by Bridget Hamilton
You took BIM for Dummies to the Bahamas last year, so what should you read this time around? In advance of the holiday season we’ve compiled ten of the most popular paperbacks on big data, smart cities and sustainable construction - giving you all the intelligent content you need without wrecking your luggage limit.
(Tip: check our handy code on the left to find which books talk about cities, green spaces and data)
1. Unruly Places: Lost Spaces, Secret Cities, and Other Inscrutable Geographies (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 288 pages)
You’d be forgiven for believing that, in the age of WiFi atop mountains and Google Street View, there would be no place on earth left undiscovered. However, this incredible book navigates places left untouched by humans - plus those we have long since left behind - split into categories like ‘Floating Islands’, ‘Dead Cities’ and ‘No Man’s Lands’.
2. Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less Are the Keys to Sustainability (Riverhead Books, 368 pages)
David Owen is a staff writer for the New Yorker and in this book tackles why where we live and how far we travel are key to better sustainability within our towns and cities. One reviewer describes it as “an excellent, thought provoking book and vividly highlights the disconnect between what the community perceives as being ‘green’ and what truly is.”
3. What Algorithms Want: Imagination in the Age of Computing (MIT Press, 272 pages)
What do a shaman’s curse, traditional marriage vows and the Star Trek computer have in common? Find out in all this and more in a book that explores how computer algorithms have fundamentally changed our way of thinking - there’s even a term for it: algorithmic imagination.
4.The Internet of Us: Knowing More and Understanding Less in the Age of Big Data (Liveright, 246 pages)
Described in its blurb as a 'pioneering work of modern philosophy', The Internet of Us touches upon topics like the Internet of Things and Big Data and whether these innovations change what makes us truly human. The author, Michael P. Lynch, is a professor of philosophy at the University of Connecticut.
5. The Architecture of Happiness"One of the great but often unmentioned cases of both happiness and misery is the quality of our environment: the kinds of walls, chairs, buildings, and streets that surround us. And yet a concern for architecture is too often described as frivolous, even self-indulgent." Alain de Botton's Architecture of Happiness is a captivating read for construction and architecture professionals as well as anyone with an interest in how their surroundings make them feel.
6. The City of Tomorrow: Sensors, Networks, Hackers, and the Future of Urban LifeThe cities we live and work in today have not come about by chance. Authors Carlo Ratti and Matthew Claudel work at the MIT Senseable City Laboratory, and in this title they take you through the vast highs and lows of the evolution of cities and remind us of our role in helping to shape the cities of the future. Their work encompasses “urban initiatives and concepts, from assistive condition-monitoring bicycles to trash with embedded tracking sensors.”
7. Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New UtopiaAnthony Townsend is the perfect person to write this all-encompassing guide to smart cities; he holds a PhD in urban and regional planning and now acts as research director in the Technology Horizons Program for the Silicon Valley-based Institute for the Future. This is a brilliant reference guide to smart cities as a concept as well as who plays a part in their creation and evolution.
8. Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban RevolutionJanette Sadik-Khan - who served as New York City’s transportation commissioner for six years - teamed up with her chief media strategist to write this no-holds-barred guide to her tireless work on its transformation. During her tenure over 400 miles of cycle path and 60 plazas were created, and regulations passed under her guidance as chair of the National Association of Transportation Officials have improved over 40 cities worldwide.
9. Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a TimeAccording to this book’s blurb, “Jeff Speck has dedicated his career to determining what makes cities thrive. And he has boiled it down to one key factor: walkability.” Seems simple, but when you consider the consequences of such an action - better resident health and wellbeing, less air pollution, greater community ethos - it becomes clear what a difference walking would make.
10. A Burglar's Guide to the CityDescribed by a VICE journalist as a ‘perspective-shifting read’, Geoff Manaugh’s A Burglar’s Guide to the City forces its readers to consider how our architecture and infrastructure look to someone preparing to rob a bank or steal a car. Manaugh calls on FBI agents, security consultants and even criminals themselves to provide insight - as well as evidence from two millennia of break-ins and heists.
What would you add to our list? Tweet us your suggestions at @theNBS using the hashtag #SummerReads!