Life in the City: Unique Perspectives on Urban Living

It’s no secret that Seattle is going through a boom. For some of us, it’s an exhilarating time as we build housing and transit on our way to becoming a vibrant and diverse first-class city. For others, it’s an overwhelming period where we yearn for less congestion, greater civic pride, and the simpler, less-bustling days of yore. Urban life is complex, and these four books look at life in the city from a variety of unique perspectives.

A Burglar’s Guide to the City by Geoff Manaugh looks at urban architecture and the built environment from the burglar’s point of view. Why? Because, in spite of the measures and precautions taken by architects, police and security personnel, nothing is really burglar-proof. From air ducts and elevator shafts to underground tunnels and the space behind walls, you’ll never look at a building the same way again.

The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone by Olivia Laing asks the question: How can cities, thriving and packed with people, be among the loneliest places on earth? Laing explores this through her experience living alone and unmoored in New York, how artists express their urban isolation, and how social media simultaneously fills the void and leaves us feeling emptier.

Unseen City: The Majesty of Pigeons, the Discreet Charm of Snails & Other Wonders of the Urban Wilderness by Nathanael Johnson asks city dwellers to consider the urban wildlife we take for granted. He provides readers with fascinating information about crows, pigeons and other friends from the sky, as well as ants, raccoons, snails, rats and all the other animals we consider pests. You’ll gain a new appreciation for the wilds of the city.

Americans Against the City: Anti-Urbanism in the 20th Century by Steven Conn isn’t brand new, but it’s relevant for understanding a part of our political climate. Conn examines the seeds of the anti-urban movement that began in the 1930s, how the “urban crisis” of the 1960s led to the view of cities as the epitome of big government run amok, and how the conservative movement rejected urban ideals in favor of the self-sufficiency of small town America.

~posted by Frank B.

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