26 books to read this summer


The Address Book: What Mailing Addresses Tell About Identity, Race, Wealth and Power by Deirdre Mask (2020)  Recommended by Professor Bill Pritchard, Geographer and School Principal, Geosciences

Before reading this book, I never thought to ask myself why addresses exist. But in this book, Deirdre Mask tells the story of the birth of addresses. Not to spoil the saga too much, but it was at the same time the extension of the State (no taxation without means of sending the tax bills), the social rise (an address can bring cachet) and navigation (that place where the bakers are we should call Baker Street). At different times in history, the imposition of postal addresses has been accompanied by riots, with citizens seeing them as an infringement of their freedoms. But in the last chapters of this book, Mask steps forward to the present and asks what it is like not to have an address. In Calcutta’s slums and New York’s homeless sidewalks, not having an address means not being able to access social services. And in the woods of West Virginia, not having an address was considered a libertarian badge of honor until people found out they couldn’t get Amazon deliveries. It is a great geographical journey through the most commonplace things.


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