45 books like Traffic

By Tom Vanderbilt,

Here are 45 books that Traffic fans have personally recommended if you like Traffic. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of There Are No Accidents: The Deadly Rise of Injury and Disaster―Who Profits and Who Pays the Price

Daniel Knowles Author Of Carmageddon: How Cars Make Life Worse and What to Do about It

From my list on urbanists who hate cars.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been interested in city planning for as long as I can remember. That is perhaps because I grew up in Birmingham, England, a city that probably suffered from its worst excesses more than most. In my job as a reporter for The Economist, I have had the privilege to see cities all over the world upfront, and probe how they work. Some of these are books I keep coming back to; others ones that I furiously agreed with. I hope you enjoy them all.

Daniel's book list on urbanists who hate cars

Daniel Knowles Why did Daniel love this book?

Jessie’s book, There Are No Accidents, is dedicated to a friend of hers who was killed cycling in New York City, by a drunk driver.

Her book however explains how such “accidents” are not only the fault of the people who directly cause them, but also of social systems that make it possible for bad decisions to cause catastrophes, and who it is who profits from them.

As a cyclist, I think about that all of the time whenever I get into an argument with a driver who – accidentally – almost kills me.

By Jessie Singer,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked There Are No Accidents as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A journalist recounts the surprising history of accidents and reveals how they've come to define all that's wrong with America.

We hear it all the time: "Sorry, it was just an accident." And we've been deeply conditioned to just accept that explanation and move on. But as Jessie Singer argues convincingly: There are no such things as accidents. The vast majority of mishaps are not random but predictable and preventable. Singer uncovers just how the term "accident" itself protects those in power and leaves the most vulnerable in harm's way, preventing investigations, pushing off debts, blaming the victims, diluting anger,…


Book cover of Driving While Black: African American Travel and the Road to Civil Rights

Anne Lutz Fernandez Author Of Carjacked: The Culture of the Automobile and Its Effect on Our Lives

From my list on understanding America’s car system.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been interested in car culture since my anthropologist sister and I first began collaborating on a research and writing project on the topic over fifteen years ago. At that time, I had just moved from a transit-rich city to a car-dependent suburb and she had just moved from a suburb to a walkable city, which got us talking about just how much this singular object—the car—shaped our everyday lives. Carjacked was published in 2010, and since then I’ve continued to read and write about transportation, although I also write a lot about education—another obsession for another list of recommended books.  

Anne's book list on understanding America’s car system

Anne Lutz Fernandez Why did Anne love this book?

I first learned about this book from the PBS documentary that was based on it, and it is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the complex history of the automobile in America, a history rife with contradictions. Sorin highlights how the advent of the car provided Black Americans with great freedom and opportunity (including through its role in the civil rights movement) but also came with severe risks and restrictions. I especially appreciated how the author’s family history deepened the broader, national story. 

By Gretchen Sorin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Driving While Black as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Driving While Black demonstrates that the car-the ultimate symbol of independence and possibility-has always held particular importance for African Americans, allowing black families to evade the dangers presented by an entrenched racist society and to enjoy, in some measure, the freedom of the open road. Melding new archival research with her family's story, Gretchen Sorin recovers a lost history, demonstrating how, when combined with black travel guides-including the famous Green Book-the automobile encouraged a new way of resisting oppression.


Book cover of The Capsular Civilization: On the City in the Age of Fear

Anne Lutz Fernandez Author Of Carjacked: The Culture of the Automobile and Its Effect on Our Lives

From my list on understanding America’s car system.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been interested in car culture since my anthropologist sister and I first began collaborating on a research and writing project on the topic over fifteen years ago. At that time, I had just moved from a transit-rich city to a car-dependent suburb and she had just moved from a suburb to a walkable city, which got us talking about just how much this singular object—the car—shaped our everyday lives. Carjacked was published in 2010, and since then I’ve continued to read and write about transportation, although I also write a lot about education—another obsession for another list of recommended books.  

Anne's book list on understanding America’s car system

Anne Lutz Fernandez Why did Anne love this book?

