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An exuberant and insightful work of popular history of how streets got their names, houses their numbers, and what it reveals about class, race, power, and identity. When most people think about street addresses, if they think of them at all, it is in their capacity to ensure that the postman can deliver mail or a traveler won’t get lost. But street addresses were not inven An exuberant and insightful work of popular history of how streets got their names, houses their numbers, and what it reveals about class, race, power, and identity. When most people think about street addresses, if they think of them at all, it is in their capacity to ensure that the postman can deliver mail or a traveler won’t get lost. But street addresses were not invented to help you find your way; they were created to find you. In many parts of the world, your address can reveal your race and class. In this wide-ranging and remarkable book, Deirdre Mask looks at the fate of streets named after Martin Luther King Jr., the wayfinding means of ancient Romans, and how Nazis haunt the streets of modern Germany. The flipside of having an address is not having one, and we also see what that means for millions of people today, including those who live in the slums of Kolkata and on the streets of London. Filled with fascinating people and histories, The Address Book illuminates the complex and sometimes hidden stories behind street names and their power to name, to hide, to decide who counts, who doesn’t―and why.


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An exuberant and insightful work of popular history of how streets got their names, houses their numbers, and what it reveals about class, race, power, and identity. When most people think about street addresses, if they think of them at all, it is in their capacity to ensure that the postman can deliver mail or a traveler won’t get lost. But street addresses were not inven An exuberant and insightful work of popular history of how streets got their names, houses their numbers, and what it reveals about class, race, power, and identity. When most people think about street addresses, if they think of them at all, it is in their capacity to ensure that the postman can deliver mail or a traveler won’t get lost. But street addresses were not invented to help you find your way; they were created to find you. In many parts of the world, your address can reveal your race and class. In this wide-ranging and remarkable book, Deirdre Mask looks at the fate of streets named after Martin Luther King Jr., the wayfinding means of ancient Romans, and how Nazis haunt the streets of modern Germany. The flipside of having an address is not having one, and we also see what that means for millions of people today, including those who live in the slums of Kolkata and on the streets of London. Filled with fascinating people and histories, The Address Book illuminates the complex and sometimes hidden stories behind street names and their power to name, to hide, to decide who counts, who doesn’t―and why.

30 review for The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power

  1. 4 out of 5

    carol.

    I love words and have noted plenty of irony in suburban addresses more than once (where are the oaks on Oak Trail?). So when I read a review of Mask's book about addresses, I jumped at it. Mask takes a broad look at addresses, at the history and current issues relating to describing the places we live. Her introduction is essay-worthy of itself, giving a solid overview of where they come from and why we should care. She relates a story of visiting an address-less town in Appalachia and what it m I love words and have noted plenty of irony in suburban addresses more than once (where are the oaks on Oak Trail?). So when I read a review of Mask's book about addresses, I jumped at it. Mask takes a broad look at addresses, at the history and current issues relating to describing the places we live. Her introduction is essay-worthy of itself, giving a solid overview of where they come from and why we should care. She relates a story of visiting an address-less town in Appalachia and what it means in both concrete (directions to visitors, ambulances, property rights) and philosophical/political senses (after looking at a house on Black Boy Lane), as well as where the names come from once you create an address. Mask is an engaging, accessible writer, and the early chapters flew by. After the introduction, the book is divided into five sections: Development, Origins, Politics, Race, and Class and Status. It's followed by a hefty bibliography, for those who want to check references and be reassured she isn't merely writing a light-weight interest story. Each section has at least a couple of essays exploring the topic, nominally written around an example city.  Development looks at Kolkata and the problem of street addresses and slum transformation. "But the lack of addresses was depriving those living in the slums a chance to get out of them. Without an address, it’s nearly impossible to get a bank account. And without a bank account, you can’t save money, borrow money, or receive a state pension." The second section looks at disease and addresses. In London in 1765 all houses were given numbers. When death certificates were done they had the address of the victim, which allowed Dr. John Snow tracing of a cholera epidemic. Brief discussion follows of the cholera epidemic in Haiti and how lack of addresses challenged pinpointing the source. Under Origins section, 'Rome: How did the ancient Romans navigate' goes more into how addresses came about. Interestingly, despite being one of cultural touchpoints for government organization, the Romans, did not use addresses or street names. I found discussion of a MIT researcher in the 1950s talking about mental maps fascinating. Some cities are ‘highly imageable’ to our senses, which made them more memorable. She also relates a physiological study about how mental maps cause more of the hippocampus to fire, while using GPS/navigation causes less. There is some speculation here in this section, about how ancient Romans might have navigated, using the input from research.  Also under Origins, 'London: Where do street names come from,' contains some of the details of how street names came about, both in common parlance and in development of the postal system. "House numbers were not invented to help you navigate the city or receive your mail, though they perform those two functions admirably. Instead they were designed to make you easier to tax, imprison, and police. House numbers exist not to help you find your way, but rather to help the government find you." Part of the section also investigates how the recently created addresses helped a doctor track down a cholera outbreak. 'Vienna: What can house numbers teach us about power' continues the theme of government motivations, beginning with how giving house numbers in Vienna helped the ruler discover and track men of fighting age for conscription. This goes a little sideways into surnames as well, especially with government regulation with Native Americans and Jews in many countries. There was a French police officer, Guillauté, who created one of the first efforts at police Big Data by devising a mechanical file cabinet and tracking system for all French citizens in the 1750s. 'Philadelphia' is a more historical section, tracing the development of numbered streets in Manhattan and Philadelphia. 'Korea and Japan: Must streets be named' was intriguing in it's philosophical bent. Try this concept on: "Instead of naming its streets, Tokyo numbers its blocks. Streets are simply the spaces between the blocks. And buildings in Tokyo are, for the most part, numbered not in geographical order, but according to when they were built." Mind blown. Buildings connecting over time, instead of just location. Apparently, it comes from when the owners for each block had responsibility for government. She then segues into the theory of mental images and places, and connects Tokyo's system to it's most prevalent form of writing, Kanji, which is in 'logograms--each character represents a word or idea.' Children learn kanji by writing on grid-paper. 'Politics' examines address names in Iran and their connection to revolutionaries. The section on Berlin looks at how street names changed back and forth with politics: from pre-Nazi; to Nazi period, where any Jewish connected address was renamed; post-WWII when East and West Berlin got new street names again as the city tried to erase the past; and again, post-unification. One of the saddest commentaries came from an interviewee who had discovered she and her hairstylist were raised in the same city but had known the schools under different names: "We cannot talk about places that we have no common name for. Talking about cities, schools, and streets in East Germany, you have to translate between old, new, and very old." The 'Race' section looks at Confederate names in Hollywood, Florida, and an activist who has been trying to get three streets renamed for over a decade. Another piece looks at MLK Jr. streets across America and one man's effort to beautify his in St. Louis. The final piece 'South Africa: Who belongs on South Africa's street signs,' looks at names in South Africa pre and post-apartheid, and considers the context of British influence and the Afrikaaner culture. This was a fascinating section. Although her essay predates #BLM and the removal of Confederate statutes, it ably demonstrates that the issue has been known and 'debated' endlessly to the disrespect of a formerly enslaved people. It only takes the sections on Berlin and South Africa to understand that what seems to be a refusal to 'erase' part of U.S. history by removing statutes is also about retaining a culture and a power difference embodied by naming prominent streets after infamous insurrectionists looking to maintain slavery--Lee, Hood (John Bell Hood) and Forrest (Nathan Bedford Forrest). To run them through Liberia, the Black section of Hollywood, Florida, is to demonstrate the power differential to the Black citizens. The last section, 'Class and Status' contains two essays. The first covers Manhattan and status connected to addresses, and developers' push to buy a name. For instance, 1 Central Park West (developed by Trump) had asked the city to change it's designated address from 15 Columbus Circle. It was, but somehow just a few years later, "Time Warner built a tower behind Trump's, naming it One Central Park--even though its address was really 25 Columbus Circle." The last is 'Homelessness: How do you live without an address' revisits some of the issues raised in the slums of India and what not having an address means. One English innovator suggested a mail forwarding system using the 200,000 houses in London that are empty six months of the year, or the 11k that have been unoccupied for over ten years. These two felt surprisingly light, more like specifically written magazine pieces, given how full earlier chapters were. But the quality is good--think The New Yorker.  As with the introduction, she uses her conclusion to discuss other aspects of addresses, specifically about new efforts by Google and by smaller companies such as what3words to have a world-wide address system. what3words boggles my mind with it's grid system and naming based on three words. Overall, even the lighter pieces had me thinking. I found it a fascinating read examining the intersection of place and culture.  cross posted at my blog, where there are links and such. https://clsiewert.wordpress.com/2021/...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Anne Bogel

