Ummm ... all of them?
I am disturbed. I just received a simple e-mail requesting a good book to recommend to a friend about community building and sociology, two subjects I've spent a considerable amount of time studying. A simple request, right? Yet I find myself utterly stumped! I open it up to the floor.
My response to the request:
Shit, man. Talk about braindead! I'm like a deer in the headlights. The pressure, the pressure!!!
I need more to go on. What's he interested in?
Sounds like he's reading for fun. I'm trying to think of fun reads. I'm thinking William H. Whyte and/or Jane Jacobs.
My personal favorite is an essay written in 1908 or something by Georg Simmel. I think I may have an electronic version. This essay has been credited as the start of urban sociology. I'm amazed at how relevant it still is.
Umm... I just got a book from Amazon called Shaping the City. It's a neat look at global cities with a crosscut of disciplines and topics.
The Great Good Place? I just got that one, but after the Introduction, the rest of the book is a let-down so far. I hope I'm wrong. I still have a ways to go.
I mean, if he really wants to dig in and read the classics, have him go for Henri Lefebvre's Production of Space or Michel de Certeau's Practice of Everyday Life.
Umm, more topical things? Mike Davis: City of Quartz (re: the fear that shapes modern-day Los Angeles). Arnold Hirsch: Making of the Second Ghetto (re: racism in Chicago as determinant of growth and city form)
Again, I'd have to know where he's coming from to get him where he wants to go. (Once a planner, always a planner!!!)
The more I think about this, the more I want to know what the one book answer is. We need to write one. How about it? It's the community building part that I'm struggling with, here. There are books about community building and books about sociology and books about places, but there really aren't too many that are about all three at once, which leaves me dissatisfied with any one in particular.