- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Marlowe & Company; 3rd edition (August 18, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1569246815
- ISBN-13: 978-1569246818
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,578 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons, and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community 3rd Edition
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The Great Good Place has put into words and focus what I've been doing all my life, from the barbershop I remember as a child to the bookstore I now own. My goal at Horizon Books is to provide that third place in which people can "hang out." Ray Oldenburg has defined those good places while still recognizing the magical chemistry they require. The Great Good Place is a book to read, to recommend, and to quote. -- Victor W. Herman, owner of Horizon Books, with locations in Traverse City, Petoskey, and Cadillac, Michigan
A book that should be read by everyone in North America over the age of 16 -- The World of Beer
A day doesn't go by that I don't refer to Ray Oldenburg's The Great Good Place. At a time when all great, good independent bookstores everywhere are under siege, we're fortunate that Mr. Oldenburg has articulated our message so clearly. -- Mitchell Kaplan, owner of Books & Books, Miami, Florida
Examines gathering places and reminds us how important they are. People need the 'third place' to nourish sociability. -- Parade
Oldenburg believes that the powerful need in humans to associate with one another will inevitably lead to the revival of places where, as the theme song to the TV show Cheers so aptly put it, 'everyone knows your name.' We'll drink to that. -- Booklist
Ray Oldenburg is inspirational. He is the first to recognize and articulate the importance of the greeting place (third place) for the well-being of the individual and society at large. -- Ron Sher, President, Terranomics Development and founder of Third Place Books, Seattle, Wash.
The great value of this book is that Mr. Oldenburg has given us an insightful and extremely useful new lens through which to look at a familiar problem. -- New York Times Book Review
This wonderful and utterly important book verifies our need for fun through conversation in "great good places." Oldenburg writes passionately of our country's current and urgent problems resulting from our ever-increasing social isolation and provides us with a very simple solution. America must read and react to this rational common-sense solution to salving our stressed lives. And our government needs to promote, permit, and zone responsible neighborhood hospitality, recognizing the value of "a vital informal life." -- Lynne Breaux, owner, Tunnicliff's Tavern, Washington, D.C.
Well-written, informative, and often entertaining. -- Newark Star-Ledger
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Top Customer Reviews
As we move towards a "private property society" and focus on "property rights" as we seem to understand them, the ability to be social, without prior planning, is slowly eroding. Simultaneously, the places to "hang out" are disappearing as a consumer driven market seems desirous of generating the most profit for the fewest people (corporations). Because of a desire for inexpensive goods, a local business, owned and operated by nearby residents, is next to impossible - especially in the face of the mass market competition from large corporations.
I think Oldenburg hits the nail squarely on the head. As I drive around (in a car-based economy), it's increasingly difficult to find a place to "hang out" and/or become a regular. (1) Restaurants are driven towards specific time limit for customers in hopes of turning a larger profit by serving more customers; (2) American bars are not conducive because service deteriorates if you choose not to imbibe and those that also serve food follow (1); and (3) the notion of coffee shops not driven by 1 or 2 are few and far between. Even assuming that there are such places of the "third place" variety, it more often than not requires a car to get there (not to mention paying to simply park near a place).
Anyone interested in property rights, humans as a social animal, and the notion of a "community," should read this book.
Oldenburg does a good job building his case. He looks at characteristics and benefits of third places and then chooses examples from history and other cultures to illustrate the ideas.
A friend of mine remarked that The Great Good Place was one good idea repeated over and over again for 300 page. Not entirely fair, but there is some truth to it. The book also suffers from being oversold. For instance, the publisher's subtitle implies that hair salons are part of the topics that are covered. In fact, they are barely even mentioned. I suppose that the publicity that this relatively academic text made it nearly irrestistible for the publishing house to try to spice things up for the average reader.
Honestly, three stars might be the most fair rating for the book. In addition to what feels like some occasionally thin material, I feel that the author elides or ignores the potential negatives of his third places. All the same, I ended up rating it four stars because I generally agreed with his ideas. That agreement made me predisposed to enjoy it. So for me, the fourth star is because I found it pleasant to read.
Recommended for people with an interest in the social value of public spaces.
There are no substantive mentions of hair salons or bookstores in this work. I'm not sure how they slipped into the title.
On the whole, this work raises interesting questions about the decline of public life and public space in American culture. Oldenburg throws a number of darts at the suburbs and poor urban planning, but seems to spend more time lamenting the lost innocence of small-town America than thinking about the future and how things could be turned around. There's a lot of thought-provoking material here, and I think this work represents a good jumping-off point for further consideration and research.
I first had the pleasure of meeting Ray when I was editor of _The World of Beer_ out of Milan, Italy, when Alan Eames ("The Beer King"), who damned well lived in a small town - 300 - in New Hampshire, recommend the book to me. After reading a copy I made a point to meet Ray upon my next trip back to the United States.
Ray is indeed from small town America. He began his teaching career in Round Rock, Texas, back when the population was about 2,500. Today he makes his home near Pensacola, Florida. And has lived in a succession of small towns.
Ray's premise is that CITIES in America have lost their third places and we're the worse off for it.
Fabulous book, interesting man.....
US Navy, retired