100 books like Restorative Cities

By Jenny Roe, Layla McCay,

Here are 100 books that Restorative Cities fans have personally recommended if you like Restorative Cities. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of On Immunity: An Inoculation

Sara Jensen Carr Author Of The Topography of Wellness: How Health and Disease Shaped the American Landscape

From my list on creating, building, and thinking about healthier places.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of architecture, urbanism, and landscape at Northeastern University in Boston, as well as a licensed architect and urban designer. I’ve always been fascinated by the ways the design of the world affects our decision-making, health, and opportunities, from the early days of my career designing hospitals to my current work researching and designing for green space equity and considering how we design in the age of pandemics and climate change. I hope these books, as well as my own writing and work, empower people to understand, ask for, and co-design healthier environments wherever they live, work, and play.

Sara's book list on creating, building, and thinking about healthier places

Sara Jensen Carr Why did Sara love this book?

Illness as Metaphor by Susan Sontag was an incredibly formative piece of writing for me, especially when I was thinking about how fears of tuberculosis and cancer shaped early and mid-20th-century design. I think this book picks up where that one left off, a piece of writing that not only writes a medical history but frames how we think about health, disease, and fear in discussions about vaccination, but with a great deal of empathy. This is a crucial read to understand how we bridge divisions and move forward in our pandemic age.

By Eula Biss,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked On Immunity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times Best Seller
A National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
A New York Times Book Review Top 10 Book of the Year
A Facebook "Year of Books" Selection

One of the Best Books of the Year
* National Book Critics Circle Award finalist * The New York Times Book Review (Top 10) * Entertainment Weekly (Top 10) * New York Magazine (Top 10)* Chicago Tribune (Top 10) * Publishers Weekly (Top 10) * Time Out New York (Top 10) * Los Angeles Times * Kirkus * Booklist * NPR's Science Friday * Newsday * Slate * Refinery…


Book cover of The Architecture of Health: Hospital Design and the Construction of Dignity

Sara Jensen Carr Author Of The Topography of Wellness: How Health and Disease Shaped the American Landscape

From my list on creating, building, and thinking about healthier places.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of architecture, urbanism, and landscape at Northeastern University in Boston, as well as a licensed architect and urban designer. I’ve always been fascinated by the ways the design of the world affects our decision-making, health, and opportunities, from the early days of my career designing hospitals to my current work researching and designing for green space equity and considering how we design in the age of pandemics and climate change. I hope these books, as well as my own writing and work, empower people to understand, ask for, and co-design healthier environments wherever they live, work, and play.

Sara's book list on creating, building, and thinking about healthier places

Sara Jensen Carr Why did Sara love this book?

Michael Murphy is one of the co-founders of MASS Design Group, who may have seen profiled on 60 Minutes or in the Wall Street Journal. This design firm and nonprofit probably does some of the best and broadest work in health and justice-centered design, in projects from the United States to Haiti to Rwanda. I began my career in hospital design, and this book is both a history of innovative healthcare facilities but also provides an introduction to MASS Design’s incredibly innovative work in this sector and is beautifully and richly illustrated to boot.

By Michael P. Murphy, Jeffrey Mansfield,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Architecture of Health is a story about the design and life of hospitals-about how they are born and evolve, about the forces that give them shape, and the shifts that conspire to render them inadequate. Reading architecture through the history of hospitals is a deciphering tool for unlocking the elemental principles of architecture and the intractable laws of human and social conditions that architecture serves in each of our lives.

This book encounters brilliant and visionary designers who were hospital architects but also systems designers, driven by the aim of social change. They faced the contradictions of health care in…


Book cover of Making Healthy Places: Designing and Building for Well-Being, Equity, and Sustainability

Sara Jensen Carr Author Of The Topography of Wellness: How Health and Disease Shaped the American Landscape

From my list on creating, building, and thinking about healthier places.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of architecture, urbanism, and landscape at Northeastern University in Boston, as well as a licensed architect and urban designer. I’ve always been fascinated by the ways the design of the world affects our decision-making, health, and opportunities, from the early days of my career designing hospitals to my current work researching and designing for green space equity and considering how we design in the age of pandemics and climate change. I hope these books, as well as my own writing and work, empower people to understand, ask for, and co-design healthier environments wherever they live, work, and play.