    I picked up this urban-planning adjacent book at the suggestion of multiple readers who knew of my obsession with the subject. Mask's thorough exploration of the hidden history and meanings of the street address take her all the way from ancient Rome to contemporary U.S. cities. I found this fascinating, illuminating, highly relevant, and surprisingly timely: a recurring theme in the book is the role of street addresses in identifying and stopping epidemics. I picked up this urban-planning adjacent book at the suggestion of multiple readers who knew of my obsession with the subject. Mask's thorough exploration of the hidden history and meanings of the street address take her all the way from ancient Rome to contemporary U.S. cities. I found this fascinating, illuminating, highly relevant, and surprisingly timely: a recurring theme in the book is the role of street addresses in identifying and stopping epidemics.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    This is gonna be a mediocre review because I did a mediocre job of reading this book. I found The Address Book a fascinating examination of the power of addresses and how they shape our lives. Like most if not everything, even possessing an address relates to how much privilege and power you have in society. Deirdre Mask makes this point in many different ways through her discussions of so many different historical and cultural contexts related to addresses. For example, her writing about how an This is gonna be a mediocre review because I did a mediocre job of reading this book. I found The Address Book a fascinating examination of the power of addresses and how they shape our lives. Like most if not everything, even possessing an address relates to how much privilege and power you have in society. Deirdre Mask makes this point in many different ways through her discussions of so many different historical and cultural contexts related to addresses. For example, her writing about how an address is very often necessary to even apply for a job or a medical appointment reinforced the importance of having an address and how much it sucks that an address can be difficult for so many people to attain. I say that I did a mediocre job reading this book because I felt like very little of the information actually stuck in my brain. I think my three-star rating stems more from a mismatch between me and the book than a flaw in the book. I prefer nonfiction that really delves into one central topic and comes back to that topic even if it approaches it from different angles. I felt like Mask went over so many different examples from so many different sectors of society and periods in history that I got lost. I would recommend this one for those who are interested in urban planning, how geography and poverty intersect, and related topics, but if you’re more of a general nonfiction reader, I’d be more cautious about trying this book out.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Audrey

    Maybe like 4.75 stars but who cares. Love love love love love love love. This book was everything I was hoping it would be and so much more. Sometimes I just have the urge to learn a butt-load about a random topic and this book delivered in the form of street addresses. It was so fascinating and informative without being info-dumpy, and raised some incredible points that I don't think the average person ever thinks about. I learned about cool charities and companies I had never heard of, and saw Maybe like 4.75 stars but who cares. Love love love love love love love. This book was everything I was hoping it would be and so much more. Sometimes I just have the urge to learn a butt-load about a random topic and this book delivered in the form of street addresses. It was so fascinating and informative without being info-dumpy, and raised some incredible points that I don't think the average person ever thinks about. I learned about cool charities and companies I had never heard of, and saw historical periods in a new light. If the topic sounds remotely interesting to you, I would definitely pick this one up. Each chapter covers a different area of the world and concept, and some of them were definitely more interesting to me than others, but I think there is something to enjoy on every page.

