Books

This is a resource page full of my favorite books. (non-affiliate links)

Most of these I’ve read at least twice and many of them I’ve read multiple times over.

These are all in my physical collection and some of them are pretty beat. But who doesn’t love a well-worn book?

Many of them are house-related but I’ve included some other oddballs too. Enjoy.

Books on Houses, Design, or Real Estate

Handmade Houses by Richard Olsen. Only available used. I give more details here.

A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander, et al.

I was first introduced to this book through one of my favorite house tours, here. Eye-opening, information-dense, thick but very readable.

A Field Guide to American Houses by Virginia and Lee McAlester

This one is a favorite if you’re wanting to learn more about different architectural styles and eras. Lots of information and lots of photo examples. There is a newer updated edition, but I don’t have that one yet.

Bibliostyle by Nina Freudenberger- A must for any book lover/writer/collector who also loves houses and design

Styled by Emily Henderson- Pretty but also a good book if you need advice for table-top styling and staging.

Living with Color by Rebecca Atwood- This one is mostly about color but she includes a bit on pattern too; includes pretty pictures; color without maximalism

Holistic Spaces by Anjie Choe- Feng shui principles but also covers things like material use for the senses and soul… woo-woo meets organic nut. I like it.

Green from the Ground Up by David Johnston and Scott Gibson- For anyone who wants to learn more about building green as a whole

Prescriptions for a Healthy House– because not all green building is healthy building. This book gets into the difference.

Get Your House Right by Marianne Cusato, et al.- If you ever wonder why McMansions just don’t seem to work, this book is for you. She explores new-construction design issues.

The Not So Big House by Sarah Susanka- Don’t confuse not-so-big with small. 2500 is plenty of square footage for most and this book talks about why. For anyone excited by layouts, floorplans, and organization. This one’s got a cult following for good reason.

A Home for the Soul by Anthony Lawlor- Great book on consciously creating your home with intention. I stumbled upon a used copy of this book only to later realize that my old neighbor was the photographer! I double-checked. Small-world moment, for sure.

The Meaning of Trees by Fred Hagender- A book for anyone who loves trees as much as I do. Just after we bought our first investment property (partly for the trees!), one of our tenants passed away and left this book behind. Her family didn’t want it and let me keep it. Thanks Helen, you’ll be missed <3 Cheers to our shared love of trees- covers botany, history, healing, and lore.

Indestructible House Plant by Tovah Martin- For anyone wanting to start collecting house plants. Includes both well-known and lesser-known varieties

House of Moffitt by Richard DeGowin- A book about hombuilding in Iowa City after the Great Depression and WWII. In the future I’ll do a post covering more, including photos of present-day Moffittt homes. For anyone interested in affordable housing from a new (old) perspective.

Hundertwasser, a Taschen book by Harry Rand; only available used; likely out of print- I’m not sure if they made this in English but my version is 100 percent French, strangely making it even more appealing (I don’t speak French but I can read a little from my high school days). An absolutely fascinating book about the artist-architect, Friedensreich Hundertwasser.

Managing Rental Properties by Heather and Brandon Turner from The Bigger Pockets Podcast- All about your rental property and tenants.

The Big Short by Michael Lewis- All about the mortgage crisis of 2008 and what led up to it. Most anything written by Michael Lewis is gonna be good.

Bubble in the Sun by Christopher Knowlton- How the housing and real estate boom in 1920s Florida brought on the Great Depression

The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel- Not really about housing but an incredible story about a hermit and where he set up house

Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug- Got this one at a library sale and while it isn’t a book about housing or real estate, it’s about user experience and some of the principles can (and should) be applied to homebuilding. Because you shouldn’t have to think about where the light switch is….

Other books I own and love:

Cats, a book written by children, ed. Richard and Helen Exley- This is the best weirdest book I’ve ever stumbled upon. Out of print; available used. Buy it if you can find it.

Tools of Titans by Timothy Ferriss– This is one of my favorite advice books ever. Almost a whopping 700 pages, the greatest of greats offer up advice on health, wealth, and wisdom. There’s something here for everyone. Thanks, Tim. It’s a favorite way to procrastinate. If you like the book, definitely check out his podcast of 700+ interviews with a lot of the same folks featured in his book.

The Almanack of Naval Ravikant compiled by Eric Jorgenson

Anything You Want by Derek Sivers

Both of these books were discovered through Tim Ferriss. He has recommended other things from my list too… no wonder I like his podcast.

Don’t Tell Me I Can’t by Cole Summers- Cole’s real name was Kevin Cooper and if anyone was gonna save this world, it was him. Tragically, he passed away at the age of 14. I first read about his extraordinary story here. Buy the book if you can, I’m sure proceeds go to his family now (I hope)

The Thrill of the Chase by Forrest Fenn- I am a sucker for most treasure hunting books/movies. This one takes the cake. Why? Because Forrest Fenn, a rich antique/artifact collector, thought that people needed to get outside and have an adventure. So he filled a little treasure chest with jewels and gold and hid it somewhere in the mountains, north of Santa Fe. Then he wrote a poem, hidden within the pages of this memoir. And that poem was the map to the real-life treasure. It took years, but in 2020 someone finally found it. Forrest confirmed the find just before he died of cancer. The story is incredible and could/should be made into a film. I vote for a dramatized version, based on true events. The whole thing was very controversial but whatever. Great story.

The Midwest: God’s Gift to Planet Earth!; a Raygun book- The best book on the Midwest in the entire universe.

On Writing by Stephen King- Self explanatory.

A Guide to the Good Life by William B. Irvine- I learned about this one from the Mr. Money Mustache blog. It resonated with me so much I told a friend it was like I just discovered my religion.

Eight Brief Lessons on Life by T. Byrum Karasu- I had the pleasure of working on this book. It’s a guidepost for existence, being, and the art of life.

The Little Prince/Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry- An amazing book that everyone should read at least once. Beautiful.

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse- A spiritual journey and quest for the meaning of life.

Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch- My friend’s mom gave me this book when I was a senior in high school. A man writes to God, and to his surprise, God writes back. You’ll probably either love this one or hate it. I loved it, even if it’s woo woo.

Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clark- This utopian/dystopian novel with religious undertones begins with an alien invasion… Who are the Overlords?

The Giver by Lois Lowry- What might life look like when everything is fair, peaceful, and free of sadness?

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle- A story through space and time; good and evil.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens- Beautiful, romantic, heartbreaking story about an orphan named Pip in Victorian England.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen- early 1800s British Romance; a story about love, class, and social expectations.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett- After the partition of India, an orphan girl goes to live at her distant uncle’s British estate. Great read for late winter/early spring. Uplifting with some good life nuggets (hysterics bring misery).

Classic Haiku: The Greatest Japanese Poetry From Bashoand more. I can’t pretend to be well-versed in Haiku but this book is beautiful.

Opening the Dragon Gate: The Making of a Modern Taoist Wizard – Unusual, magical, spiritual biography about Wang Liping’s apprenticeship with three mystical Taoist wizards. How much of this is real? I don’t know.

Unusual children’s books you maybe haven’t heard of or have forgotten:

Orangutanka by Margarita Engle- My kids loved this book. Maybe it’s the way I read it, I don’t know.

Animalia by Graeme Base- So fun, so silly. Imaginative

Creekfinding by Jacqueline Briggs Martin- A true story about a man who brings a forgotten creek back to his farm. For nature lovers

The Pierre The Maze Detective Books: For artwork that can take you away, lose yourself in The Search for the Stolen Maze Stone Or The Curious Case of the Castle in the Sky.