10 books like Cubed

By Nikil Saval,

Here are 10 books that Cubed fans have personally recommended if you like Cubed. 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 Architecture of the Absurd: How "Genius" Disfigured a Practical Art

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?

Although not an architect or critic, Silber takes on the “Starchitect” who designs, not for the user, but for ego. Offering examples such as Liebeskind’s Royal Ontario Museum and Gehry’s Stata Center at MIT, Silber offers a bold argument that many of our leading lights too enmeshed in Archi-speak and have convinced clients to approve projects that don’t work. You may disagree with the author, but this slim volume will get you to think.

By John Silber,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Have you ever wondered why the Guggenheim is always covered in scaffolding? Why the slashes on the exterior of Libeskind's Jewish Museum, supposed to represent Jewish life in prewar Berlin, reappear, for no reason, on his Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto? Or why Gehry's design for an MIT lab for sensitive research has glass walls? Not to mention why, for $44.2 per square foot, it doesn't keep out the rain? You're not alone.
In Architecture of the Absurd, John Silber dares to peek behind the curtain of "genius" architects and expose their willful disdain for their clients, their budgets, and…


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 Form Follows Finance: Skyscrapers and Skylines in New York and Chicago

Jason M. Barr Author Of Building the Skyline: The Birth and Growth of Manhattan's Skyscrapers

From my list on the New York City skyline.

Why am I passionate about this?

If you told me as a kid, growing up in the suburbs of Long Island, that I would someday spend nearly all my working hours reading and writing about skyscrapers and skylines, I would have thought you were nuts. But somehow, in my twenties, as I spent more time in New York City, I came to feel a deep connection with the metropolis. Its skyscrapers and skyline speak to its history as a city of strivers. I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to merge my personal passions with my professional life as an economist. My recommended books are ones that excited me in my journey to understand better the city that I love.

Jason's book list on the New York City skyline

Jason M. Barr Why did Jason love this book?

A great account of the interaction between economics and architecture in the rise of the New York and Chicago skylines. Willis is the founder and director of the Skyscraper Museum in New York City. This book was one of the first that I read as I started to do research on the economics of skyscrapers. I was fascinated by Willis' account. Arguably, this book, more than any other, helped to define my 15 years of research on the topic.

By Carol Willis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Although fundamental factors of program, technology, and economics make tall buildings everywhere take similar forms, skyscrapers in New York and Chicago developed very differently in the first half of the twentieth century. In contrast to standard histories that counterpose the design philosophies of the Chicago and New York "schools," Willis shows how market formulas produced characteristic forms in each city"vernaculars of capitalism"that resulted from local land-use patterns, municipal codes, and zoning. Refuting some common clichs of skyscraper history such as the equation of big buildings with big business and the idea of a "corporate skyline," Willis emphasizes the importance of…


Book cover of Personal Days

Weike Wang Author Of Joan Is Okay

From my list on workaholics who still have time to read.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am fascinated by work, especially women at work. I am an immigrant, a child of immigrants, a former scientist, and for most of life, have been conditioned to work because if I could not work, then why else was I here? Yet work is not strictly an emblem of immigrant grit or the model minority mindset. It can be made funny, surreal, existential, and it’s a rich subject to tackle. More often than not, work is treated as taboo. It’s ignored or deemed too prosaic to discuss.  Who wants to see what goes on inside the factory? I do. I’m obsessed with stories that showcase the factory. 

Weike's book list on workaholics who still have time to read

Weike Wang Why did Weike love this book?

Here is a dark comedy for the office worker. Office dysfunction is unique but also ubiquitous and lends itself well to, of course, Kafkaesque and Orwellian absurdity. One day, people just start getting fired, which leads to growing paranoia and more dysfunction. I like stories that don’t explain too much. Thanks to the pandemic, life, especially work life, has become increasingly amorphous and unreal. What is balance anymore? Where is the line? It’s refreshing to be immersed in a world even more bizarre than the one that workaholics now seem to be living in. 

By Ed Park,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ever wondered what your boss does all day?Or if there is a higher - perhaps an existential - significance to Microsoft Word malfunctions? This astonishing debut is a scathingly funny look at a group of office workers who have no idea what the unnamed corporation they work for actually does.When it looks like the company may be taken over, fear of redundancy unleashes a deliciously Kafkaesque plot full of the tedium and mistrust of corporate life and the backstabbing bitchiness of our survival-of-the-fittest instincts. We meet Pru, the ex-grad student-turned-spreadsheet drone; Laars, the hysteric whose work anxiety follows him into…


Book cover of Red Thunder

David Lee Summers Author Of The Solar Sea

From my list on humans taking the next big step into space.

Why am I passionate about this?

After watching the moon landings as a child, I've long wondered when humans would visit a world beyond the moon and what that would be like. This led me to explore novels that imagine space travel. What's more, I pursued a career in astronomy so I could do my part to explore worlds beyond the Earth. Exploring the solar system and worlds beyond our solar system raises many questions. Some are practical, like how do we get there? Some involve what we'll learn and how the experience of visiting these worlds will change us. The books I recommend explore these themes from several different perspectives.

David's book list on humans taking the next big step into space

David Lee Summers Why did David love this book?

Set in the near future, this novel imagines that the Americans and Chinese are racing to get to Mars. Meanwhile, a group of teenagers team up with an astronaut forced to retire in disgrace. One of the teens has invented a new type of drive that might just allow them to beat both governments to Mars. The book is fast-paced, fun, and shows how a team can come together to solve a problem, without ignoring the very real dangers of space travel. It also gives a nod to how technology developed for space travel can help us right here on Earth.