  5. 5 out of 5

    David Wineberg

    The simple street address is not only a relatively new concept, it is controversial everywhere it is implemented. Deirdre Mask has spent years traveling and discovering how people get on without addresses, how different implementations work (or don't), how addresses have figured in history, and how the digital world wants to change it all. She has put it together in her charming and engaging The Address Book. The even/odd address system that most Americans are so accustomed to began in Philadelph The simple street address is not only a relatively new concept, it is controversial everywhere it is implemented. Deirdre Mask has spent years traveling and discovering how people get on without addresses, how different implementations work (or don't), how addresses have figured in history, and how the digital world wants to change it all. She has put it together in her charming and engaging The Address Book. The even/odd address system that most Americans are so accustomed to began in Philadelphia just three hundred years ago. It works, and yet Chicago had to to invent its own system 200 years later. The Japanese number blocks and not houses (and they are not alone in that). Some assign numbers by the year the building went up instead of sequentially. And many, many places still have no identifying systems in place at all. Mask uses the example of ancient Rome, a metropolis of a million, where without addresses, directions to find anyone or anything were, to put it mildly, involved. And yet, the city functioned as no other before it. Somewhat less functional was her experience in modern-day West Virginia, where a lack of street names and addresses led her to ask numerous people for directions, and still failing, had someone lead her almost there. While that might seem unreasonable in a connected world, it does mean that locals become experts. Their knowledge grows vast, having to know people, landmarks, ruins, individual trees, people's homes, and what might have been there along the way before. Mask points out that GPS requires almost no brain power, and Americans use less and less of it make their way anywhere anymore. In western society at least, not having a street address is fatal. It's essentially impossible to open a bank account, obtain a legitimate ID, rent an apartment, or get a job without one. This artificial prejudice is primarily a legal complication, of course. The government wants everyone to be traceable, for income tax purposes, for criminal pursuit, and for good old control. The unintended consequences include marginalizing an already marginal group, for life. Once they fall into that trap, there is rarely escape. Schemes to allow the homeless to use the address of a shelter, or vacant housing, have gone nowhere. If you don't have a street address, you are a non-entity. In the UK, organizations like the National Health Service and Unemployment services persist in using snail mail. If you don't get the letter and miss your appointment, it's curtains. You are canceled. She says: "Without an address, you are limited to communicating only with people who know you. And it's often people who don't know you who can most help you." Address data is problematic. It has many great uses, but also dark sides. Addresses can mark people as living in bad districts, or racially dominated districts, poor or rich, religiously focused or mixed. Assumptions are assumed, loans approved or denied, interest rates lowered or raised, 911 calls answered or not, depending on the address attached. In the attempts over the years to assign addresses, people did not want them because they didn't want the junk mail, or to be followed or trackable. Freedom from street addresses is very real for some. Long before there were National ID numbers and Social Security Numbers to protest, there were street addresses that primarily benefited the monarch, the police and the tax collector. The Address Book wanders globally and throughout history, with Mask injecting history lessons with great storytelling abilities. She tells the stories of Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, of Marie-Theresa of Austria, the slums of Kolkata, how European Jews got their last names and navigating Tokyo all by their connections to street names and numbers. Mask says the discussion of street names and numbers can dominate local politics, shooting to the top of the agenda when up for discussion. This can be a near daily thing in New York or Paris, where renaming is all but constant. Or it can happen when a community wants to remove Confederate names in the USA, or Nazi names in Germany. Some will cling to tradition and claim they will be lost otherwise. Some don't like the replacements. Developers will maneuver to obtain chic addresses, forcing the current user to change everything. It's always a struggle. This seems to be particularly true of England, where the original street names could be particularly descriptive of what went on there, in a very raw and crude sense. Today, those names add character, and higher valuations. Lane tops Boulevard in sales pricing, and embarrassing names can cause sales to take forever. I for one have long joked I could never live at the corner of Tinker Bell Boulevard and Goofy Gulch in a Disney development. On the other hand, living at Mortgage Heights and Default Drive is no privilege either. For the near future, companies like Google and what3words are creating global systems that computers (of course) generate. What3words, for example, has divided the planet into three-metre (10 ft) squares, each labeled by three common words. Look up a three word combo on its website, and the map function takes you to a very specific spot that needs no further description. Sadly, it is in English, which does not work for everyone . So the company is developing other language systems, and you will have to know what language the three word are in and choose that subsystem in order for it to work. Google is doing the same thing with a seven digit code that is most unmemorable. Unlike The Address Book, which is a delight, it kinda takes the romance and character out of it. David Wineberg

  6. 4 out of 5

    Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship

    This is a fun, informative, wide-ranging and highly readable book, all centered on street addresses. Mask draws from an admirably broad range of material, leaping from the difficulties of navigation in rural West Virginia causing ambulances to go astray to the local government of Kolkata refusing to dignify slum-dwellers with named streets; from the Romans’ landmark-based navigation to the controversial Enlightenment project of numbering houses to better tax and police residents; from the renami This is a fun, informative, wide-ranging and highly readable book, all centered on street addresses. Mask draws from an admirably broad range of material, leaping from the difficulties of navigation in rural West Virginia causing ambulances to go astray to the local government of Kolkata refusing to dignify slum-dwellers with named streets; from the Romans’ landmark-based navigation to the controversial Enlightenment project of numbering houses to better tax and police residents; from the renaming of streets after revolutions and coups to the fights over who should be memorialized in street names in South Africa and the American South. Street names are the organizing principle, but really this is a book about history, politics and culture, as reflected through street names and navigation. There’s a whole chapter on mapping cholera epidemics (in 19th century England and modern Haiti) to discover their sources, another on development and plutocracy in New York City, a third on the differences between Western and Japanese mental maps. So this book is a treat for anyone interested in reading stories from a wide variety of times and places, all very readable and evidently well-researched, and with contemporary relevance. The blurb on the back from someone claiming the book changed his life seems way over-the-top—I don’t think this book is even intended to do that, but rather to educate and entertain, while raising questions about race, class, and how history is remembered. It covers so much ground in a relatively short book that there isn’t time for a huge amount of depth on any one subject, but it does so without ever feeling rushed or superficial. I enjoyed this a lot, learned from it and recommend it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Alex Sarll

