Bus reading, part–OK, I’ve lost count

For some unknown reason, I regularly receive a monthly e-mail newsletter from King County Councilmember Bob Ferguson. (This is only unusual because I don’t live in his district and don’t remember signing up for it. Call me a civics nerd, but I do actually enjoy reading it.)

Councilmember Ferguson is a proud bus rider and regularly mentions Metro in his communiqués. His latest bus-related broadcast: The inaugural entry of Bob’s Bus Books.

This month, I am starting a new section in my eNews to share what I have been reading on my bus commutes. A few of the books I have enjoyed in the past few months are:

• The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig – Doig is a Shoreline resident and was nominated for the National Book Award for This House of Sky.
• The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón – I stole this one from my wife’s reading stack.
Winter Wheat* and The Curlew’s Cry by Mildred Walker – Walker’s works focus on Western themes. These two novels take place in Montana and were no doubt inspired by her time there.

I am currently reading Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey, which many consider to be the best novel set in Oregon.

Looks like Mr. Ferguson is partial to novels written by and about the West. Not that I can talk; I just finished reading (in honor of the anniversary of the boycott, and all) three Rosa Parks-related books–two by her, one about her–in a row. And since we’re on the subject…

My current bus read is Green Metropolis, by David Owen. I would have gotten to it sooner (it came out in September), but the library’s waiting list was about 50 deep. I dutifully waited my turn, and then, just days after my name finally came up, my sweet baby brother, Joel, bought me a copy for Christmas. Lucky for the next person in line.

I digress.

Here’s an excerpt from the publisher’s blurb about the book:

Most Americans think of crowded cities as ecological nightmares, as wastelands of concrete and garbage and diesel fumes and traffic jams. Yet residents of compact urban centers, Owen shows, individually consume less oil, electricity, and water than other Americans. They live in smaller spaces, discard less trash, and, most important of all, spend far less time in automobiles. Residents of Manhattan — the most densely populated place in North America — rank first in public-transit use and last in per capita greenhouse-gas production… They are also among the only people in the United States for whom walking is still an important means of daily transportation.

I’m only on chapter one, but I already love it, and not just because it completely validates my world view–and hates on Portland**, just a little bit. (OK, mostly because of those reasons.) I’m actually learning something about individual energy consumption in the US, and since Owen is a strong writer, his nonfiction goes down nice and easy. (That means that this novel-preferring bus chick won’t take three months to get through it.) Get thee to a library and check out Green Metropolis (or, at least, get on SPL’s website and add yourself to the wait list) immediately.

Next up for me, another Christmas gift: Barbara Kingsolver’s latest, The Lacuna.

And you? What’s on your bus reading list for 2010?

* I’ve actually read Winter Wheat (my mom lent it to me over a decade ago), but I don’t remember much about it except that I enjoyed it.
**Folks, I have nothing but love for our Northwest neighbors to the south, but I do admit to being a wee bit jealous of all the love Portland gets from the rest of the planet. Sue me.

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