12 reads and listens for urbanists to enjoy this summer


By URBACT, on July 31st, 2019

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If you have the chance to slow down and savour a good book this summer, have a look through our selection of 12 urban-themed reads and listens.

With picks from URBACT’s Simina Lazar, Laura Colini, Ania Rok, Sally Kneeshaw, Ségolène Pruvot and Amy Labarrière, it’s an eclectic mix of titles with one thing in common: all are relevant to cities or sustainable, integrated, urban development.

Wishing you a great summer!

Everyday is for the thief
Teju Cole

This story of a young man rediscovering his hometown of Lagos (NG) after 15 years away paints a vivid portrait of Nigeria and its vibrant capital.

A luminous rumination on storytelling and place, exile and return . . . extraordinary.
San Francisco Chronicle.

The Municipalists
Seth Fried

A new and irreverent take on both real-world politics and sci-fi history.
The Wall Street Journal.

Urbanists will love this witty novel about an adventure to save tomorrow’s great American city of Metropolis.

Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London
Lauren Elkin

Part memoire, part cultural history, this enjoyable journey takes us to meet various urban wanderers, from George Sand to Virginia Woolf.


Prisoners of Geography
Tim Marshall

Ten Maps that tell you all you need to know about global politics. Investigate the critical role of geography in shaping geopolitics.



99% invisible

An independent podcast created by Roman Mars. About “all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about — the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world”.

Susan Fainstein speaking about the Just City   

A nice little video from urban development scholar Susan Fainstein on the work of urban planners and the moral theory of the “just city” – the title of her 2010 book.

Urban Warfare: Housing under the Empire of Finance
Raquel Rolnik

A new look at the financialisation of housing with examples of its catastrophic impacts around the world.



Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race
Reni Eddo-Lodge

This exploration of what it is to be a person of color in Britain today is shaking up how people see, acknowledge and counter racism.

You don’t have to live in the UK to recognise the issues of white privilege, class, feminism and structural racism that [Eddo Lodge] explores in this essential book.”
Silvia Viñas, NPR

How To Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy
Jenny Odell

Bringing together issues like capitalist pressure on productivity and efficiency, separation of humans and nature, breakdown of communities, and disappearance of public space… This book inspires us to use our attention as powerful tool in shaping personal experience, cities, and even the world at large.

Invisible Women
Caroline Criado-Perez

Exposing Data Bias in a world designed for men. Includes a mention of the Swedish town of Umeå – an URBACT Good Practice city!


Sharing Cities: Activating the Urban Commons

A collection to dip into time after time, these sharing-related case studies and model policies from more than 80 cities in 35 countries are available for free as a PDF. They could also make a fascinating holiday itinerary!


Bystander: A History of Street Photography
Joel Meyerowitz and Colin Westerbeck 

Telling the story of urban photographers since the 19th century, this book is an absolute must if you’re interested in street photography and observing daily urban life.


If you have a favourite city-related book or podcast, do share!
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