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If you're listened to the 99% Invisible podcast, then you already know what you're getting. If you haven't, then you really, really ought to.
Physically, the book is absolutely gorgeous to look at and to hold. Roman has, of course, a keen eye for design - and it shows in every aspect. The paper, the layout, the illustrations... everything. It's truly exquisite work.
The content is fascinating. So many things that are "that way for a reason" that you probably never thought - or even noticed. (Unless, of course, you're a 99pi listener - we DO think about these things)
Buy it. Buy it now. And buy copies for everyone you love.
And remember.... #AlwaysReadThePlaque
(Footnote: my photos show the book along with the challenge coin that was available to those that pre-ordered)
The book is split into chapters by theme. Every chapter then has stories of around 2-5 pages. I think they have actually hit the nail on the head on how to appeal to the modern reader. I have great books that I never got into but this one is so easy to read. Pick it up, read for ten minutes about cisterns and then go back whatever distractions you have in your life.
I find this book a beautiful piece of design in itself. It explores various parts of city design and may help give you some different perspective and a deeper understanding of places you live in or visit. I find it enjoyable to dip into or sit and read, largely because the enthusiasm the authors have for the subject shines in the way they have approached putting together this book. It is not a technical manual on city design but it explores how humans live and work in these places in our day to day lives, giving some context to the unusual and the mundane but beautiful things you might encounter in designed spaces.
Wonderfully engaging book with just the right amount of content in each 1-2 page entry to hold interest, teach you something and inspire you to find out more. Fans of the 99pi podcast will find a fair amount of common ground with broadcast episodes but the majority of the book is freshly approached subject material. The passion of the various contributors shines through in the breadth and depth of the information contained in each entry. It is very US-centric but listeners to the podcast know this already. The only other places to get a look in are Western Europe and Japan but again, so if you're looking for comment and exposure of urban design in Africa or South-East Asia you're coming to the wrong place.
I've only had this book for a day or so and it's already my new favourite thing. I pre-ordered the book as soon as I heard about it a few months ago on the podcast and I was so happy when it finally got delivered. Its packed full of interesting stories which are all easily digestible and easy to read. If you're familiar with the podcast, some of the stories will be a blast from the past from one of the previous episodes (just in more detail with a nice illustration to accompany) but even if you've never heard the show, but are interested in the world around you and how things work, it's the book for you. Genuine thank you to Roman and Kurt for bringing this into my life.
Fantastic book! Loved the podcast for years and is well worth checking out if you buy the book too! The illustrations are lovely and to some people perhaps being illustrations rather than photos is a problem but think of it as they’re just trying to give you an idea of what a non-specific version of the object or building looks like, gives you room to spot it in real life. It’s a field guide to every city.
It’s often said that one should look up in a city to fully enjoy it. Now I look out for every tiny detail, every design, every manhole cover, scribble on the floor and tiny box on the wall. I’m constantly annoying my friends and loved ones with nerdy facts, that I find interesting. Now I have more to add to that roster. Definitely recommend.