This unusual and provocative collection of essays and reflections by a Belgian philosopher contains ideas about car culture I refer to and reflect on often though I first read them over a decade ago. The author led me to understand how cars, though they can close great distances and bring families and friends together, have also contributed to an atomized society in which we move between isolated places in isolation from each other, a separation aided by fear and adding to it.

By Lieven de Cauter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Capsular Civilization as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Particularly since September 11, the War on Terrorism and the war in Iraq, it has been almost impossible to dissociate architecture from its social context. Add to this the massive influence of capitalism on architecture, disturbing demographic developments and associated political, social, and ecological catastrophes, and the result is a robotic snapshot of a society dominated by fear, exclusion and simulation. Lieven De Cauter, a leading theoretician on the subject of capsularisation, has worked over the past six years on the essays and articles contained in this book, and has documented and analyzed our changing societies before and after 9/11.…


Book cover of The High Cost of Free Parking

Anne Lutz Fernandez Author Of Carjacked: The Culture of the Automobile and Its Effect on Our Lives

From my list on understanding America’s car system.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been interested in car culture since my anthropologist sister and I first began collaborating on a research and writing project on the topic over fifteen years ago. At that time, I had just moved from a transit-rich city to a car-dependent suburb and she had just moved from a suburb to a walkable city, which got us talking about just how much this singular object—the car—shaped our everyday lives. Carjacked was published in 2010, and since then I’ve continued to read and write about transportation, although I also write a lot about education—another obsession for another list of recommended books.  

Anne's book list on understanding America’s car system

Anne Lutz Fernandez Why did Anne love this book?

Having grown up in a home where paying for parking was considered a sin, I was intrigued by the title of this book that’s not just for urban planners. Shoup reveals the common, misguided planning decisions that helped create not just a kind of entitlement culture around parking but a dysfunctional transportation system that we all pay for in too many ways, including economic underdevelopment and higher retail prices.  

By Donald Shoup,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The High Cost of Free Parking as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the American Planning Association's most popular and influential books is finally in paperback, with a new preface from the author on how thinking about parking has changed since this book was first published. In this no-holds-barred treatise, Donald Shoup argues that free parking has contributed to auto dependence, rapid urban sprawl, extravagant energy use, and a host of other problems. Planners mandate free parking to alleviate congestion but end up distorting transportation choices, debasing urban design, damaging the economy, and degrading the environment. Ubiquitous free parking helps explain why our cities sprawl on a scale fit more for…


Book cover of Human Transit: How Clearer Thinking about Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities and Our Lives

Andreas Schneider Author Of Enlightened Mobility: How we can surpass symbolic climate action & make transport carbon-free

From my list on how to make transport and mobility sustainable.

Why am I passionate about this?

I found my passion for sustainable mobility while working on my PhD thesis about electric cars at a time when no one was interested in electric cars. I am fascinated by the disruptive forces in the transportation space. With my long-term work experience in management consulting, corporate, academics, and startups, I’m trying to make a contribution to making transport carbon-free.  

Andreas' book list on how to make transport and mobility sustainable

Andreas Schneider Why did Andreas love this book?

Jarrett Walker is the expert on public transport and in this book he describes in detail how public transport can solve the challenges in transportation.

Pushing the modal shift from cars to public transport does not only help to save carbon emissions but also to reduce traffic congestion and push economic development. A book for everyone who wants to understand the alternatives to cars. 

By Jarrett Walker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Human Transit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Public transit is a powerful tool for addressing a huge range of urban problems, including traffic congestion and economic development as well as climate change. But while many people support transit in the abstract, it's often hard to channel that support into good transit investments. Part of the problem is that transit debates attract many kinds of experts, who often talk past each other. Ordinary people listen to a little of this and decide that transit is impossible to figure out. Jarrett Walker believes that transit can be simple, if we focus first on the underlying geometry that all transit…


Book cover of Explaining Humans: What Science Can Teach Us About Life, Love and Relationships

Ed Thompson Author Of A Hidden Force: Unlocking the Potential of Neurodiversity at Work

From my list on challenging perceptions of neurodiversity.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a young businessperson in London in my early 30s, I was as ignorant of neurodiversity as much of the rest of the world. In the mid-2010s, I got fascinated by the topic thanks to conversations with autistic family members, who encouraged me to bring some of my expertise in corporate diversity programs to the field of “neurodiversity at work”. The topic of neurodiversity chimed with me, too, as I’d suffered a traumatic brain injury in a serious car accident, and there were aspects I could relate to. I founded neurodiversity training company Uptimize to help ensure organizations across the world understand how the importance of embracing and leveraging different types of thinkers.