By John Varley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“The heart-pounding space race is on . . . in this riveting SF thriller” from the Hugo and Nebula Award–winning author of Red Lightning and Rolling Thunder (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
 
As Chinese and US spacecraft compete to be the first to land on Mars, a former astronaut, his cousin, and four teens from Florida decide to take matters into their own hands. If they can quickly build their own space-worthy ship using scrap metal, appliances, and power tools, they have a chance to come from behind—thanks to an inventive new power source that can propel them to the Red…


Book cover of Life in London

Stephen Carver Author Of The Author Who Outsold Dickens: The Life and Works of W.H. Ainsworth

From my list on the 19th century they don’t teach you in school.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a great one for alternative histories. I’m particularly fascinated by authors who were bestsellers in their own day but have been edited out of the official version of ‘English literature’. We constantly have Dickens, the Brontës, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, and so forth fed back to us through reprinted novels, costume dramas, and lavish film adaptations, but there were other authors active at the time who commanded huge sales but whose work has now been largely forgotten or disregarded. These authors deserve attention, while their rediscovered work would freshen up the ongoing discourse of cultural retrieval. Seek them out, as I have, and I promise it’ll be worth it.

Stephen's book list on the 19th century they don’t teach you in school

Stephen Carver Why did Stephen love this book?

An exuberant serial novel by Regency sporting journalist Egan, illustrated by a young George Cruikshank (Dickens’ future artist). In it, three friends (based on the author, Cruikshank, and his younger brother Robert), document their ‘rambles and sprees through the metropolis’. It is a tale of dandies on safari written entirely in ‘flash’ slang, the language of the 19th-century underworld. The book was a publishing sensation, inspiring Dickens’ Pickwick Papers. I was introduced to this by my dear friend the late Professor Roger Sales many years ago, and it has been inspiring me ever since as a novelist and cultural historian. Egan’s style is bawdy and irreverent, until his voice was silenced by Victorian propriety a generation later. Can also be read as early social investigation.  

By Pierce Egan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Pierce Egan (1772-1849) was born near London and lived in the area his whole life. He was a famous sports reporter and writer on popular culture. His first book, Boxiana, was a collection of articles about boxing. It was a huge success and established Egan's reputation for wit and sporting knowledge. He is probably best remembered today as the creator of Corinthian Tom and Jerry Hawthorn ('Tom and Jerry'). Published in 1821 and beautifully illustrated by the Cruikshank brothers, this book is the original collection of Tom and Jerry's riotous adventures through Regency London. Its satirical humour and trademark use…


Book cover of Kafka in Love

Diane Charney Author Of Letters to Men of Letters

From my list on offbeat memoirs.

Why am I passionate about this?

I taught at Yale for 33 years and I hold advanced degrees from the Sorbonne. I am interested in literature as lessons for life, but I am mostly a passionate letter writer, especially to the great authors who have marked me. They are never really dead. I carry them around with me. I selected the category of Offbeat Memoirs because I have written one. I also have an Italian alter-ego, Donatella de Poitiers, who authors a blog in which she muses about how a lifelong Francophile could have forsaken la Belle France for la dolce vita in the Umbrian countryside, where the food and fresh air are way better than the roads.

Diane's book list on offbeat memoirs

Diane Charney Why did Diane love this book?

I consider the author my French Writing Partner; I have been her translator. Our mutual love for Franz Kafka brought us together. Her book draws on Kafka’s letters to the women he could never bring himself to marry. Jacqueline and I feel that, in our shared devotion to Kafka, we perhaps understand him better than the women he left behind. He may have had a hard time finding his own soulmate, but in our case, he turned out to be quite the matchmaker.

By Jacqueline Raoul-Duval,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Kafka was an attractive, slender, and elegant man--something of a dandy, who captivated his friends and knew how to charm women. He seemed to have had four important love affairs: Felice, Julie, Milena, and Dora. All of them lived far away, in Berlin or Vienna, and perhaps that's one of the reasons that he loved them: he chose long-distance relationships so he could have the pleasure of writing to them, without the burden of having to live with them. He was engaged to all four women, and four times he avoided marriage. At the end of each love affair, he…


Book cover of Cut to the Quick

Janet L. Buck Author Of The Dead Betray None

From my list on mysteries set in Regency era England.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a mystery fan all my life and an avid reader of Regency fiction—from the mystery authors I’ve recommended to early Regency romance writers, including Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer. When I visited England a few years ago, I dragged my travel companion to all the Regency landmarks left standing and nearly missed a tour bus because I just had to see a Regency assembly room where their dances were held! When I switched from writing fantasy (under the pen name Ally Shields) to writing historical mysteries in 2019, I spent hundreds of hours devouring non-fiction books on this fascinating period of Prince George’s regency (1811-1820).

Janet's book list on mysteries set in Regency era England

Janet L. Buck Why did Janet love this book?

Kate Ross's books are unique in her choice of protagonist—outwardly a self-obsessed dandy rather than a hero—and in her deftness at creating the classic whodunit.

Although Julian Kestrel's ancestry is a bit vague, he clearly moves among the upper class with ease. After rescuing a young lord from a gaming hell, he is invited to a country house party. Unfortunately, he wakes up next to the body of a beautiful but very dead woman.

The only thing disappointing about this series is its shortness. The author passed away prematurely after writing only four books.

By Kate Ross,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cut to the Quick as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

England in the 1820s is the setting for this period mystery, which introduces the detective, Julian Kestrel. He finds the corpse of an attractive woman in his bed during an elegant country weekend at a friend's estate. He sets out to discover which of his hosts is a killer.


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