Sara's book list on creating, building, and thinking about healthier places

Sara Jensen Carr Why did Sara love this book?

This book is truly the primer for understanding all the ways in which urban planning, policy, and design effects health outcomes and collects the breadth of contemporary research on the topic in one volume. I have always assigned multiple chapters from the first book in one of my classes, which introduces students to these concepts, and will be making several updates to the syllabus now! The new second edition explores issues of health and environmental justice more in-depth, touches on COVID-19, and provides several examples of how cities and organizations have prioritized health in re-shaping their built environments.

By Nisha Botchwey (editor), Andrew L. Dannenberg (editor), Howard Frumkin (editor)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first edition of Making Healthy Places offered a visionary and thoroughly researched treatment of the connections between constructed environments and human health. Since its publication over 10 years ago, the field of healthy community design has evolved significantly to address major societal problems, including health disparities, obesity, and climate change. Most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has upended how we live, work, learn, play, and travel.

In Making Healthy Places, Second Edition: Designing and Building for Well-Being, Equity, and Sustainability, planning and public health experts Nisha D. Botchwey, Andrew L. Dannenberg, and Howard Frumkin bring together scholars and practitioners from…


Book cover of How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They're Built

David M. Weiss Author Of Software Product-Line Engineering: A Family-Based Software Development Process

From my list on for those interested in becoming engineers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I took a job as a programmer at the Naval Research Laboratory, working for astronomers who needed someone to write the code that would analyze the data coming back from the experiments that they flew on satellites and spacecraft. The first day on the job they showed me a sheet of FORTAN code and said “we want you to learn this.” It turned out to be the most fun thing I had ever done, and I went back to grad school and changed my major to computer science. I ended up as the Lanh and Oanh Nguyen Endowed Chair of Software Engineering in the Department of Computer Science at Iowa State University.

David's book list on for those interested in becoming engineers

David M. Weiss Why did David love this book?

Brand starts off by exploring structure in architecture. Not only does he identify the six key structures in buildings, but he tells us how rapidly they change.

Never have I met or heard of a software architect who could predict for me how rapidly the structures that he/she uses to design and build his/her system will change. (Many can't even identify what the key structures in their systems are).

Brand then gives us lessons in what kinds of buildings undergo what kinds of changes, and how to build in a way that encourages or discourages change. He shows how owners modify their buildings over time, and how buildings evolve as they pass from one owner to another.

Structure, designing for change, and understanding the possible evolutionary paths that your construct may take are all topics that should intensely interest software engineers.

By Stewart Brand,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked How Buildings Learn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Buildings have often been studies whole in space, but never before have they been studied whole in time. How Buildings Learn is a masterful new synthesis that proposes that buildings adapt best when constantly refined and reshaped by their occupants, and that architects can mature from being artists of space to becoming artists of time.

From the connected farmhouses of New England to I.M. Pei's Media Lab, from "satisficing" to "form follows funding," from the evolution of bungalows to the invention of Santa Fe Style, from Low Road military surplus buildings to a High Road English classic like Chatsworth this…


Book cover of The Death and Life of Great American Cities

Todd Swanstrom Author Of The Changing American Neighborhood: The Meaning of Place in the Twenty-First Century

From my list on why neighborhoods still matter.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, in a neighborhood that was stable, safe, and stimulating. After my freshman year in college, I signed up for an “urban experience” in Detroit. It turned out to be the summer of the Detroit riots. I woke up to U.S. Army vehicles rumbling into the park across from my apartment. Over the next month, I witnessed the looting and burning of whole neighborhoods. I remember thinking:  what a waste! Why are we throwing away neighborhoods like Kleenex? I have been trying to answer that question ever since.   

Todd's book list on why neighborhoods still matter

Todd Swanstrom Why did Todd love this book?

The book that propelled the fight against modernist city planning–think urban renewal or interstate highways–is still a thrill to read 62 years after its publication.