Ed's book list on challenging perceptions of neurodiversity

Ed Thompson Why did Ed love this book?

Explaining Humans engagingly begins, “It was five years into my life on Earth that I started to think I’d landed in the wrong place. I must have missed the stop.”

Part popular science, part memoir, part clarion call for neuroinclusion, Pang’s book is full of sophisticated and memorable observations about humans, neurodiversity, and Pang’s own neurodivergence.

I particularly enjoyed her comparison of the teamwork between human cells (neutral, effective, politics-free!) with that of typical human collaboration…and how much it made me realize that we can all substantially improve the latter at work to get the best out of each other and fulfill our collective potential.

By Camilla Pang,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Explaining Humans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY INSIGHT INVESTMENT SCIENCE BOOK PRIZE 2020

How proteins, machine learning and molecular chemistry can teach us about the complexities of human behaviour and the world around us

How do we understand the people around us? How do we recognise people's motivations, their behaviour, or even their facial expressions? And, when do we learn the social cues that dictate human behaviour?

Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at the age of eight, Camilla Pang struggled to understand the world around her and the way people worked. Desperate for a solution, Camilla asked her mother if there was…


Book cover of The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win

Jonathan Grotenstein Author Of Ship It Holla Ballas! How a Bunch of 19-Year-Old College Dropouts Used the Internet to Become Poker's Loudest, Craziest, and Richest Crew

From my list on high-stakes poker for people who hate math.

Why am I passionate about this?

As the kid of tournament bridge and Scrabble players, I’ve been hooked on games my whole life. None more so than poker, which has helped me make a living both at the tables and as a writer. I’m currently working on a TV adaptation of Ship It Holla Ballas!  

Jonathan's book list on high-stakes poker for people who hate math

Jonathan Grotenstein Why did Jonathan love this book?

Yet another magazine writer (this time, The New Yorker) using her advance money to take a shot at poker’s biggest tournament. But Konnikova’s enthusiastic and self-critical approach elevates her memoir into something more transcendent and celebratory than its predecessors. This is a love letter to poker, told with fierce intelligence and emotional honesty. If you want a deeper understanding of the game’s gravitational pull on a certain kind of mind, there’s no better guide.

By Maria Konnikova,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Biggest Bluff as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times bestseller * A New York Times Notable Book

"The tale of how Konnikova followed a story about poker players and wound up becoming a story herself will have you riveted, first as you learn about her big winnings, and then as she conveys the lessons she learned both about human nature and herself." -The Washington Post

It's true that Maria Konnikova had never actually played poker before and didn't even know the rules when she approached Erik Seidel, Poker Hall of Fame inductee and winner of tens of millions of dollars in earnings, and convinced him…


Book cover of By Light We Knew Our Names: Stories

Jacqueline Vogtman Author Of Girl Country: and Other Stories

From my list on magical realism by women writers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer who loves all kinds of fiction, but I’m most passionate about magical realism and related genres (like fabulism and speculative fiction). I love when writers skirt several genres, especially when their use of the “strange” holds a funhouse mirror up to our world and allows us to see a deeper truth. My favorite writers craft prose that rivals poetry and delve into their characters’ interior worlds; for me, one of fiction’s greatest magic tricks is the ability to enter another’s world and create empathy. The five authors on this list do all of these things and more, and they serve as some of my greatest inspirations.  

Jacqueline's book list on magical realism by women writers

Jacqueline Vogtman Why did Jacqueline love this book?

