September 6th, 2013

dark and stormy, reading

National Read a Book Day

Robert Crais says that today is National Read a Book Day. Now that's a day I can get behind!

I have a Kindle, but lately I've been doing most of my reading with physical books, because the books I've wanted to read have not been available in electronic format at a price point I was willing to consider. But that's OK, because I love libraries as much as I love books, so there's additional satisfaction to be found in reading a book I've borrowed from the library.

I'm actually between books at the moment, having finished Jeff Speck's Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time earlier today. Which was really interesting, incidentally. I would think so, of course; I've always been interested urban planning, so much so that when I vacationed in Florida with boliver and rustydog, I made them accompany me to the town of Celebration, a planned community near Orlando that originally developed by The Walt Disney Company and was designed according to principles of New Urbanism, which is among the nerdiest things I've ever done on vacation. (Though probably not even in the top five, thanks to the California vacation during which I hung out with Buffy fans I'd met online, visited the location that served as the exterior of the apartment complex and D & D Advertising on Melrose Place, and went to Comic-Con.)

Anyway, it's a very readable book, which is not something that can necessarily be said about many books on urban planning. There was one thing I found a bit irritating about it though; for footnotes, Speck used ●, ■, and ▲ instead of the more traditional *, †, and ‡. I don't know about you, but I find it difficult to distinguish ● from ■ in ten-point superscript. I have old eyes, though, and the light isn't always the best on the buses where I do most of my reading.

I did like that Speck found space to mention Madison a couple of times, both in his chapter on welcoming bikes, which is one of his "ten steps of walkability." He likes that so many of our city streets have been made bike-friendly, and that we've instituted "bike boulevards." He didn't have abything to say about our walkability, which I happen to think is pretty good, especially in the central business district, nor how we've largely avoided the problem of having huge surface lots or parking ramps taking up useful space on our main downtown streets. Oh well, no book is perfect.