    Yes, as in a whole book about addresses, part of that non-fiction genre which answers questions you didn't know you had about something which, at least if you live in the urban West, you've probably taken for granted as beneath the threshold of notice. But being from Profile/Serpent's Tail, not a publisher known for Christmas cash-ins (and indeed, it's not out until April), it takes a far more political angle than many such. We open in rural West Virginia, where most people don't have addresses Yes, as in a whole book about addresses, part of that non-fiction genre which answers questions you didn't know you had about something which, at least if you live in the urban West, you've probably taken for granted as beneath the threshold of notice. But being from Profile/Serpent's Tail, not a publisher known for Christmas cash-ins (and indeed, it's not out until April), it takes a far more political angle than many such. We open in rural West Virginia, where most people don't have addresses and plenty would like to keep it that way, retaining a deep backwoods suspicion of the government in all its forms, even if the current set-up means people dying because paramedics can't follow idiosyncratic directions down confusing lanes. Amusingly, some chapters later in Vienna, one of the birthplaces of house numbers (like lightbulbs, they seemed to spring up all over around the same time), an expert on the subject tells the author they're right. Yes, there are house number experts, or one, at least – Anton Tantner, whose book House Numbers makes Mask's theme seem shamelessly broad by comparison. "House numbers, he tells his readers, were not invented to help you navigate the city or receive your mail, though they perform these two tasks admirably. Instead they were designed to find you, tax you, imprison you, protect you. Rather than helping you find your way, house numbers help the government find you." That's a few chapters on, though. First we jump from the American countryside to Tottenham, and a street I myself boggled at when I first passed it back in my North London days, where Mask briefly considered buying a house which had a lot in its favour; still, you can see why an African American writer might have opted not to live on Black Boy Lane. Elsewhere, Mask visits the slums of Kolkata, where a new project is intending to give even the most makeshift dwellings addresses – albeit, she notes, on a different system to the city proper; imperfect improvements to a system broken on so many levels are a running theme in the book. In the meantime, it's dispiriting if hardly surprising that a home-grown, democratically elected communist government should have been just as ready to dismiss the slum-dwellers as the Raj ever was, concerned that giving them addresses would mean admitting they were there in the first place. Not that the city will be unique in having parallel systems, which turn out to be surprisingly common, albeit along various different axes: Czech houses have a number for government and another for directional use; in Florence, residential and business purposes have different numbers. And plenty of other ways have been found to make a mess of the whole business, not least when money gets involved. In NYC, addresses can be changed for $11,000 – peanuts in property developer terms. But even one of the city's most famous addresses, Times Square, turns out to have been a vanity renaming to match London's 'Arsenal' station (GILLESPIE ROAD WILL RISE AGAIN!). Nor is the issue unique to Manhattan; in Chicago, a woman named Nancy Clay died because firefighters hadn't realised that the building One Illinois Place wasn't actually situated on Illinois Place. Something horribly Grenfell about that death by property prices, which makes one take a real glee in one London project Mask finds, a solution to the problem whereby homeless people almost have as many problems following from not having an address as they do from not having a home. Now, the proposal runs, they can be given dummy addresses of unoccupied properties, which will forward to post offices or the like. And what's one of the biggest batches of unoccupied properties? The ones the wealthy have bought purely as investments and then left empty. Sure, it would be better to actually let the cold and hungry live in them, but in the meantime, nicking their coveted postcodes would be a wonderful start. To the British reader, some stories may be familiar, such as that of postal reformer Rowland Hill. It's poignant to be reminded, having seen how well the idea of state-funded broadband went down, that the penny post was also "a measure many thought would bankrupt the nation", and which instead proved a huge money-spinner. But as with John Snow and his ghost map, Mask uses old stories to make newer points; in Snow's case, as a contrast with this decade's cholera outbreak in Haiti where, unlike in Snow's Soho, there were determined efforts at obfuscating the UN's responsibility. So a story usually produced to show how knowledge saves lives is flipped - and, as she points out, while Snow may have ended one local epidemic, the wholesale eradication of cholera as a feature of London life came with the great sewer-building works...which were largely about getting rid of 'miasma'. A less grave example: most of my smutty-minded compatriots will know about Gropecunt Lane, but here its appearance serves to set up a hilarious though apparently sincere passage of charming American innocence over the campaign to rename a street in the West Midlands town of Rowley Regis: "I thought it sounded elegant – the light trill of the word Bell paired with the serious and solid End." I suppose the story of William Penn, Philadelphia and the birth of the US grid system may well be as familiar to Americans as Hill, Snow and Bell End are to us, but it was new to me. And I'm fairly sure no Briton could have written with such equanimity about the various streets around the world named for Bobby Sands – although, perhaps helped by her husband coming from Cookstown, Mask addresses the Troubles* with considerably more nuance than most American writers manage. Elsewhere she offers an intriguing investigation into whether linguistics affects addressing conventions, with reference to Japanese and Korean, albeit one which ends on a wonderfully bathetic note, and takes us to South Africa's Constitutional Court, where the judges don't split along the left-right lines of the US supreme court, or even racial ones - except when it comes to renaming streets. An area in which Mandela erred on the side of caution ("a tactic to make the revolution seem less revolutionary"), but his successor Mbeki veered the other way. Some of these were names including racial slurs, or commemorating Afrikaaner heroes, where one can entirely see his point - but then you get to Mangosuthu Highway, named for an Inkatha Freedom Party leader, where switching that to ANC activist Griffiths Mxenge is nothing nobler than party favouritism. These complex, imperfect situations recur over and over, right through to the conclusion, where Mask talks about the way projects such as what3words usefully offer addresses for the previously unaddressable, while also noting that as the product of for-profit tech firms, the potential implications are troubling. Along the way we look at whether Romans had addresses, and if not how they managed, and encounter the concept of 'imageability', or more widely memorability, which explains why Boston and Florence are easier to navigate than Jersey City. It's a book of which I've been dropping snippets into conversations since I started reading it, and which I'd be buying at least one person for Christmas if only it weren't for that aforementioned release date issue. Ah well, maybe next year, if only we aren't all living amidst the rubble by then. *I suppose that's yet another 20th century franchise due for an unwanted reboot soon. (Netgalley ARC)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    Deirdre Mask, who writes for publications such as the New Yorker and Atlantic, toured the world, coming up with information on the influence street addresses wield. She discusses the origins of street addresses and different systems used around the world. Japan uses blocks instead of streets. She (and others) attribute it to the way persons learn writing in various cultures. She goes on to discuss the role politics and race play in the process. She then turns to a discussion of social strata by Deirdre Mask, who writes for publications such as the New Yorker and Atlantic, toured the world, coming up with information on the influence street addresses wield. She discusses the origins of street addresses and different systems used around the world. Japan uses blocks instead of streets. She (and others) attribute it to the way persons learn writing in various cultures. She goes on to discuss the role politics and race play in the process. She then turns to a discussion of social strata by showing how the elite purchase custom addresses and how homeless persons fail to move beyond their circumstances by lack of an address. At the end she discusses the future of addresses by looking at emerging trends using big data. While parts of the book were interesting, the book did not engage me as I hoped it would. I tend to dislike books that rely more on journalistic perspectives bringing the first person into the discussion of a possible academic topic. While the book was more engaging than an academic tome might be, the first person perspective creates a distrust of information presented, particularly in this day of blind endnotes. The book used these detested blind endnotes. Many of these referred to web articles rather than academic publications. The book included an index. One of the book's weaknesses was a failure to examine rural America adequately. While she examined some names in rural West Virginia, she did not look at the many places where roads are simply numbered with "County Road XXX" with XXX being a number. She simply failed to look at the rest of the country for patterns. I conclude that those who name streets should refrain from naming them after persons. Someone heroic to one generation may represent something else entirely to future generations.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Dalton

    I’ll be the first to admit, I wasn’t craving for a book about street addresses. However, this was such an expectedly thoughtful and detailed book which expanded well beyond my initial impression. Diving deep into race, politics, identity, class, geography, and culture, Deirdre Mask unlocks a treasure trove of fascinating stories and histories. I had never fully appreciated how central and all-encompassing a seemingly banal street address could be until reading this book. The Address Book really I’ll be the first to admit, I wasn’t craving for a book about street addresses. However, this was such an expectedly thoughtful and detailed book which expanded well beyond my initial impression. Diving deep into race, politics, identity, class, geography, and culture, Deirdre Mask unlocks a treasure trove of fascinating stories and histories. I had never fully appreciated how central and all-encompassing a seemingly banal street address could be until reading this book. The Address Book really is for everyone whose ever had an address.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Holly Dowell

