100 books like Architecture of the Absurd

By John Silber,

Here are 100 books that Architecture of the Absurd fans have personally recommended if you like Architecture of the Absurd. 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 Understanding Architecture

Laura Dushkes Author Of The Architect Says: Quotes, Quips, and Words of Wisdom

From my list on architecture for non-experts.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was young, my parents gave me a book of quotations. I was hooked. Now I’m the solo librarian for NBBJ, a design firm with 12 offices worldwide and I select and buy books for all 12 offices. I search for the best books to inspire the designers I work with. But I’m aware that not everyone who works for an architectural firm is an architect. We have people in accounting, facilities, tech services, and more. I try to have a selection of books for these people, too – people who are interested in architecture, but aren’t experts. I have a Master’s in medieval history and a Master's in Library and Information Science.

Laura's book list on architecture for non-experts

Laura Dushkes Why did Laura love this book?

I love this book for its approach to teaching about architecture. It’s not a textbook primer on the subject that starts with the ancient world and ends in the modern world. Instead, it covers the basic principles of architecture by covering themes, such as light, landscape, place, and matter. Each theme is illuminated by examples of buildings from the Egyptian pyramids to Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright. The text is easy to read and each example has ample photographs. Truly accessible to all.

By Robert McCarter, Juhani Pallasmaa,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Intended both as an introductory text for students and professionals in the field as well as an accessible read for the general public, Primer on Architecture (working title) addresses the basic principles of architecture and uncovers its ongoing influence in contemporary culture. The volume is organized in a series of chapters based on key architectural themes--space, time, matter, gravity, light, silence, dwelling, ritual, memory, landscape, and place--with an introductory essay for each chapter that includes a wide variety of historical examples from around the world followed by more in depth analyses of key buildings that further exemplify the theme of…


Book cover of The Architecture of Happiness

Sarah Lahey Author Of Kat Girl

From my list on your relationship is failing while renovating.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love writing books that feature buildings and construction as a backdrop to life. I’ve worked as an interior designer for over 30 years, and now I teach design at a university in Sydney. Our homes offer so much more than four walls and a roof. They provide us with comfort and shelter. They offer security and stability. They help us stay sane and grounded in a sometimes confusing and turbulent world. I don’t think the importance of our homes can be underestimated.

Sarah's book list on your relationship is failing while renovating

Sarah Lahey Why did Sarah love this book?

If you’re in the middle of renovating and feel like you’ve lost your way, you might need a new perspective. This book will get you back on track.

Easy for laypeople to understand—the writing is simple and elegant—it’s philosophical and wise. It might even change how you look at the world, or at least the way you look at architecture. Hopefully, you’ll remember why you’re renovating in the first place. 

By Alain De Botton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What makes a house beautiful? Is it serious to spend your time thinking about home decoration? Why do people disagree about taste? Can buildings make us happy? In The Architecture of Happiness Alain de Botton tackles a relationship central to our lives. Our buildings - and the objects we fill them with - affect us more profoundly than we might think. To take architecture seriously is to accept that we are, for better and for worse, different people in different places. De Botton suggests that it is architecture's task to render vivid to us who we might ideally be. Turning…


Book cover of Cubed: The Secret History of the Workplace

Laura Dushkes Author Of The Architect Says: Quotes, Quips, and Words of Wisdom

From my list on architecture for non-experts.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was young, my parents gave me a book of quotations. I was hooked. Now I’m the solo librarian for NBBJ, a design firm with 12 offices worldwide and I select and buy books for all 12 offices. I search for the best books to inspire the designers I work with. But I’m aware that not everyone who works for an architectural firm is an architect. We have people in accounting, facilities, tech services, and more. I try to have a selection of books for these people, too – people who are interested in architecture, but aren’t experts. I have a Master’s in medieval history and a Master's in Library and Information Science.

Laura's book list on architecture for non-experts

Laura Dushkes Why did Laura love this book?

Those of us who toil in an office might not be aware of the history of this workplace. But it has a fascinating background, and Saval beautifully shows the reader how our current office evolved from the 19th century through Frederick Taylor, who sought to transform workers into automatons and on to the dreaded cubicle. Eminently readable, you’ll never look at your office desk in the same way.

By Nikil Saval,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

You mean this place we go to five days a week has a history? Cubed reveals the unexplored yet surprising story of the places where most of the world's work—our work—gets done. From "Bartleby the Scrivener" to The Office, from the steno pool to the open-plan cubicle farm, Cubed is a fascinating, often funny, and sometimes disturbing anatomy of the white-collar world and how it came to be the way it is—and what it might become.

