January Book of the Month

Straphanger: Saving our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile by Taras Grescoe

Straphanger is the Earth Centre’s second book by Montreal-based author Taras Grescoe. The first, Bottomfeeder, exposes the problems in the world’s fishing industries, and what we as consumers can do to help solve them.  His newest book tackles a completely different yet equally important topic in terms of global sustainability.

A straphanger is “someone who, by choice or necessity, relies on public transport rather than a privately owned automobile.”   According to Grescoe, transportation and urban development are inextricably linked. Thus Straphanger is not simply a book about buses and trains, but the histories of cities and how they have grown (sustainably or not) alongside transportation systems.  Following Bottomfeeder, Grescoe recounts his world-wide travels to illustrate the relationship between urban development and transportation, highlighting systems that work and those that don’t.   Fortunately he stays true to his Canadian roots, and includes chapters we can all relate to on Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal.

Straphanger has been hailed by critics, and is listed amongst the top books of 2012 by the Globe and Mail and Amazon.  While not a quick read, Grescoe’s wit and attention to detail make the book enjoyable and informative.   For anyone interested in transportation and/or sustainable development, Straphanger is a book for you.

- Alex, Education Director