Generating most of her insights by walking the city streets and living in Greenwich Village, Jacobs shows how dense neighborhoods with diverse land uses generate valuable "weak ties" while avoiding the suffocating conformity of small towns.

Jacobs did not just talk the talk; she walked the walk–getting arrested for protesting Robert Moses’ plan to slice a highway through lower Manhattan. Embraced by both libertarians and progressive new urbanists, Jacobs still generates controversy, but you can feel her love for urban neighborhoods on every page.  

By Jane Jacobs,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Death and Life of Great American Cities as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this classic text, Jane Jacobs set out to produce an attack on current city planning and rebuilding and to introduce new principles by which these should be governed. The result is one of the most stimulating books on cities ever written.

Throughout the post-war period, planners temperamentally unsympathetic to cities have been let loose on our urban environment. Inspired by the ideals of the Garden City or Le Corbusier's Radiant City, they have dreamt up ambitious projects based on self-contained neighbourhoods, super-blocks, rigid 'scientific' plans and endless acres of grass. Yet they seldom stop to look at what actually…


Book cover of Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design

Alexander Stahle Author Of Closer Together: This is the Future of Cities

From my list on future cities and urban design.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a city researcher and urban planner I must constantly scan the urban world for trends and plans and projects. It really started when I was writing my PhD thesis on density and green spaces in cities. The thesis title became Compact Sprawl. I like counterpoints. Today I run to companies. Spacescape that is an urban planning consultancy and Placetoplan that is a webapp for citizen participation in planning. My home is covered with books about cities, architecture, transportation, parks, and natural landscapes. I am also a landscape architect, by the way. And I live in downtown Stockholm with two children and no car.

Alexander's book list on future cities and urban design

Alexander Stahle Why did Alexander love this book?

In Happy City, Charles, who is also is a good friend of mine, describes what is wrong with today’s cities and what we must do to fix them. Full of rich detail and new insights from psychologists and his own urban experiments, the book is an essential tool for understanding and improving our own communities. The message: by retrofitting our cities for happiness, we can tackle the urgent challenges of our age. The happy city, the green city, and the low-carbon city are the same place, and we can all help build them together.

By Charles Montgomery,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Happy City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Happy City is the story of how the solutions to this century's problems lie in unlocking the secrets to great city living

This is going to be the century of the city. But what actually makes a good city? Why are some cities a joy to live in?

As Charles Montgomery reveals, it's not how much money your neighbours earn, or how pleasant the climate is that makes the most difference. Journeying to dozens of cities - from Atlanta to Bogota to Vancouver - he talks to the new champions of the happy city to explore the urban innovations already…


Book cover of Animal City: The Domestication of America

Catherine McNeur Author Of Taming Manhattan: Environmental Battles in the Antebellum City

From my list on histories of nature in unexpected places.

Why am I passionate about this?

Catherine McNeur is an award-winning historian, interested in the ways that issues of power impact how humans understand and transform their environments. She has long found the books, art, and other creative expressions that mischievously push at the edges of what we consider “nature” compelling, whether it’s a celebration of the beauty of weeds in an abandoned lot or nature writing on the flora in our guts. After having written about social and environmental battles in New York City, she is now researching the lives, work, and erasure of two forgotten female scientists from nineteenth-century Philadelphia. She lives in Oregon where she is a professor at Portland State University.

Catherine's book list on histories of nature in unexpected places

Catherine McNeur Why did Catherine love this book?

I love the way Andrew Robichaud brings to life the animal ghosts that haunt our modern cities. In ways that we often forget today, animals were integral to the development of urban spaces in ways that were much more visible in the nineteenth century, whether they were horses pulling carriages or pigs and cows herded down the street toward slaughterhouses. The laws governing how cities were organized typically began with debates over where animals were welcome. Robichaud does a great job of recreating the ecologically diverse nineteenth-century American cities in ways that make it easier to understand urban spaces and our relationships with animals today.

By Andrew A. Robichaud,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Why do America's cities look the way they do? If we want to know the answer, we should start by looking at our relationship with animals.

