Palaces for the People
Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life
By Eric Klinenberg
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR • “Engaging.”—Mayor Pete Buttigieg, The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)
We are living in a time of deep divisions. Americans are sorting themselves along racial, religious, and cultural lines, leading to a level of polarization that the country hasn’t seen since the Civil War. Pundits and politicians are calling for us to come together and find common purpose. But how, exactly, can this be done?
In Palaces for the People, Eric Klinenberg suggests a way forward. He believes that the future of democratic societies rests not simply on shared values but on shared spaces: the libraries, childcare centers, churches, and parks where crucial connections are formed. Interweaving his own research with examples from around the globe, Klinenberg shows how “social infrastructure” is helping to solve some of our most pressing societal challenges. Richly reported and ultimately uplifting, Palaces for the People offers a blueprint for bridging our seemingly unbridgeable divides.
LONGLISTED FOR THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE IN NONFICTION
The San Francisco Civic Center
By James W. Haas
The San Francisco Civic Center: A History of the Design, Controversies, and Realization of a City Beautiful Masterpiece
San Francisco is known and loved around the world for its iconic man-made structures, such as the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, and Transamerica Pyramid. Yet its Civic Center, with the grandest collection of monumental municipal buildings in the United States, is often overlooked, drawing less global and local interest, despite its being an urban planning marvel featuring thirteen government office and cultural buildings.
In The San Francisco Civic Center, James Haas tells the complete story of San Francisco’s Civic Center and how it became one of the most complete developments envisioned by any American city. Originally planned and designed by John Galen Howard in 1912, the San Francisco Civic Center is considered in both design and materials one of the finest achievements of the American reformist City Beautiful movement, an urban design movement that began more than a century ago.
Haas meticulously unravels the Civic Center’s story of perseverance and dysfunction, providing an understanding and appreciation of this local and national treasure. He discusses why the Civic Center was built, how it became central to the urban planning initiatives of San Francisco in the early twentieth century, and how the site held onto its founders’ vision despite heated public debates about its function and achievement. He also delves into the vision for the future and related national trends in city planning and the architectural and art movements that influenced those trends.
Riddled with inspiration and leadership as well as controversy, The San Francisco Civic Center, much like the complex itself, is a stunning manifestation of the confident spirit of one of America’s most dynamic and creative cities.
The Library Book
The Library Book
By Susan Orlean
Susan Orlean’s bestseller and New York Times Notable Book is “a sheer delight…as rich in insight and as varied as the treasures contained on the shelves in any local library” (USA TODAY)—a dazzling love letter to a beloved institution and an investigation into one of its greatest mysteries. “Everybody who loves books should check out The Library Book” (The Washington Post).
On the morning of April 28, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library. The fire was disastrous: it reached two thousand degrees and burned for more than seven hours. By the time it was extinguished, it had consumed four hundred thousand books and damaged seven hundred thousand more. Investigators descended on the scene, but more than thirty years later, the mystery remains: Did someone purposefully set fire to the library—and if so, who?
Weaving her lifelong love of books and reading into an investigation of the fire, award-winning New Yorker reporter and New York Times bestselling author Susan Orlean delivers a “delightful…reflection on the past, present, and future of libraries in America” (New York magazine) that manages to tell the broader story of libraries and librarians in a way that has never been done before.
In the “exquisitely written, consistently entertaining” (The New York Times) The Library Book, Orlean chronicles the LAPL fire and its aftermath to showcase the larger, crucial role that libraries play in our lives; delves into the evolution of libraries; brings each department of the library to vivid life; studies arson and attempts to burn a copy of a book herself; and reexamines the case of Harry Peak, the blond-haired actor long suspected of setting fire to the LAPL more than thirty years ago.
“A book lover’s dream…an ambitiously researched, elegantly written book that serves as a portal into a place of history, drama, culture, and stories” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis), Susan Orlean’s thrilling journey through the stacks reveals how these beloved institutions provide much more than just books—and why they remain an essential part of the heart, mind, and soul of our country.