    This book was absolutely fascinating. The subtitle gives you a good idea of the contents, but doesn’t let you know how fun it is to read. Deirdre Mask’s writing style is incredibly approachable as she explains the history and implications of addressing around the world. She couples anecdotes with thoroughly researched analysis. I learned so much from this book and found myself sad it was over because it sort of felt like sitting at a bar with a captivating friend who knows a ton and can tell eng This book was absolutely fascinating. The subtitle gives you a good idea of the contents, but doesn’t let you know how fun it is to read. Deirdre Mask’s writing style is incredibly approachable as she explains the history and implications of addressing around the world. She couples anecdotes with thoroughly researched analysis. I learned so much from this book and found myself sad it was over because it sort of felt like sitting at a bar with a captivating friend who knows a ton and can tell engaging stories for hours with both humor and substance.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    As a child, I looked at atlases for fun. As an adult, I'm a social studies teacher who looks at school district maps for gerrymandering of boundary lines that create defacto segregation. The Address Book ticked so many intellectual boxes for me. I was totally engrossed in the evolution and importance of addresses. From a craft perspective, I enjoyed the way the author started the book by addressing (literally and figuratively) the rural areas of West Virginia and slums in Kolkata, their lack of As a child, I looked at atlases for fun. As an adult, I'm a social studies teacher who looks at school district maps for gerrymandering of boundary lines that create defacto segregation. The Address Book ticked so many intellectual boxes for me. I was totally engrossed in the evolution and importance of addresses. From a craft perspective, I enjoyed the way the author started the book by addressing (literally and figuratively) the rural areas of West Virginia and slums in Kolkata, their lack of addresses, and the importance of having a number and street on which you live and ended the book by discussing new technologies and strategies for giving addresses to the unhoused. Interspersed with the historical research, Mask provided humor and social justice commentaries. I found myself smirking like a fifth grader at "Butt Hole Lane" and shaking my head at the pettiness of "vanity addresses" in Manhattan. The chapters on Confederate street names and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevards were especially poignant in 2020. I was incredibly excited, as a teacher of psychology and geography, when she talked about how language affect how cultures create addresses. For example, in languages like English and Hebrew, which are written linearly, streets and linear concepts rule when it comes to addresses. However, in languages like Japanese and Korean, characters that are written in blocks are how the language is built. As a result, Tokyo is organized in blocks as opposed to linear streets. Linguistic determinism meets geographic determinism. So.Exciting. In short, I loved this book and have been telling everyone to read it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    〰️Beth〰️

    Having done some study of urban planning and development, I was interested when one of my groups picked this as a group read. Enjoyed how this looked at multiple global areas in regards to the need for street names and why that is important. In many ways a timely book, full of wonderful information, and a much more engaging book than your basic geography or urban planning text. I hope many people will pick this up to read and realize how important a number and a name on a road, be it macadam, gr Having done some study of urban planning and development, I was interested when one of my groups picked this as a group read. Enjoyed how this looked at multiple global areas in regards to the need for street names and why that is important. In many ways a timely book, full of wonderful information, and a much more engaging book than your basic geography or urban planning text. I hope many people will pick this up to read and realize how important a number and a name on a road, be it macadam, gravel or dirt, can be for those who live on that undesignated stretch of land.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tonstant Weader

    The Address Book explores street addresses and how and where they began and why they matter. But that sounds so dull compared to the fascinating stories that fill this book. Deirdre Mask first discusses why addresses matter. Anyone who has tried to register houseless citizens knows how important it is. An address is how you connect with your government and how it connects with you. That last part is really how it began, in an effort to know who lived where in order to draft them. Mask travels the The Address Book explores street addresses and how and where they began and why they matter. But that sounds so dull compared to the fascinating stories that fill this book. Deirdre Mask first discusses why addresses matter. Anyone who has tried to register houseless citizens knows how important it is. An address is how you connect with your government and how it connects with you. That last part is really how it began, in an effort to know who lived where in order to draft them. Mask travels the world, to Kolkata to go out with Address the Unaddressed that works to give people addresses for identification and the ability to open a bank account for example and to Haiti to learn how lack of street addresses impeded the efforts to stop the cholera epidemic there. She writes about geographies that are hard to imagine, big cities without street names, not just Ancient Rome but modern Tokyo. Mask also writes about the power of street names and why people will pay $11,000 for a vanity address in New York City. We learn why we have numbered streets in America, something uncommon elsewhere. Street names also change, they change after revolutions and with changing social mores. The name a street has may also change it. When a street is named to honor Martin Luther King, for example, it often leads to a loss in property value. She tackles the controversy of streets named after Confederate soldiers and contrasts that with street names in South Africa. How do we live without an address? This book made me wonder how many of the houseless will receive the Economic Impact Payment they are owed. Mask also looks forward to the digital solutions that have been developed using GPS. It is all incredibly fascinating and wonderful. The Address Book is one of those books that make me want to run around to everyone I know and say “Read this book!” I love those books written by people who are passionately curious and somewhat obsessed with a topic, with the kind of obsession that leads them to dig into the ins and outs and implications it elicits. It’s the obsession that takes something so simple as a street address and asks what does it represent in terms of class, race, power, history, and everything in between. She also writes with the kind of enthusiasm that makes me smile. It’s full of the “did you know” kind of factoids that make for a happy reader. So, enough of this review, go read this book! I received an ARC of The Address Book from the publisher through Shelf Awareness The Address Book at St. Martin’s Press | Macmillan Deirdre Mask author site https://tonstantweaderreviews.wordpre...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Henry

    One of the worst books I've come across in many years. I had a lot of faith in this as I have always been fascinated by street names and addressing in general. It turns out to be a mishmash of many "stories" that are not even remotely related to the subject. Out of the 16 chapters including the introduction and conclusion, there maybe three or four of them mildly interesting and with contents that are some what related to the subject matter. It does sound like that the author has input significan One of the worst books I've come across in many years. I had a lot of faith in this as I have always been fascinated by street names and addressing in general. It turns out to be a mishmash of many "stories" that are not even remotely related to the subject. Out of the 16 chapters including the introduction and conclusion, there maybe three or four of them mildly interesting and with contents that are some what related to the subject matter. It does sound like that the author has input significant research effort for the book, considering the many times she mentioned calling up or visiting somebody for a conversation, and the fact that for 270-odd pages of main content there're close to 40 pages of notes. The product of these endeavours is however disappointing as I can easily questions some of the conclusions or observations drawn from these researches. In other cases, I struggle to understand why those stories matter at all. It is unbelievable how a professional writer like the author of this book failed to select relevant materials and structure the book in a way that will do justice to the subject. I can imagine so many different ways to tackle this subject more interestingly than what is presented in this book. I've never said this in my life about any book, but, can I get a refund?