Full disclosure: Anne is a dear friend and was an MFA workshop-mate of mine.

But even if she wasn’t, I’m confident this would still be one of my favorite collections. There is so much magic in Valente’s writing, in the gorgeous prose but also in the content of the stories: ghosts, pink dolphins, tiny librarians, Northern Lights.

Much of the magic is not supernatural, but just the magic of the natural world, and Valente is a master of place; I’ve always admired her use of setting. Many of the stories deal with loss, grief, and pain, but the magic acts as a way to transcend these things, which is what I aim to do in my stories as well.

By Anne Valente,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked By Light We Knew Our Names as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From ghosts to pink dolphins to a fight club of young women who practice beneath the Alaskan aurora borealis, By Light We Knew Our Names examines the beauty and heartbreak of the world we live in. Across 13 stories, this collection explores the thin border between magic and grief.


Book cover of The Humanity of Thucydides

Neville Morley Author Of Thucydides and the Idea of History

From my list on understanding Thucydides.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian and classicist, teaching at the University of Exeter. I am equally interested in classical Greece and Rome, especially their economy and society, and in the ways that classical ideas and examples have been influential in the modern world.

Neville's book list on understanding Thucydides

Neville Morley Why did Neville love this book?

There is an equally strong tradition of reading Thucydides not as a historian, just interested in past events as an end in itself, but as a kind of political theorist who wanted to his work to be useful, as a guide to ‘the human thing’. Sometimes this produces incredibly crude readings of his work, such as the idea that Thucydides was a Realist who preached the power of the strong over the weak (actually those are ideas associated with people in his book), but there have been many powerful interpretations by political theorists who have deep knowledge of the text and relevant scholarship, and who can use this to explore contemporary issues of power, justice, and human motivation. I find Orwin’s account rich and thought-provoking, clearly the product of vast experience and deliberation.

By Clifford Orwin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Humanity of Thucydides as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Thucydides has long been celebrated for the unflinching realism of his presentation of political life. And yet, as some scholars have asserted, his work also displays a profound humanity. In the first thorough exploration of the relation between these two traits, Clifford Orwin argues that Thucydides' humanity is not a reflection of the author's temperament but an aspect of his thought, above all of his articulation of the central problem of political life, the tension between right and compulsion. This book provides the most complete treatment to date of Thucydides' handling of the problem of injustice, as well as the…


Book cover of The Tangled Wing: Biological Constraints on the Human Spirit

Howard Bloom Author Of The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of History

From my list on on changing the way you think.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been called the Einstein, Newton, Darwin, and Freud of the 21st century by Britain’s Channel 4 TV and the next Stephen Hawking by Gear Magazine. My passion is flying over all the sciences, all of history, and a chunk of the arts and pulling it all together in a new big picture. I’ve called this approach Omnology, the aspiration to omniscience. Sounds crazy, right? But I’ve published scientific papers or lectured at scholarly conferences in twelve different scientific disciplines, from quantum physics and cosmology to evolutionary biology, psychology, information science, and astronautics. And I’ve been published in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Wired, and many more.

Howard's book list on on changing the way you think

Howard Bloom Why did Howard love this book?

Melvin Konner is an anthropologist who joined the sociobiology revolution of the 1970s.  Like Barash, his style is sheer pleasure. He ranges from biology and psychology to research on hormones.  And his tales, his evidence, are fascinating beyond belief. They are derived from research on primitive tribes like the !Kung San In southern Africa, whose way of life sheds new light on the things you and I do every day.

By Melvin Konner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Tangled Wing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First published 20 years ago to great acclaim, "The Tangled Wing" soon became useful for anyone interested in the biological roots of human behaviour and emotions. Since then however, revolutions have taken place in the biological sciences not only in genetics but molecular biology and neuroscience as well. All of these innovations have been taken into account in this vastly expanded edition. In this synthesis of biology, psychology, anthropology and philosophy, Konner explores the seat of human emotions. He shows what is "natural" and what is merely construct. His discussion and analysis are both sensitive and straightforward, ranging from such…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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