In the mid-nineteenth century clerks worked in small, dank spaces called “counting-houses.” These were all-male enclaves, where work was just paperwork. Most Americans considered…


Book cover of The Women Who Changed Architecture

Laura Dushkes Author Of The Architect Says: Quotes, Quips, and Words of Wisdom

From my list on architecture for non-experts.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was young, my parents gave me a book of quotations. I was hooked. Now I’m the solo librarian for NBBJ, a design firm with 12 offices worldwide and I select and buy books for all 12 offices. I search for the best books to inspire the designers I work with. But I’m aware that not everyone who works for an architectural firm is an architect. We have people in accounting, facilities, tech services, and more. I try to have a selection of books for these people, too – people who are interested in architecture, but aren’t experts. I have a Master’s in medieval history and a Master's in Library and Information Science.

Laura's book list on architecture for non-experts

Laura Dushkes Why did Laura love this book?

All of the architects mentioned in my other recommendations are men. Yet many women broke barriers to become noteworthy architects. This recently-published book aims to bring to readers the profiles of dozens of women architects. Organized by the birthdate of the architect, this book also has short essays throughout that bring context to the profiles. Some of the names will likely be new to you (Marion Mahony Griffin) and some well-known (Julia Morgan, Jeanne Gang). This is an excellent corrective to the history of architecture.

By Jan Cigliano Hartman (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Women Who Changed Architecture as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A visual and global chronicle of the triumphs, challenges, and impact of over 100 women in architecture, from early practitioners to contemporary leaders.

Marion Mahony Griffin passed the architectural licensure exam in 1898 and created exquisite drawings that buoyed the reputation of Frank Lloyd Wright. Her story is one of the many told in The Women Who Changed Architecture, which sets the record straight on the transformative impact women have made on architecture. With in-depth profiles and stunning images, this is the most comprehensive look at women in architecture around the world, from the nineteenth century to today. Discover contemporary…


Book cover of Shelter

Jeanie and David Stiles Author Of Cabins: A Guide to Building Your Own Nature Retreat

From my list on that will inspire you to build your own cabin or nature home.

Why are we passionate about this?

We have written 27 “how-to” books on building outdoor projects, including cabins, sheds, and treehouses. David does the illustrations and I do the descriptive writing. Our goal is to make the instructions clear to both right and left brain readers – and to make the two elements complement each other. Our readers often tell us that a computer drawing does not have the same appeal and clarity as hand drawing. We are able to ‘talk’ a reader through the process of building something with our drawings. People often send us photographs of their completed projects – it’s a big part of the satisfaction we get from writing our books.

Jeanie's book list on that will inspire you to build your own cabin or nature home

Jeanie and David Stiles Why did Jeanie love this book?

Lloyd Kahn has long been a leading light in DIY home building, and wrote for The Whole Earth Catalog in its counter-culture heyday. Shelter still inspires the reader with photographs and descriptions of home-built cabins and alternative dwellings from around the world; the range of techniques and materials covered is impressively wide.

By Lloyd Kahn (editor), Bob Easton (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Shelter is many things — a visually dynamic, oversized compendium of organic architecture past and present; a how-to book that includes over 1,250 illustrations; and a Whole Earth Catalog-type sourcebook for living in harmony with the earth by using every conceivable material. First published in 1973, Shelter remains a source of inspiration and invention. Including the nuts-and-bolts aspects of building, the book covers such topics as dwellings from Iron Age huts to Bedouin tents to Togo's tin-and-thatch houses; nomadic shelters from tipis to "housecars"; and domes, dome cities, sod iglus, and even treehouses.
The authors recount personal stories about alternative…


Book cover of Concretopia: A Journey Around the Rebuilding of Postwar Britain

Mary Soderstrom Author Of Concrete: From Ancient Origins to a Problematic Future

From my list on to design a workable, walkable, wonderful city.

Why am I passionate about this?

I like to say I'm a born-again pedestrian. After a childhood in car-friendly Southern California, I moved first to the San Francisco Bay Area and then to Montreal. There I discovered the pleasures of living in walkable cities, and over the years I've explored them in a series of books about people, nature, and urban spaces in which the problems of spread-out, concrete-heavy cities take a front-row seat. The impact of the way we've built our cities over the last 100 years is becoming apparent, as carbon dioxide rises, driving climate changes. We must change the way we live, and the books I suggest give some insights about what to do and what not to do.

Mary's book list on to design a workable, walkable, wonderful city

Mary Soderstrom Why did Mary love this book?

Don't worry if you really don't care about housing in London or Liverpool: you should read this book about what happens when a country gives high-rise housing its best shot, and then messes things up. It is partly a cautionary tale about what happens when support for ambitious housing projects is killed by right-wing politicians, but also a tribute to the people who thought at first they'd died and gone to heaven when they got a flat with inside plumbing.  

