Ever wonder about your surroundings? Just how much of a story do everyday aspects of the built environment tell? What do they layers of our cultural landscape reveal about the past? These layers and clues are in plain sight, not even hidden. You just have to look a bit. Take a walk. Go for a run. Or as recommended by John R. Stilgoe, go for a bike ride. Just get outside; “get out now.”
John R. Stilgoe’s book, Outside Lies Magic: Regaining History and Awareness in Everyday Places, teaches readers how to be explorers and how to read the land via telephone poles, railroad corridors, interstates, fences, parking spaces, and more. Stilgoe weaves an interesting, captivating text that gives seemingly mundane surroundings context, character, and meaning. The best part about this book is that you do not have to be a preservationist, geographer, planner, architect, or historian to appreciate and understand the content. If you like to gaze at your surroundings and occasionally wonder about streets, rails, land, boundaries, mail routes, etc. then it is the perfect book. An easy, enjoyable read, this is something everyone should add to their library.
Read the book, take a bike ride — you’ll never be the same.