  15. 4 out of 5

    Molly

    I really didn't expect a book about street addresses to be so compelling, but here we are. Deirdre Mask has written a compelling, thoughtful exploration of what it means to have an address (and not to have an address). . I really appreciated her global perspective, and I learned a lot about things I'd never thought about before. I really didn't expect a book about street addresses to be so compelling, but here we are. Deirdre Mask has written a compelling, thoughtful exploration of what it means to have an address (and not to have an address). . I really appreciated her global perspective, and I learned a lot about things I'd never thought about before.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    This was absolutely excellent. I never really thought about the fact that addresses really say so much about politics and our world. Fascinating when you shift the lens slightly, how you can look at the same thing but see something completely different

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ron

    “House numbers exist not to help you find your way, but rather to help the government find you.” Entertaining book about the evolution and impact of house addresses. Unfortunately marred by several agendas which have little to do with the subject. Lots of emotion, suggestion, and fabrication. “The employers’ blatant discrimination is based in part on mistaken views of who the homeless really are.” Unfortunately, Mask strays often from facts into assumptions and opinion. Opinions are fine if presen “House numbers exist not to help you find your way, but rather to help the government find you.” Entertaining book about the evolution and impact of house addresses. Unfortunately marred by several agendas which have little to do with the subject. Lots of emotion, suggestion, and fabrication. “The employers’ blatant discrimination is based in part on mistaken views of who the homeless really are.” Unfortunately, Mask strays often from facts into assumptions and opinion. Opinions are fine if presented as such. “If they couldn’t number you, if they couldn’t conscript you, if they couldn’t see you, they didn’t own you—you really were a free man.” How does it merit three stars? Lots of good, if trivial facts among the politics. Mostly because Mask’s concerns are well-founded, if not well presented. “We don’t know what the near future is going to look like—technologically or politically. Change seems to come more outrageously every year. And the more things change, the more we feel the need to anchor ourselves to the past. Street addresses have become one way to remember.”

  18. 5 out of 5

    Carolien

    I studied town planning so this book took me back to my study days and continuing interest in cities. A fascinating look at the origin of addresses (the government needed to be able to find its citizens), the differences between cultures (do you name the street or the space around it), the process to allocate addresses and the protests against name changes over the centuries. Quite a few chapters in the book considers persons who are caught in a situation with no address either by location (squa I studied town planning so this book took me back to my study days and continuing interest in cities. A fascinating look at the origin of addresses (the government needed to be able to find its citizens), the differences between cultures (do you name the street or the space around it), the process to allocate addresses and the protests against name changes over the centuries. Quite a few chapters in the book considers persons who are caught in a situation with no address either by location (squatter camps, etc) or circumstance (homelessness) and how that limits choices and options. The book is geographically very diverse – from Vienna to Seoul, Haiti to Pretoria and lots of places in between which I enjoyed. Really enjoyed this one and I will cherish my address much more in future.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Maheema H

    If u come across this book, please read it

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ciera

    In many parts of the world, an address is more than a series of numbers and letters needed to receive a package or a letter. An address can reveal information about your race, class, and ultimately your identity. Deirdre Mask, writer for The Atlantic, The New York Times, and The Harvard Law Review, illuminates the complexities of how streets and addresses were created in cities including present-day New York, Pennsylvania, and even Ancient Rome. Mask also discusses how not having an address can In many parts of the world, an address is more than a series of numbers and letters needed to receive a package or a letter. An address can reveal information about your race, class, and ultimately your identity. Deirdre Mask, writer for The Atlantic, The New York Times, and The Harvard Law Review, illuminates the complexities of how streets and addresses were created in cities including present-day New York, Pennsylvania, and even Ancient Rome. Mask also discusses how not having an address can prevent people from acquiring some of the basic necessities like applying for a job, a passport, or an ID card. Each chapter focuses on a different country or city, discussing how addresses and street names are an indication of a community’s politics, race, and class status. I was extremely excited for this book to arrive on my doorstep a few months ago. This is a topic I knew absolutely nothing about, and I was thrilled to learn more about whether or not our addresses really define us (hint: in a way they do!). Mask’s findings and analyses are quite insightful and informative, and I learned a lot by reading her book. Each chapter presents a series of anecdotes that Mask uses to set up the scene. While informative, I found them to drag on for a bit before being introduced to the core analysis of Mask's findings. Nevertheless, I found the book to be quite insightful and captivating, providing really interesting tidbits of information that are incredibly well researched (the index is over 30 pages long!). This is an excellent read for history buffs eager to learn more about the history of street addresses and what it means to have, or not have an address. Thank you St. Martin's Press for an advance reader copy!

  21. 4 out of 5

    MIKE Watkins Jr.

    Pros: 1. The book truly shows how important addresses are. We often think that the main essential ingredient that homeless people need in order to thrive is a home, but it's not a physical home it's an address. "By definition homeless people don't have homes. But an address is not a home. AN address today, is an identity; it's a way for society to check that you are not just a person but the person you say you are. How many times have you been asked to show proof of address to register a child in Pros: 1. The book truly shows how important addresses are. We often think that the main essential ingredient that homeless people need in order to thrive is a home, but it's not a physical home it's an address. "By definition homeless people don't have homes. But an address is not a home. AN address today, is an identity; it's a way for society to check that you are not just a person but the person you say you are. How many times have you been asked to show proof of address to register a child in school, to apply for a job, to vote, to open a new account? It's not for the bank manager to come and meet you at the door. In the modern world, in short, you are your address."-The Address Book Additionally, addresses are needed in order to combat diseases and organize cities. 1A. The book does a great job of showcasing why addresses, specifically address names, are important for other reasons as well; some address names empower people, some aid in revelations, and others tell stories. Cons: 1. The book never provides you with a clear cut conclusion or takeaway for each chapter. 2. The book focuses more so on the stories behind the address/address name rather than the said address/address name itself at least for the last half of the book. 3. The chapter on race is repetitive and often feature similar stories that go in this order. An argument/war breaks out between 2 groups...one group dominates the other group....that dominating group determines street names....other groups get upset and fight back...change happens.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mal Warwick

