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Alida's Song by Gary Paulsen
The Arrival
by Shaun Tan
Bird by Rita Murphy
Border Town (边城) by Shen Congwen
Catwings Return by Ursula K. LeGuin
Circus by Lois Ehlert
Flanimals by Ricky Gervais
Good Morning, Gorillas (Magic Tree House #26) by Mary Pope Osborne
Guy Wire by Sarah Weeks
Harold's ABC by Crocket Johnson
High Tide in Hawaii (Magic Tree House #28) by Mary Pope Osborne
Horns by Joe Hill
Jane on Her Own by Ursula K. Le Guin
The Kids' Guide to Digital Photography by Jenni Bidner
Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems
Mary Modern by Camille Deangelis
The Octonauts and the Great Ghost Reef by Meomi
Ottoline Goes to School by Chris Riddell
Outlaw: The Legend of Robin Hood by Tony Lee
A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander
Pirates Past Noon (Magic Tree House #4) by Mary Pope Osborne
Puss in Boots by Charles Perrault
Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez
Receive Me Falling by Erika Robuck
Science Fiction and Alternate History by David Scholes
Size Eight in a Size Zero World by Meredith Cagen
The Tarot Cafe Volume 2 by Sang-Sun Park
Tea for Ruby
by Sarah Ferguson
Uncle Andy's Cats by James Warhola
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Un Lun Dun by China Mié
Walter Wick's Optical Tricks by Walter Wick
When Teachers Talk by Rosalyn Susanne Schnall


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5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish

Reading Challenges

My Kind of Mystery Reading Challenge 2017 February - January 2017-8




Comments for A Pattern Language

A Pattern Language: 08/16/10

 cover art (Link goes to Powells)Back in my first life as a masters student, I was planning my thesis around the codification of the city on the Hollywood road film. I blame (or perhaps credit) this wacky idea on my long commutes. See, UCLA is in Westwood and I lived in Pasadena at the time. There is no straight shot between the two locations thanks to the Hollywood Hills. That means I had a fifty mile commute in typical L.A. traffic (gridlock) and plenty of time to ponder stuff while I started at the dashed white line blipping by my windshield.

Before I could apply Hollywood's interpretation of the city and its roadways in the Road Film genre, I had to understand the symbols used in Los Angeles and more broadly, the United States. Why had we settled on the signs, patterns, and other symbolic short cuts that we had? In trying to come to an understanding of the language of the city and its roads, I started to read books by the bucket load on things like Los Angeles history, the automobile, urban architecture and the like.

When I didn't get accepted to the PhD program I stopped my research. Maybe now that I'm back in academia again or maybe it's just been long enough for the burnout to have faded, but I've started re-addressing my interest in the city.

One of those books I didn't get to in my first round was A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction by Christopher Alexander (et al). It's a huge architectural, urban planning tome, coming in between 900 and 1200 pages depending on which edition you read. I don't expect many (if any) of my regular readers to rush out and get a copy to read for fun. OK, I know of one friend who has read it (I don't know if it was for fun or for school), so maybe there will be others.

Although I'm not an architect, I loved the book. The 900 pages (older edition) flew by quickly. At the time I read it, I was just starting out as a Non-Response Housing Unit Follow Up Enumerator (aka one of those door to door census takers) so maps, city planning and basic human behavior was forefront on my mind. What I was reading and what I was experiencing in the field meshed.

The gist of the book is this: people naturally live together in groups and these groups naturally form patterns that can be analyzed to judge the stability of the population. For areas to grow they need access to certain other areas in predictable, easy to reach locations. More importantly, these patterns can be put into place to help a city or neighborhood's success. I see a lot of the current day "green neighborhood" planning coming right out of this book.

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