What was the first book you read as a teenager that made a mark on you?

For some reason The Catcher in the Ryecomes to mind.  I can’t hardly recall how it all goes but I do remember the style in which it was written and how J.D. Salinger’s tone had this captivating way of keeping you interested.

Do you read often these days?

I’ve been way too busy for the leisurely read these days but I’d like to get back into it once things slow down a bit.  I find the best time to read is on long trips when you’ve got nothing but time.

Is there a local bookstore or library you frequent?

I enjoy cruising through local bookstores as I stumble upon them. I’ve been doing a lot of book purchases online lately though which can be hit or miss.

What book that you’ve read recently can you recommend to others?

Although it’s a tough one to get through, I always recommend A Brief History of Neoliberalism by David Harvey. He’s an anthropologist/geographer who has an amazing perspective on the interconnectedness of our global economy and how, although our current system is flawed, there is so much money and power dedicated to maintaining this “business as usual” model.  He’s just a really intelligent rebel! For someone like me who doesn’t always agree with our system, it’s comforting to understand why and how the world is messed up instead of spending your days thinking you’re the crazy one.  Nowadays, when someone says they can’t believe how ‘this’ or ‘that’ could be happening in the world, I always say, “Well, that’s neoliberalism.”

Without giving away too much, what’s that like and about?

The book describes four major events that happened sort of simultaneously around the world that explain, for example, why China produces all the crap for North America and Europe or why the World Bank is situated in the U.S. He explains that government has basically stepped back in most cases and let businesses run the world, allowing for the privatization of almost everything.  A good example is health care and how hospitals functioning as a business are forced to be more concerned with profit and return on investment than the overall health and wellness of the people. Harvey even explains how cities as a whole are becoming big businesses and why most cities are designed by only a handful of architects because they want to attract people and money to their cities. The takeaway from his book is that in theory, all of this sounds great but it has gnarly consequences and as I stated earlier, it’s hardly natural and requires constant ‘patch jobs’ that tend to negatively affect poor people the most.

I think skaters and Harvey share a similar view of the world, especially when it comes to his and Henri Lefebvre’s concept of ‘right to the city’.  In fact, Iain Borden references this a bunch in Skateboarding, Space and the City, especially with respect to places like Love Park (R.I.P.).  Borden’s book is also an amazing read, especially for skaters—Harvey’s books might just be for an urban nerd like me.

Portrait by James Morley