What We Are Reading Today: Supertall

What We Are Reading Today: Supertall
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Updated 16 April 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Supertall

What We Are Reading Today: Supertall

Author: Stefan Al

Cities around the world are racing to build the first mile-high building, stretching the limits of engineering and design as never before.
In this fascinating work of urban history and design, Stefan Al — himself an experienced architect — explores the factors that have led to this worldwide boom.
He reveals the marvelous and underappreciated feats of engineering that make today’s supertalls a reality, from double-decker elevators that silently move up to 50 miles per hour to the sophisticated blend of polymers and steel fibers that enables concrete to withstand 8,000 tons of pressure per square meter.
Focusing on four global cities — London, New York, Hong Kong, and Singapore — Al examines the risks of wealth inequality, carbon emissions, and contagion that stem from supertalls.
And he uncovers the latest innovations in sustainable building, from skyscrapers made of wood to tree-covered buildings, that promise to yield a better urban future. Featuring more than 30 architectural drawings, Supertall is both a fascinating exploration of our greatest accomplishments and a powerful argument for a more equitable way forward.

 


What We Are Reading Today: Birds and Us

What We Are Reading Today: Birds and Us
Updated 10 August 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Birds and Us

What We Are Reading Today: Birds and Us

Author: Tim Birkhead

Since the dawn of human history, birds have stirred our imagination, inspiring and challenging our ideas about science, faith, art, and philosophy. We have worshipped birds, hunted them for sustenance, adorned ourselves with their feathers, studied their wings to engineer flight, and, more recently, attempted to protect them.

In Birds and Us, award-winning writer and ornithologist Tim Birkhead takes us on a dazzling epic journey through our mutual history with birds, from the ibises mummified and deified by ancient Egyptians to the Renaissance fascination with woodpecker anatomy—and from the Victorian obsession with egg collecting to today’s fight to save endangered species and restore their habitats.

Spanning continents and millennia, Birds and Us chronicles the beginnings of a written history of birds in ancient Greece and Rome, the obsession with falconry in the Middle Ages, and the development of ornithological science.

 


What We Are Reading Today: Unsettled Land

What We Are Reading Today: Unsettled Land
Updated 09 August 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Unsettled Land

What We Are Reading Today: Unsettled Land

Author: Sam W. Haynes

“Unsettled Land” by Sam W. Haynes has long been cast as an epic episode in the origins of the American West.

As the story goes, larger-than-life figures like Sam Houston, David Crockett, and William Barret Travis fought to free Texas from repressive Mexican rule.

Unsettled Land reveals the reality beneath this powerful creation myth. Haynes shows how the lives of ordinary people — white Americans, Mexicans, Native Americans, and those of African descent — were upended by extraordinary events over twenty-five years.

After the battle of San Jacinto, racial lines snapped taut as the Lone Star state sought to expel Indians, marginalize Mexicans, and tighten its grip on the enslaved.


What We Are Reading Today: The Next 100 Years

What We Are Reading Today: The Next 100 Years
Updated 07 August 2022

What We Are Reading Today: The Next 100 Years

What We Are Reading Today: The Next 100 Years

Author: George Friedman

In this book, George Friedman turns his eye on the future — offering a lucid, highly readable forecast of the changes we can expect around the world during the twenty-first century.

He explains where and why future wars will erupt and how they will be fought, which nations will gain and lose economic and political power, and how new technologies and cultural trends will alter the way we live in the new century.

The Next 100 Years draws on a fascinating exploration of history and geopolitical patterns dating back hundreds of years. Friedman shows that we are now, for the first time in half a millennium, at the dawn of a new era — with changes in store, including the war against terror will conclude and will be replaced by a second full-blown cold war with Russia.

Also, China will undergo a major extended internal crisis, and Mexico will emerge as an important world power.


What We Are Reading Today: Mothercare

What We Are Reading Today: Mothercare
Updated 07 August 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Mothercare

What We Are Reading Today: Mothercare

Author: Lynne Tillman

This is a beautifully written account of taking care of one’s mother in old age and infirmity.
For readers of Joan Didion’s “The Year of Magical Thinking,” and Simone de Beauvior’s “A Very Easy Death,” “Mothercare” is an honest and beautifully written account of a sudden and drastically changed relationship with one’s mother, and of the time and labor spent navigating the American healthcare system.
“Mothercare” is both a cautionary tale and sympathetic guidance for anyone who suddenly becomes a caregiver, responsible for the life of another — a parent, loved or not, or a friend.
This story may be helpful, informative, consoling, or upsetting, but it never fails to underscore how impossible it is to get the job done completely right.
Author Lynne Tillman explores her feelings about her mother’s prolonged decline and subsequent death in her 98th year alongside dispassionate descriptions of her mother’s illness and the search for appropriate treatments.
Tillman describes, without flinching, the unexpected, heartbreaking, and frustrating years of caring for a sick parent, said a review on goodreads.com

 


What We Are Reading Today: Inventor of the Future

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Updated 05 August 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Inventor of the Future

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Author: Alec Nevala-Lee

Inventor of the Future is the first authoritative biography to cover all aspects of Buckminster Fuller’s career.
Drawing on meticulous research, dozens of interviews, and thousands of unpublished documents, Alec Nevala-Lee has produced a riveting portrait that transcends the myth of Fuller as an otherworldly generalist. In an era of accelerating change, Fuller’s example remains enormously relevant, and his lessons for designers, activists, and innovators are as powerful and essential as ever.
During his lifetime, Fuller was hailed as one of the greatest geniuses of the 20th century.
The strength of this carefully researched and fair-minded biography is that the reader comes away with a greater understanding of a deeply complicated individual who overcame obstacles — many of his own making — to achieve a kind of imperfect greatness, Witold Rybczynski said in a review for The New York Times.
“In his public appearances, Fuller could come across as a selfless seer, almost a secular saint; in Nevala-Lee’s biography he is all too human,” said the review.