Bestselling author Spike Carlsen (A Splintered History of Wood) takes a walk around his hometown, investigating how every part of our urban landscape—from manhole covers and recycling bins to pedestrian crossings and bike lanes—impact and create our lives.
“Carlsen sees a world of wonder hiding in plain sight…he may just change how you look at the world around you.” — TODAY Show On his regular walk one morning, Spike Carlsen realized there was an entire world outside his front door that he knew nothing about. How does that fire hydrant work, he wondered? Why are street lights shining more brightly than ever before? And, on a more personal level, why does an easy stroll around the neighborhood always leave him feeling more creative and spry, better able to take on the day? A simple walk around the block set Carlsen off on an investigative journey to discover everything he could about every thing we take for granted in our everyday life, from manhole covers and recycling bins to pedestrian crossings and bike lanes. Leading readers on a spirited adventure through his hometown, and other environs, Carlsen explains with wit and erudition the engineering marvels, unheralded utilities, and secret economic and health benefits hiding in plain sight. Like how the addition of a front porch reduces crime and increases property value. And how planting a $10 boulevard tree cuts air-conditioning costs by 20 percent, while generating approximately $30,000 worth of oxygen and $31,000 worth of erosion control. Or how a simple walk, in addition to reduce your chances of a stroke (20 percent), cardiovascular disease (30 percent), and broken bones (40 percent), can increase creativity by 60 percent. Engaging, entertaining, and informative, A Walk Around the Block is a narrative celebration of all the seemingly random stuff we encounter at any given moment.