Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Old Book, New Book #19: Traffic -> A Wind in the Door


Well...it's done. I finally finished reading "Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)". It took me over two months (and granted I've had other things occupying more of my time lately), in great part, because it just wasn't THAT interesting of a read. Yes, some of the ideas were interesting. In fact the opening section on whether or not to merge early or late was really quite interesting. Sadly, the rest of the book failed to live up to the introduction. I started reading it in the hopes of finding some secrets about how to improve my commute, and ended up learning over and over again that making roads safer often makes them more dangerous.

And that gets to my biggest issue with the book. It was just so overwritten. I felt like this book would have been better as a series of articles, or at the very least with more judicious editing. It felt like the author would present an idea, and then present every possible relevant study or factoid or possible cultural belief that could be related to support that idea. I appreciated learning more about traffic safety and the way that roads that are inherently safer often lead to more reckless driving and a subsequently lower reduction in accidents and fatalities than expected. I appreciated the discussion of ideas like congestion pricing, and why roundabouts really are safer than traditional intersections. I just didn't appreciate them 300 pages worth.

In any case, I'm kind of looking forward to some lighter fare, with a return to the Wrinkle in Time series. Next up is "A Wind in the Door", which I've of course read before, but so long ago that I really don't recall anything. From looking at the back of the book, I know/remember that there's something to do with microscopic organisms (bacteria?). In any case, I hope that this next book won't take me another two and a half months to read.



CJ said...

I really enjoyed "Traffic" personally, but I'm a Chicago/congestion pricing/align incentives/microecon dork that way. I don't recall it being that repetitive, but it's been a couple of years.

Lighter fare? Traffic was heavy? ;) You sell yourself short.

j said...

@ CJ: I'm not saying Traffic was a heavy read. Just burdensome to finish. :)