I have been enjoying the fairly recent spurt of books that explore the history and meaning of homes and houses, such as Lucy Worsley's If Walls Could Talk
and Bill Bryson's At Home
, and I have always been a faithful reader of Witold Rybczynski's explorations of architecture and cities. Writers like these concentrate their books on a particular concept or structure, and dedicate themselves to seeing how long they can spin this initial thread of an idea.
P.D. Smith's approach is different: City
is not the kind of book that allows the reader to see a subject up close, but rather, to see how far a subject is capable of reaching into the far corners of the world and the depths of time. The pleasure in reading City
comes from moving quickly from subject to subject, skipping one moment from a paragraph on urban cemeteries to another on graffiti, and...
Beyond the Book
, P.D. Smith observes that contemporary urban populations are steadily growing, and he predicts that by the middle of this century the majority of humankind will be living in urban areas that he terms "eco-cities." Some recent trends like urban homesteading, community gardens, and vertical farming provide a glimpse of what futuristic ecologically sustainable cities are like, and they are far from the polluted, smoggy worlds that are traditionally associated with cities.