Technically, the first rest areas weren’t known as such at all. They were called “roadside parks” or “waysides”. The transition to a new term didn’t occur until planning began for construction of America’s interstate highway system in the late 1950’s. Even then, such off-road refuges were officially designated Safety Rest Areas.
As the term implies, Safety Rest Areas (SRAs) were included along the interstates as much to offer motorists a safe place to pull off the road in the event of emergencies or mechanical issues as they were to offer road-weary travelers a place to enjoy picnic lunches and use the toilet.
So, inspired by my enjoyment of Steve Jobs, I am making a New Year’s resolution to embrace the unexpected book; to make an effort to read things I have never heard of, on subjects I know nothing about. If 2016 was able to introduce me to the book that would finally allow me to forgive Steve Jobs for the iPod Mini, I’m looking forward to seeing how my mind will be changed by the unexpected books of 2017.
Too often, according to Mark Seidenberg’s important, alarming new book, “Language at the Speed of Sight,” Johnny can’t read because schools of education didn’t give Johnny’s teachers the proper tools to show him how. Economic inequality is a big problem, too, of course, but kindergartners may be grandparents before that can be redressed. Mr. Seidenberg, a veteran cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, makes a strong case for how brain science can help the teaching profession in the meantime.
As 2016, this year of upheavals, draws to a close, “Waves of anger and fear/ Circulate over the bright/ And darkened lands of the earth,/ Obsessing our private lives” (W.H. Auden). For many people, even this season of Christmas and New Year’s lacks some of its usual joy and sparkle. What better time, then, for a collection titled “Fairy Tales for the Disillusioned”?