    So, it turns out that street names and house numbers are a pretty big deal. We’ve only got them because of the troubled and sometimes violent circumstances that brought them into being. In fact, we tend to be ignorant of what addresses really mean. And while those of us who have addresses take them for granted, hundreds of millions of other people encounter endless problems because they lack them. But it’s not easy at all to get an address if you don’t have one—even if you’ve got a home. And tha So, it turns out that street names and house numbers are a pretty big deal. We’ve only got them because of the troubled and sometimes violent circumstances that brought them into being. In fact, we tend to be ignorant of what addresses really mean. And while those of us who have addresses take them for granted, hundreds of millions of other people encounter endless problems because they lack them. But it’s not easy at all to get an address if you don’t have one—even if you’ve got a home. And that’s the entertaining and revealing story Deirdre Mask tells so well in The Address Book. In fewer than three hundred pages of text, Mask explores the history of street addresses through the lens of economic development, politics, race, class, and status. This is popular history viewed from left field, and it’s a pleasure to read. What addresses really mean Addresses are so integral to most of our lives in the world’s towns and cities that we’re oblivious to their importance. But local government officials know better. For example, writes Mask, “in some years, more than 40 percent of all local laws passed by the New York City Council have been street name changes.” And that fact gives just a hint of what addresses really mean. And they mean a lot: In economic development Addresses “are one of the cheapest ways to lift people out of poverty, facilitating access to credit, voting rights, and worldwide markets.” It’s not just the homeless who lack addresses. That’s the case, too, for hundreds of millions of people who live in the world’s townships, barrios, and favelas. “Without an address, it’s nearly impossible to get a bank account. And without a bank account, you can’t save money, borrow money, or receive a state pension.” Mask reports on efforts underway throughout the Global South to address the problem, providing slum-dwellers with addresses using clever new technology. In public health “Addresses made pinpointing disease possible. . . Location and disease are inseparable for epidemiologists.” The COVID pandemic raging today has brought this reality into high relief, as public health officials struggle to track down, trace, and isolate the disease among the homeless in American cities. So, what addresses really mean can mean the difference between life and death. For government services “Addresses aren’t just for emergency services. They also exist so people can find you, police you, tax you.” Which is precisely why addresses came into being in the first place, probably in eighteenth century Europe. And that’s a fascinating tale in its own right—a story Mask tells with considerable skill. Symbolizing social status Mask’s subtitle is “What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power.” And she makes the case adroitly. ** Some researchers have found that American streets named after Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. tend to be found in economically depressed African-American neighborhoods. ** “Around the world,” Mask writes, “revolutionary governments kick off their regimes by changing the street names. Mexico City has more than five hundred streets named after Emiliano Zapata, the leader of its peasant revolution.” And the Soviet Union didn’t just rename the cities (Leningrad, Stalingrad) after its revolutionary leaders, it changed thousands of street names as well. ** “In Croatia, the main street of Vukovar . . . changed names six times in the twentieth century, once with each change of state.” ** And “as Jews disappeared from Germany, they were also disappearing from the street signs.” Incidentally, “numbered streets are a largely American phenomenon. Today, every American city with more than a half million people has numerical street names. (Most have lettered streets, too.)” Which means, of course, with numbers and letters it’s tough to tell what the addresses really might mean. Elsewhere in the world, streets are almost always named—if, in fact, they can be identified at all. (Just try figuring out what’s a street and what isn’t in a teeming Kolkata or Lima slum.) And, by the way, we know that widespread resistance to wearing masks in the current COVID pandemic is not a new thing. The same happened in 1917-20 in the lethal influenza pandemic that killed some fifty to one hundred million people. But there’s a parallel to house numbers, too: when European officials first started painting numbers on houses in the eighteenth century, they caused riots. About the author Deirdre Mask graduated from Harvard College summa cum laude and attended the University of Oxford before returning to Harvard for law school, where she was the editor of the Harvard Law Review. She has taught at Harvard and the London School of Economics. Mask completed a master’s in writing at the National University of Ireland. Her work has been published in numerous leading magazines. She lives with her husband and daughters in London. The Address Book is her first book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Madeline

    This was a really expansive look into how addresses have come to be, and how they impact every aspect of our lives. I really enjoyed Mask's observations and tone—it's very friendly, approachable, and funny at times, making this a joy to read. I especially appreciated her observation about how street names and architecture can be used to impose power over minority groups. It's something I've never thought much about, but once she pointed it out, I realized it was right in front of my eyes this en This was a really expansive look into how addresses have come to be, and how they impact every aspect of our lives. I really enjoyed Mask's observations and tone—it's very friendly, approachable, and funny at times, making this a joy to read. I especially appreciated her observation about how street names and architecture can be used to impose power over minority groups. It's something I've never thought much about, but once she pointed it out, I realized it was right in front of my eyes this entire time. It's such an interesting idea that I would love to learn more about. The discussion of linguistics and how that informs street addresses was fascinating. I've always wanted to learn more about linguistics, and I was excited to approach it in this context—again, something I've never considered before! Mask brought a lot of new ideas to the forefront of my mind, so I really appreciate that. I also enjoyed some of Mask's personal references, as we grew up in the same area, so I knew a lot of the references. It felt very lovely to connect to her story in that way. As others have said, there is more breadth than depth here, which is both good and bad. I enjoyed learning about addresses and their history from all over the world, but I wish the focus was narrowed down to fewer storylines and followed those in greater depth. I also think a lot of Mask's examples prove multiple points (outside of the chapter she used them in), so sometimes later chapters felt a bit repetitive when that idea had previously been touched upon. I also think some of the smaller examples and tangents in chapters were distracting at times, and sometimes felt repetitive. After a central point had been made, Mask sometimes brought in smaller examples to further illustrated what she was talking about. This can be helpful for a more complex argument, but I felt these examples were framed in a way that just made them feel repetitive at times. I especially noticed this in the chapter about Japan and South Korea, where the smaller examples could have been incorporated better into the overall chapter so it felt less like it was just thrown in there for more info. These issues didn't really affect my reading experience too much, and I think this is a GREAT book to read if you're at all interested in the topic. Mask will introduce you to a lot of new knowledge and provide a great jumping off point for further research and thought. I'm excited for whatever she might write next!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten

    [2020] (notes to self…) First interesting fact, page 4: most households in the world don’t have street addresses. I would not have guessed that. One of many really interesting tidbits in this book. Looks at everything from how addresses stopped an epidemic; to how addresses came about and house numbering started; to how an address can affect property value and lift a person out of poverty; to the future of digital addresses. For some, an address is not desirable, they live perfectly contentedly [2020] (notes to self…) First interesting fact, page 4: most households in the world don’t have street addresses. I would not have guessed that. One of many really interesting tidbits in this book. Looks at everything from how addresses stopped an epidemic; to how addresses came about and house numbering started; to how an address can affect property value and lift a person out of poverty; to the future of digital addresses. For some, an address is not desirable, they live perfectly contentedly without one. But for many others, the homeless, people living in the slums in India, not having an address holds them back and deprives them of opportunities and basic rights. This is probably what will stay with me the most.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    After reading the chapters in Deirdre Mask's book describing folks who lack an actual address (and, in many places, this is not limited to the "homeless") I guarantee that you will never take your street address for granted again. Often humorous and chatty, but at times downright disturbing, "The Address Book" is a wide-ranging, deep dive into the history and politics of place naming and the impact it has on our lives. After reading the chapters in Deirdre Mask's book describing folks who lack an actual address (and, in many places, this is not limited to the "homeless") I guarantee that you will never take your street address for granted again. Often humorous and chatty, but at times downright disturbing, "The Address Book" is a wide-ranging, deep dive into the history and politics of place naming and the impact it has on our lives.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Fariba

