The book is very Gladwell-esque, without having Gladwell's charm or ability to connect and re-connect. I probably learned quite a bit about traffic and why we drive the way we do, but if you were to ask me right now to name something... driving is cultural and how we drive depends on where we live. Except I knew that already.
California roll. I asked my partner if he'd ever heard of this and what it meant, and right away he said what it was (rolling instead of coming to a complete stop at a stop sign). He said he heard that how Californian's drove when he lived back east as a child, and that he saw this all the time. Maybe I just don't pay attention well enough - I haven't seen it. And I don't do it either.
The Pittsburgh left he had not heard of, and neither had I - and I'm still not sure I completely understand what it is. That was a repeated problem for me with this book - Vanderbilt's explanations aren't always very enlightening. Sometimes I wish I had an illustration of some sort. It's a rare occasion when I wish books could link to You Tube.
Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do by Tom Vanderbilt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book is sort of like a long road trip, like driving from California to someplace back east on I-40. There are some sights and sites along the way, but there are also some incredibly long stretches of sand. I will admit that within a day or so of starting the book, I was taking a closer look at my driving and the driving of others, as well as the signs, intersections, bicycle paths, pedestrians and other mind boggling distractions and temptations along any given route.
Vanderbilt strives for the Gladwellian standard of pop nonfiction, I think, but falls just short of the connectivity and re-connectivity of Gladwell's works. The book has an episodic quality to it that makes some individual chapters far better than others, without making them meet.
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