By John Grindrod,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


TOWER BLOCKS. FLYOVERS. STREETS IN THE SKY. ONCE, THIS WAS THE FUTURE.
'Never has a trip from Croydon and back again been so fascinating. John Grindrod's witty and informative tour of Britain is a total treat'

CATHERINE CROFT, Director, Twentieth Century Society
Was Britain's postwar rebuilding the height of midcentury chic or the concrete embodiment of Crap Towns? John Grindrod decided to find out how blitzed, slum-ridden and crumbling 'austerity Britain' became, in a few short years, a space-age world of concrete, steel and glass.
On his journey he visits the sleepy Norfolk birthplace of Brutalism, the once-Blitzed city centre…


Book cover of Immersed: The California Houses of Feldman Architecture

Chase Reynolds Ewald and Heather Sandy Hebert Author Of At Home in the Wine Country: Architecture & Design in the California Vineyards

From my list on design on inspired living on the West Coast.

Why are we passionate about this?

At Home in the Wine Country coauthors Heather and Chase love the open, nature-focused attitude toward living that California does so well. Heather worked in the field of architecture for 25 years and is the author of The New Architecture of Wine. Chase has been a western lifestyle writer for 30 years and is the author of 14 books, including Modern Americana, American Rustic, Cabin Style, and Bison. As writers and consultants they work with publishers, magazines, and design, hospitality and wine clients to craft and convey their stories. Heather and Chase live in spectacularly scenic Marin County, halfway between San Francisco and California's iconic wine country.

Chase's book list on design on inspired living on the West Coast

Chase Reynolds Ewald and Heather Sandy Hebert Why did Chase love this book?

The new monograph of the work of one of our favorite architects from our book — San Francisco-based Feldman Architecture. It's a look at 20 years of the firm's work, a collection of homes that both reflects and defines what it means to live authentically within the landscape of Northern California. We particularly love how the architects design for site, whether the home is situated high on a ridge, nestled amongst oaks or tucked within a cityscape, and their masterful use of materials. Their Surf House, overlooking the ocean in Santa Cruz, is lined inside and out with local Monterey cypress. An existing San Francisco Edwardian was transformed by the addition of a central staircase with skylights bringing light deep into the interior. Butterfly House speaks to the land trust on which it dwells as a sustainably-minded home designed as three separate volumes united by a butterfly roof. No matter…

By Vladimir Belogolovsky (editor), Daniel P. Gregory (editor), Aaron Betsky (editor)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Immersed - The California Houses of Feldman Architecture is an indepth look at 20 years of the firm's defining residential work spanning three areas: Urban, Suburban, and Rural. Feldman Architecture, a vibrant San Francisco-based studio, aims to create authentic, sitesensitive, sustainable spaces through a deeply collaborative process. This book, which includes commentary from Aaron Betsky and Daniel P. Gregory, as well as an interview with Vladimir Belogolovsky, situates Feldman Architecture's work within the northern California design canon and illustrates how the firm's voice subtly translates across diverse geographies and contexts. Jonathan Feldman, in closing, reflects upon the values and aspirations…


Book cover of Archidoodle: An Architect's Activity Book

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 is a fun sketching book to let your imagination run wild. More than just a coloring book, there are visual prompts that allow the user to modify or redesign an iconic building, or create one from scratch. It provides the framework; you provide the artistry. For kids and adults of all ages, this book will provoke creativity and encourage the architect in everyone.

By Steve Bowkett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This innovative book is the first to provide a fun, interactive way to learn about architecture. Filled with an array of beautiful and elegant drawings, it poses all manner of architectural challenges for the user: from designing your own skyscraper, to drawing an island house or creating a Constructivist monument, plus many others more.

Aimed at anyone who loves drawing buildings, it encourages the user to imagine their own creative solutions by sketching, drawing and painting in the pages of the book. In so doing, they will learn about a whole range of significant architectural issues, such as the importance…


Book cover of What is Architecture? And 100 Other Questions

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 small format hardback is a really enjoyable read, as it asks a lot of good questions about architecture that will really get you thinking and curious about the topics. Each question is answered quickly (in a sentence), and then in a longer format, but still very digestible. It’s a great gift for any architecture lover.

By Rasmus Wærn, Gert Windgardh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What is Architecture? And 100 Other Questions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This entertaining and informative book explores the world of architecture through a series of 101 questions and answers that cover a wide range of issues on its practice and theory. There are historical questions, such as "Who was the first architect?" and "Are all churches architecture?" as well as ones that relate to contemporary activity, such as "Have computers changed architecture?" and "How small can a home get?." There are also many that are intriguing and irreverent, such as "Why do architects want to paint the world white?" and "Is Dubai a city?". For each of the questions there is…


Book cover of No Place Like Utopia: Modern Architecture and the Company We Kept

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?

Hands down, the best book on modern architecture from someone who lived it. Peter Blake was an architect and renowned critic who ran in serious architectural circles during the modern movement. As editor-in-chief of Architectural Forum, he was an expert on the topic and knew everyone involved. His engaging and approachable writing style makes this a must-read for every budding modernist. I re-read this book every year…it’s that good.

By Peter Blake,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No Place Like Utopia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Brings to life the masters of twentieth-century architecture and art, sharing anecdotes and memories of Frank Lloyd Wright, Buckminster Fuller, Le Corbusier, Jackson Pollock, and others


5 book lists we think you will like!

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