Most architects tend to collect books, at least all the ones I know I do. Some are fanatical about their books, me – not so much. Since I moved into a smaller house, I don’t have the space to dedicate to book display and I don’t have the need to scream out to people “I read books!”. It’s possible that the architects that do dedicate considerable space to their book collection are owners of books that could only be described as “rare and precious” but somehow I don’t think that’s really the case.
Once I read a book, I tend to get rid of it unless it falls into one of a few specific categories (decided at the moment I need to find space to put it):
I’m going to read it again
I will reference it again
It has pretty pictures
I will give it to my daughter
It is rare and/ or precious
It symbolizes some important time in my life and is a direct link to that period
That’s about it. I am sure that most people, architects or not, have a similar approach to the books they have. Since I started this blog, I have received several emails about the books I have, what I read, what should someone else read if they want to be an architect, etc. I personally think it’s a bizarre question, like wondering what someones taste in art is…(I like good art by the way). I have books on my shelf that suck, or I didn’t buy, and if you were one of those “book people detectives” and snuck into my home to figure me out by looking at my stuff, you wouldn’t know if those books were mine, my father’s, or my wife’s. With that all out of the way, here is a shot of the built-in bookcase in my study. There is another matching built-in on the other side of the room but I think you’ll get the picture.
These are the books that are at the top of the bookcase because these are mostly the books that fall into the rare and precious category. Some of these books I took from my Dad when he was going to chuck them out and I remember them from my childhood. I looked a few up last year to discover that some are worth a lot of money – not that I plan on selling them. The highlights are:
- The Second World War series by Winston S. Churchill
- John Adams volumes I and II by Page Smith
- The Story of Civilization series by Will and Ariel Durant
- Architect series by Taschen
On Rows 3 and 4, things start getting a little hairy and difficult to categorize. There are books that my daughter loves that get pulled off the shelf with regularity there are some others here that I simply do not know what to do with them. The highlights (for me, not my daughter) include:
- InDetail: Building Simply
- InDetail: Single Family Houses
- Experiencing Architecture by Steen Eiler Rasmussen
- The Architecture of Michelangelo by James S. Ackerman
- Dominion – The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy by Matthew Scully
- The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes
- Kindergarten Chats and other Writings by Louis H. Sullivan
- The Age of Augustus by Werner Eck
The bottom two rows are mostly my architecture books. There are a lot of reference types books here as well as pretty picture books. Since so much o f this information is available on the Internet, unless the book has drawings and details in it, I have stopped buying most of these types of books. It’s not that I don’t like them I just can’t justify the expense associated with glossy coffee table books.
- Case Study Houses by Elizabeth A.T. Smith and Julius Shulman
- Breuer Houses by Joachim Driller
- For an Architecture of Reality by Michael Benedikt
- Complicity and Conviction: Steps toward an Architecture of Convention by William Hubbard
- The Art of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back edited by Deborah Call, text by Vic Bulluck and Valerie Hoffman
The resolution of the pictures I inserted here should be high enough for you to click one and zoom in to get the title and author. If you want something and can’t make it out, send me an email and I’ll get back to you. You will find some books here that are really good but I didn’t single them out – that’s probably because I am lazy and don’t want to spend any more time on this post. I have really been enjoying autobiographies the last few years and most of my non-fiction falls into that category.