Infrastructure: A Field Guide to the Industrial Landscape by Brian Hayes, 5/5
I haven’t experienced many books that I would call “life-changing,” but this astounding work is certainly one of the few. Inexplicably, Hayes is able to take a topic that seems, at best, slightly off-putting, and turn it into 500 pages of some of the most engrossing reading material I have ever encountered. Covering everything from power plants to mining, his addictive prose entices the reader from fact to fact until it is difficult to even imagine a mindset in which a laden telephone pole does not seem a thing of beauty and a steel mill a thing of wonder. What could have been the world’s most boring textbook seems instead a labour of love and curiosity, radiating passion and good humour while communicating a staggering amount of information about the inner (and outer) workings of industry. Even the numerous photos (taken by the author) are noteworthy for their high quality and artistic composition.
So why did I find this book to be life-changing? In part, because it made me realise that there is no topic either dry or boring, but writing makes it so. This opens up worlds – no longer do I need worry about finding interesting topics, I only need to find interesting authors. Secondly, this book opened my eyes to the appeal of industrial structures and the beauty of their functionality. What was once unsightly (or at least, unseen), such as cell towers, water treatment plants, power substations, overpasses, etc. has a new fascination for me.
It’s certainly not like me to drool praise so lavishly, but there is no denying that Infrastructure transcends my measly five-point rating system and, if there was a higher score than “perfect,” would surely deserve it.
[Why I read it: it caught my eye as I wandered through the library.]