    Street addresses are something most of us take for granted in this digital age, even though most forms still ask us where we live. For many, street addresses are a privilege. They are markers of wealth and poverty. They are also the first thing employers learn about a job candidate. Before reading The Address Book, I had little considered the significance of my street address. I knew that gentrification was a problem in Cleveland and Philadelphia (especially West Philly) but it never occurred to Street addresses are something most of us take for granted in this digital age, even though most forms still ask us where we live. For many, street addresses are a privilege. They are markers of wealth and poverty. They are also the first thing employers learn about a job candidate. Before reading The Address Book, I had little considered the significance of my street address. I knew that gentrification was a problem in Cleveland and Philadelphia (especially West Philly) but it never occurred to me that employers might discriminate against job candidates based on their street addresses or that people without street addresses might not be able to apply for a job. I didn’t know that there are regions of the United States where homeowners don’t have addresses. In The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power, Deirdre Mask reveals how important street addresses are to our personal, social, and legal identities. Beginning in West Virginia, where hundreds of residents refuse to adopt street addresses, Mask explores the advantages and disadvantages of having a legal and traceable address. If some West Virginians fear the interference of the government in their neighborhoods, Indians living in the slums of Kolkota wish they had traceable addresses so that they could obtain government-issued IDs and register for social services. And then there’s the question of street names. What should communities do about streets named after Nazis or Confederate leaders? How do street names figure in the social visions of revolutionaries and totalitarian regimes? For the past year, I have been living in Geneva, Switzerland, where streets are named after famous figures of Swiss history. There are streets named after Protestant Reformers, scientists, doctors, comic artists, and past mayors. In Paris, where the majority of streets are named after men, feminist activists have informally renamed street signs to better reflect the diversity of French history; the names of famous French women are scribbled over the official names. Each chapter in The Address Book explores a different region of the world – Haiti, India, West Virginia, South Africa, Paris, Philadelphia, New York, Vienna, Germany, Japan, and Iran. Through a series of stories, Mask shows how street addresses and layout reflect the political concerns of those respective regions. She interviews activists who favor the changing of street names or work to give addresses to the homeless. Her writing is dynamic and personal. Mask does not hesitate to share her own personal views on a particular question, but only after she has given voice to the people directly involved in the politics of street addresses. I flew through this book in a few sittings. If you are looking for a book that opens your eyes to the way people live around the world and has a strong voice, look no further than The Address Book. My only criticism is that chapters on a certain region were not always dedicated to that region. Paris, for example, features in several chapters despite those sections being about other nations. Perhaps, there should have been an earlier chapter dedicated to the influence of Paris on street addresses around the world. The Address Book came out on April 14, but I read a review copy requested from NetGalley. —Favorite Passages— “Lots of people claim to want to go off grid forever, to seek out their own version of #vanlife. But the people Sarah interviewed desperately wanted to be on the grid with all that the grid entails: homes, bills, bank accounts – in essence, everything required for modern life.” “We all have the need to confront the past, memorialize it, struggle with it, do something with it. That something often involves street names.”

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rhiannon Johnson

    [I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review] Check out this review (and others) on my blog https://ivoryowlreviews.blogspot.com/... I think we all know that some addresses quickly tell a lot about a person (for example, in the U.S., someone who lives in Beverly Hills brings to mind a different lifestyle than someone who lives in Missoula, Montana) but have you ever thought about the places in the world that don't have addresses, where addresses constantly change, or the futur [I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review] Check out this review (and others) on my blog https://ivoryowlreviews.blogspot.com/... I think we all know that some addresses quickly tell a lot about a person (for example, in the U.S., someone who lives in Beverly Hills brings to mind a different lifestyle than someone who lives in Missoula, Montana) but have you ever thought about the places in the world that don't have addresses, where addresses constantly change, or the future of the address? Deirdre Mask takes a deep dive into how politics, race, class, and status affect how addresses are created, decided upon, and enforced across the globe.⁠ I learned the layered histories behind streets named after Sonny Carson, Bobby Sands, and Martin Luther King, Jr.; the insane addresses that "blind officers" deciphered to get The Royal Mail correctly delivered in the early 1900s; the meaning and creation of the ZIP (zoning improvement plan) code; the Philadelphia (even/odd side of street numbering) system; that Clement C. Moore once owned all of Chelsea, how Japan's writing style is reflected in their city layout/lack of street names; and the political history wrapped up in addresses.⁠ The lack of an address means you can't vote, receive deliveries, and emergency medical workers will likely not find you. Not having an address is also a major obstacle for people trying to rise from poverty and homelessness (they cannot provide an address on job applications, receive notifications for particular health/employment opportunities/appointments that are only sent via mail, and they cannot open a bank account).⁠ There are also some great sections about "less than glamorous" street names that made me think about the Gilmore Girls episode when the town wanted to change all the streets back to their original names. (It's also the Birkin bag and dollhouse delivery episode). Does anyone remember that one?⁠

  28. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    i liked this! i think i vibe more with nonfiction with more depth and less breadth — there’s SO MUCH breadth here — but still i learned a lot and largely enjoyed myself

  29. 5 out of 5

    Becks

    I really enjoyed that this book focused on a range of places. The chapter on Japan & Korea was a personal favorite. I talk more about it in my BookTube Prize Octafinals wrap up: https://youtu.be/CUjneJmujEc I really enjoyed that this book focused on a range of places. The chapter on Japan & Korea was a personal favorite. I talk more about it in my BookTube Prize Octafinals wrap up: https://youtu.be/CUjneJmujEc

  30. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Thoughtful and entertaining book about street names and addresses of all things, and how much they mean, and what they say about us. Mask is a fine writer with a deft sense of humor and also with an inquisitive perspective on moral and political issues. Wide ranging book, both in place and time. I’m also delighted that she mentions Seeing Like a State by James C Scott several times - another book I liked. I discovered this book from a NYT book review by Sarah Vowell - another good writer. https:/ Thoughtful and entertaining book about street names and addresses of all things, and how much they mean, and what they say about us. Mask is a fine writer with a deft sense of humor and also with an inquisitive perspective on moral and political issues. Wide ranging book, both in place and time. I’m also delighted that she mentions Seeing Like a State by James C Scott several times - another book I liked. I discovered this book from a NYT book review by Sarah Vowell - another good writer. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/14/bo...

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