I really can't explain it, but as the traveling secretary of the MARTA Book Club in charge of tracking what people are reading while riding buses and trains on the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, I have little to report since my last installment. I think I saw someone reading Herman Hesse's Siddhartha and a Michael Pollan book, but that was about it.
Is it my laziness? Are people reading less? Or was I just too absorbed in my own books to pay attention to anyone else. It could be the latter since I just finished Rebecca Solnit's absorbing collection of nearly 30 essays, Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness (2014). In this book Solnit travels throughout the world and gives accounts of some of the ecological crises and political upheavals that we hear about, but rarely know the inside story. Solnit is not a reporter per se, but she seems able to find those activists and other people on the front line who give us the perspectives that we need to know about. Sometimes this is depressing; sometimes uplifting. But always thought provoking.
My favorite pieces were about post-tsunami Japan, the water crisis in the American West, "carnival" resistance in New Orleans, urban gardening and one that does strike close to home to someone in the MARTA Book Club -- "The Google Bus: Silicon Valley Invades." In this essay, Solint writes about the ramifications of a private bus exclusively used by high-tech employees. It includes an anecdote about an Apple bus driver who decided he had had enough: