100 books like Alvar Aalto

By Goran Schildt,

Here are 100 books that Alvar Aalto fans have personally recommended if you like Alvar Aalto. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Concise Townscape

Rasmus Wærn Author Of What is Architecture? And 100 Other Questions

From my list on what architecture is about.

Why am I passionate about this?

My lifelong search for how contemporary architecture can be as loved and graceful as the buildings and environments of our heritage have made me create numerous books, lectures, and films on matters I find crucial. But every new text seems to create more questions than answers. Perhaps it is better to build the talk? Architecture has dimensions, such as time, that make the reading richer than most books. But that brings you back to interpretation. It seems as books and buildings will be impossible to separate. At least for me.

Rasmus' book list on what architecture is about

Rasmus Wærn Why did Rasmus love this book?

Townscape is more than a book on how good cities are shaped. It is a book that describes generic qualities of space.

Cullens's way of understanding and analyzing urban structures with pen and paper has much to tell future architects. That the book has been around for more than sixty years is a compelling evidence of its outstanding capacity to educate generation after generation on how to create richness and avoid chaos.

Urban planners of today have much to learn from Cullen’s simple, but efficient, drawings and captions. 

By Gordon Cullen,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Concise Townscape as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book pioneered the concept of townscape. 'Townscape' is the art of giving visual coherence and organization to the jumble of buildings, streets and space that make up the urban environment. It has been a major influence on architects, planners and others concerned with what cities should look like.


Book cover of Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture

Richard Weston Author Of 100 Ideas that Changed Architecture

From my list on that formed my understanding of architecture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by architecture and landscape architecture since discovering the work of Le Corbusier at the age of sixteen. Most of my life has been spent teaching and writing about it - fifteen books and numerous articles - with occasional forays into designing and building. I took early retirement as a Professor of  Architecture in 2013, the year after enjoying ‘Fifteen Minutes of Fame’ on a BBC TV series featuring the development of my ‘mineral scarves’ for Liberty of London. This led to a creative app and website for children called Molly’s World (to be launched in 2024) and on my seventieth birthday in 2023 I launched an architectural and garden design studio.

Richard's book list on that formed my understanding of architecture

Richard Weston Why did Richard love this book?

I was introduced to this at the end of my first year as an architecture student and it introduced me to looking at history through a designer’s eyes.

The original and best edition was in a small format, packed with postage-stamp-sized illustrations. Venturi’s target was the reductive, less-is-more strand of Modern architecture. ‘Less is a bore’, Venturi declared, and he opened my eyes to Mannerism and the Baroque and offered new insights into modern masters such as Aalto and Le Corbusier. 

Book cover of Building: 3,000 Years of Design, Engineering, and Construction

Rasmus Wærn Author Of What is Architecture? And 100 Other Questions

From my list on what architecture is about.

Why am I passionate about this?

My lifelong search for how contemporary architecture can be as loved and graceful as the buildings and environments of our heritage have made me create numerous books, lectures, and films on matters I find crucial. But every new text seems to create more questions than answers. Perhaps it is better to build the talk? Architecture has dimensions, such as time, that make the reading richer than most books. But that brings you back to interpretation. It seems as books and buildings will be impossible to separate. At least for me.

Rasmus' book list on what architecture is about

Rasmus Wærn Why did Rasmus love this book?

To read about the long, long history of creating solid, sun-lit, comfortable, and sound houses and homes is truly inspiring.

I keep going back to Bill Addis bible again and again as I look for understanding of how the inventiveness of humankind have evolved the world we live in. To read about the symbiosis between material and matter is not only joyful; it is also a source of inspiration as we today have to re-invent many of the un-sustainable solutions we rely on.

By Bill Addis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Building as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of In The Scheme Of Things: Alternative Thinking on the Practice of Architecture

Rasmus Wærn Author Of What is Architecture? And 100 Other Questions

From my list on what architecture is about.

Why am I passionate about this?

My lifelong search for how contemporary architecture can be as loved and graceful as the buildings and environments of our heritage have made me create numerous books, lectures, and films on matters I find crucial. But every new text seems to create more questions than answers. Perhaps it is better to build the talk? Architecture has dimensions, such as time, that make the reading richer than most books. But that brings you back to interpretation. It seems as books and buildings will be impossible to separate. At least for me.

Rasmus' book list on what architecture is about

Rasmus Wærn Why did Rasmus love this book?

Sometimes the best books are not the ones that make you take notes, but the ones that make you think new thoughts.

Fisher’s book is one of these thought-provoking pamphlets where the best moments of reading are when you let the book rest on your lap and reflect upon how his thoughts on practicing architecture can reflect on your own work. This happens to me as I read about the revival of the language of brick and mortar.

By Thomas R. Fisher,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In The Scheme Of Things as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of The Iconic Interior: 1900 to the Present

Stephanie Travis Author Of Sketching for Architecture + Interior Design: A Practical Guide on Sketching for Architecture and Interior Design Students

From my list on introducing architecture and interior design to everyone.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a design-obsessed George Washington University (Washington, DC) professor, author, architect, interior designer, sketcher, modernist, city lover, traveler, and University of Michigan alumni who writes about topics on architecture and interior design for people of all ages and backgrounds. Everyone lives in the built environment, but not everyone understands it. For example, sketching is one of the best ways to understand a piece of furniture, interior, or building. You will never see the object the same way after you draw it! All of the books on this list are approachable, interesting, fun, and most importantly inspiring. Enjoy!

Stephanie's book list on introducing architecture and interior design to everyone

Stephanie Travis Why did Stephanie love this book?

This stunning book features 100 inspiring interiors across the globe, and is a great resource to get to know some of the world’s best designers. There is just enough text to provide an understanding of the history, concepts, and ideas behind each project, while the core focus is on the photography of rooms and details. Quite simply, you may want to study interior design after reading this book cover to cover.

By Dominic Bradbury, Richard Powers (photographer),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Iconic Interior as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This compact volume features over 100 of the most spectacular interiors from across the world, spanning the entire 20th century to the present day. It includes interiors assembled by artists and fashion designers, architects, interior and set-designers, bringing together diverse design talents from Piero Fornasetti to Alvar Aalto, Marc Newson and Matthew Williamson. Twenty short profiles are presented in the introduction, with a single iconic photograph and a concise, informative text; the interiors are arranged by chronological order, with superb colour photography and texts recounting the stories of these remarkable designs. Representing every style from minimalism and Art Nouveau to…


Book cover of Le Corbusier: An Analysis of Form

Antony Radford Author Of The Elements of Modern Architecture: Understanding Contemporary Buildings

From my list on analysing architecture.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion as a teacher and writer is to help students and others interpret, understand and enjoy architecture and the built environment, and to help them respond in their own designs to the complexities of place, people, and construction. I have chosen five well-established books on analysing architecture that are highly illustrated, avoid jargon, can be explored rather than needing to be read sequentially cover-to-cover, and have lasting value. They offer guidance for beginning students and a checklist for the experienced. They are books to be kept handy and repeatedly consulted. Of course, analysing existing architecture is invaluable in designing new architecture. I hope you enjoy them.

Antony's book list on analysing architecture

Antony Radford Why did Antony love this book?

I remember Geoffrey Baker’s lectures about space, movement, and light in Le Corbusier's buildings from my own student days.

His infectious enthusiasm is captured in his book, with his own clear sketches and diagrams.

Baker’s analysis has been a lasting influence on my own work, encouraging me to experience moving around and through architecture, and where this is not possible to imagine that experience from drawings and photographs.

Check out Baker’s Design Strategies in Architecture: An Approach to the Analysis of Form, too.

By Geoffrey Baker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Le Corbusier as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This unique appraisal of the famous Swiss architect's major works have now been expanded to include two more buildings. The Villa Shodhan and the Pavilion Suisse round out the coverage of Le Corbusier's significant works. The author critically examines Le Corbusier's achievements helping student and professional alike to appreciate the elements of successful design. The narrative and fine illustration cover the key buildings from each of the four developmental stages of his work, making it an excellent guide for practicing architects and students.


Book cover of Notes from an Island

Irfan Shah Author Of Where Lay My Homeward Path: Selected Short Stories by Edward Thomas

From my list on nature-writing with humans at the center.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer and researcher from North Yorkshire, England. Although I’ve written extensively on pre-cinema history (for example, I co-wrote the BAFTA long-listed documentary, The First Film) I have also researched little-known stories connected with the natural world, particularly the beautiful Yorkshire Moors, where I live. My upcoming travelogue The Witches’ Way will combine nature-writing with original historical research, and will be published by Open Space Books in the Autumn. I have long been an admirer of the poetry of Edward Thomas – bringing his long-forgotten fiction to a new audience has been a real passion project of mine.

Irfan's book list on nature-writing with humans at the center

Irfan Shah Why did Irfan love this book?

Tove Jansson was one of my favourite authors as a child, thanks to her magical Moomin series.

Her fiction for adults, too (The Summer Book, Art in Nature) is wonderful. However, I have gone for one of her lesser-known books, Notes from an Island, which is simply a short journal with brief and starkly beautiful diary entries concerning the times she spent with her partner, Tuulikki Pietilä, on a barren and otherwise uninhabited island in the Gulf of Finland.

The book is a collaboration - Pietilä supplied stark, minimalist illustrations - and it also includes sections of a journal contributed by Brunström, the gruff mariner who helped the couple with their trips to and from the island.

Jansson’s writing style is as sparse as the island itself, reflecting the tough conditions, which nevertheless, did not preclude a life of artistic fulfillment for both her and Pietilä. This…

By Tove Jansson, Tuulikki Pietila, Thomas Teal (translator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Notes from an Island as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the bitter winds of autumn 1963, Tove Jansson, helped by Brunstroem, a maverick fisherman, raced to build a cabin on a treeless skerry in the Gulf of Finland. The island was Klovharun, and for thirty summers Tove and her beloved partner, the graphic artist, Tuulikki Pietila, retreated there to live, paint and write, energised by the solitude and shifting seascapes.

