Books – 2013

I love to read, lets just get that out of the way from the start. I’ve actually given away more books than are currently in my collection, of which my wife will tell you there are too many. The subjects of what I like to spend my time reading are wide and varied. I enjoy any good story, really. Hell, sometimes the writing doesn’t even have to be that good as long as the story keeps moving forward. I read everything from historical fiction to biographies to sic-fi, fantasy, romance (don’t judge), mysteries and fiction. So, here is a little snap shot of what I’m reading this year (note: some of these are left over from last year).

1. The Bible. I’ve always been a person of faith with a strong desire to live righteously. But I admit I have never actually read the Bible through. So, this year I’m gonna do it at least once. Honestly it should be on everyone’s to-do list, right?

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2. Down Detour Road – An Architect in Search of Practice by Eric J. Cesal. This is one of those books that you just HAVE to read if you’re an architect. I’m only a few pages in to it, so I’ll just give you the publisher’s notes: “What does it say about the value of architecture that as the world faces economic and ecological crises, unprecedented numbers of architects are out of work? This is the question that confronted architect Eric Cesal as he finished graduate school at the onset of the worst financial meltdown in a generation. Down Detour Road is his journey: one that begins off-course, and ends in a hopeful new vision of architecture. Like many architects of his generation, Cesal confronts a cold reality. Architects may assure each other of their own importance, but society has come to view architecture as a luxury it can do without. For Cesal, this recognition becomes an occasion to rethink architecture and its value from the very core. He argues that the times demand a new architecture, an empowered architecture that is useful and relevant. New architectural values emerge as our cultural values shift: from high risks to safe bets, from strong portfolios to strong communities, and from clean lines to clean energy.This is not a book about how to run a firm or a profession; it doesn’t predict the future of architectural form or aesthetics. It is a personal story–and in many ways a generational one: a story that follows its author on a winding detour across the country, around the profession, and into a new architectural reality.”

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3. Makeshift Metropolis by Witold Rybczynski. I haven’t started this book yet because it’s about 3 deep on my “to-read” list and I can only typically read 2 or 3 books at once if I want to keep track of where I’m at in any of them, but I’ve always wanted to read his books. So, again, from the publisher: “Makeshift Metropolis describes how current ideas about urban planning evolved from the movements that defined the twentieth century, such as City Beautiful, the Garden City, and the seminal ideas of Frank Lloyd Wright and Jane Jacobs. If the twentieth century was the age of planning, we now find ourselves in the age of the market, Rybczynski argues, where entrepreneurial developers are shaping the twenty-first-century city with mixed-use developments, downtown living, heterogeneity, density, and liveliness. He introduces readers to projects like Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Yards in Washington, D.C., and, further afield, to the new city of Modi’in, Israel—sites that, in this age of resource scarcity, economic turmoil, and changing human demands, challenge our notion of the city.”

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4. Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey by The Countess Carnarvon. This is the life tale of Lady Almina and Lord Carnarvon, the inspiration for the BBC Series Downton Abbey that I know you’ve seen on PBS. It’s an incredibly interesting story of how they met, married and the life they lived afterwards. I’m only about a quarter through, but the historical significance of this couple and the times they lived in are amazing. I highly recommend the book if you’re at all interested in early 20th century history.

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5. Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Everyone loves Tarzan. I first read The Jewels of Opar when I was about 9 or 10 and the writing has stayed with me ever since. Now I’m reading the series to my children before bed and we’re starting at the beginning.

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As I said, just a snap shot. There are more. In fact I have a stack on my bedside table about 10 inches tall of books in various stages of dog-eared-ness. As this post piggy-backs on a recent post by Lee Calisti of his 2012 books, I’d love to hear your suggestions for other books to add to my list. All suggestions are welcomed on any range of topics. So, hit me!

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