Notes from an Island, published in English for the first time, is both a chronicle of this period and a homage to the mature love that Tove and 'Tooti' shared for their island and for each other. Tove's spare…


Book cover of The Winter War: Russia Against Finland

Väinö Mononen Author Of The Lost Russian Ski Brigade: A hard fate in the Finnish Winter War

From my list on winter warfare in Arctic conditions.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in 1957 in Finland. I completed my military service in the Kainuu Brigade, graduating as a reserve officer. Later, I worked in the field of voluntary national defense as a spokesperson and editor-in-chief of a reservist magazine, and participated in numerous refresher exercises around the North Karelia region. I also wandered a lot in the wilderness of Kainuu, where my father lived. I was attracted by the peace of nature, and all my free time with my wife was spent in the wilderness in our own hideaway. As I walked the terrain, I couldn't help but notice the scars of the Winter War. Soon, I became seriously interested in past events.

Väinö's book list on winter warfare in Arctic conditions

Väinö Mononen Why did Väinö love this book?

This book is an excellent description of the harsh events of the Winter War, which still touch us today.

A war always needs at least two sides; in this case, the attacking side was the Russians and the Finns were defending their own country. The Soviet Union initially wanted to seize the buffer zone only to protect Leningrad, but the war soon expanded to occupy the whole of Finland. The Finns did not agree with the Russians at all and fought tenaciously for their independence and neutrality.

I warmly recommend that all readers familiarize themselves with the book's content, which presents the actions and traditional life values of both warring parties in a completely new light.

By Richard Condon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Winter War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Excellent Book


Book cover of The Winter War: The Soviet Attack on Finland, 1939-1940

William Durbin Author Of The Winter War: A Novel

From my list on the Russian-Finnish Winter War, 1939-1940.

Why am I passionate about this?

As the author of four novels based on Finnish culture and history, I admire and respect the Finns for many qualities, including their intelligence, their strength and endurance, and their understated sense of humor. But the quality that impresses me most is what the Finns call sisu, which roughly translates to an ability to show stoic courage and tenacity in the face of adversity. The Finnish resistance to Stalin during the 105 days of the Winter War was a classic demonstration of that national trait. While researching this book, I had the privilege of interviewing five Finnish veterans, all of whom exemplified sisu while serving during the Winter War.

William's book list on the Russian-Finnish Winter War, 1939-1940

William Durbin Why did William love this book?

The Soviet invasion of Finland remains one of the lesser-known but critically important events in the lead up to World War II. This book, co-authored by two Finns who have an intimate knowledge of both the Finnish people and the war, recounts all of the major battles in vivid detail. And it shows, how against all odds, the skills and the fortitude of the Finns allowed them to resist the Russian advances through an incredibly cold winter. While Russia lost close to 500,000 soldiers (Nikita Khrushchev, former Premier of the USSR, claims it was a million) there were only 25,000 casualties on the Finnish side.

By Eloise Engle, Lauri Paananen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Winter War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book is a brief but very interesting illustration of the Winter War between Russia and Finland. The heroic stand of the Finns against the Russian juggernaut provided a timely moral and psychological lift to those in the West willing to defend freedom.


Book cover of A Frozen Hell: The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939-1940

Bill Murray Author Of Out in the Cold: Travels North: Adventures in Svalbard, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland and Canada

From my list on to understand the high north.

Why am I passionate about this?

There’s nothing like personal experience. You have to read the literature, it’s true. That’s how we’ve all met here at Shepherd. But you have to roll up your sleeves and get down to visiting, too, if you want to write about travel. I first approached the Arctic in 1991 and I return above sixty degrees north every year, although I must confess to a secret advantage; I married a Finn. We spend summers at a little cabin north of Helsinki. I know the region personally, I keep coming back, and I invite you, whenever you can, to come up and join us!

Bill's book list on to understand the high north

Bill Murray Why did Bill love this book?

“Helsinki, 10:30 a.m., November 30, 1939. Soviet bombers drop from a cloud bank to unload their bombs on the capital city of Finland.

In the weeks to come the world will watch admiringly as the tiny army of a small Baltic republic wages the kind of war that inspires legends against the invading military might of the Soviet Union.”  

The Winter War between Finland and Russia flies under the radar of most general readers mainly because Finland, alone up in a cold, dark corner of Europe, got almost no help, so that its five million people had to face the mighty Red Army on its own.

It was a different kind of war, with undermanned Finnish soldiers on skis using unorthodox guerrilla tactics on in unimaginably difficult Arctic fighting conditions.

Trotter overlays a  thorough understanding of the conflict on the hard realities of the far north for a description that takes the reader…

By William Trotter,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Frozen Hell as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Masterfully recreates all the heroism, tragedy and drama of a campaign whose lessons deserve far more attention." —General James R. Galvin, former Supreme Allied Commander, Europe

In 1939, tiny Finland waged war-the kind of war that spawns legends-against the mighty Soviet Union, and yet their epic struggle has been largely ignored. Guerrillas on skis, heroic single-handed attacks on tanks, unfathomable endurance, and the charismatic leadership of one of this century's true military geniuses-these are the elements of both the Finnish victory and a gripping tale of war.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Finland, architecture, and World War 1?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Finland, architecture, and World War 1.

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