Americans once lived alongside animals. They raised them, worked them, ate them, and lived off their products. This was true not just in rural areas but also in cities, which were crowded with livestock and beasts of burden. But as urban areas grew in the nineteenth century, these relationships changed. Slaughterhouses, dairies, and hog ranches receded into suburbs and hinterlands. Milk and meat increasingly came from stores, while the family cow and pig gave…


Book cover of Manufacturing Decline: How Racism and the Conservative Movement Crush the American Rust Belt

Kevin H. Wozniak Author Of The Politics of Crime Prevention: Race, Public Opinion, and the Meaning of Community Safety

From my list on racism and the politics of public investment.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since I first visited a prison during college and was shocked by its horrific conditions, I’ve been fascinated with America’s punitiveness—our tolerance for harsh, dehumanizing punishments. I pursued a Ph.D. in criminology in order to better understand the politics of crime and justice. I am constantly searching for “political space” within which to pursue meaningful criminal justice reform without provoking a punitive backlash. I was previously an associate professor of sociology at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and I am now a lecturer in criminology at the National University of Ireland Maynooth.

Kevin's book list on racism and the politics of public investment

Kevin H. Wozniak Why did Kevin love this book?

Manufacturing Decline educated me about the reasons why the steady loss of jobs, infrastructure, and population from Rust Belt cities in the latter half of the twentieth century was not a natural, unavoidable consequence of changes in the economy.

Hackworth tells a compelling history of the ways that Republican-controlled state legislatures enacted a variety of zoning, tax, and spending policies that facilitated the flow of resources out of cities (disproportionately populated by African Americans and Latinos) toward suburbs (disproportionately populated by White Americans).

The book includes a number of shocking quotes from Republican political advisors who admitted later in life that they knew how their policies would hurt Black communities.

By Jason Hackworth,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For decades, the distressed cities of the Rust Belt have been symbols of deindustrialization and postindustrial decay, their troubles cast as the inevitable outcome of economic change. The debate about why the fortunes of cities such as Detroit have fallen looms large over questions of social policy. In Manufacturing Decline, Jason Hackworth offers a powerful critique of the role of Rust Belt cities in American political discourse, arguing that antigovernment conservatives capitalized on-and perpetuated-these cities' misfortunes by stoking racial resentment.

Hackworth traces how the conservative movement has used the imagery and ideas of urban decline since the 1970s to advance…


Book cover of Baltimore Revisited: Stories of Inequality and Resistance in a U.S. City

Mary Rizzo Author Of Come and Be Shocked: Baltimore Beyond John Waters and the Wire

From my list on why Baltimore's problems are so hard to fix.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a cultural historian of 20th century America, I’m fascinated by how culture is used to rebel against the status quo and how the status quo fights back. In my first book, Class Acts: Young Men and the Rise of Lifestyle, I looked at greasers, hippies, and white hip hop lovers to understand how they used style and fashion to push back against being white and middle class. In Come and Be Shocked: Baltimore Beyond John Waters and The Wire, I went beyond looking at how individuals shape their identity to thinking about how artists and city leaders shape the identity of a place. Can artists counter the efforts of cities to create sanitized images of themselves?

Mary's book list on why Baltimore's problems are so hard to fix

Mary Rizzo Why did Mary love this book?

The history that matters most to me is the history that can help explain the world we live in now. The editors of Baltimore Revisited, a collection of brilliant essays about the city, takes that to heart. Fascinating chapters trace the War on Drugs back to the 1910s, when the city outlawed cocaine, examine how Johns Hopkins University’s growth has displaced Black residents for decades, and surprise us with the fact that Maryland was home to the longest-running movie censorship board in the country (which only closed shop in 1981). More than curiosities, though, these authors reveal how race, gender, sexuality, and class have affected Baltimore.

Most importantly, the book focuses on how everyday people fought back against discrimination through acts as varied as pickets against segregation to dancing in gay bars. The book is good history, yes, but also a call to action. 

By P. Nicole King (editor), Kate Drabinski (editor), Joshua Clark Davis (editor)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Nicknamed both "Mobtown" and "Charm City" and located on the border of the North and South, Baltimore is a city of contradictions. From media depictions in The Wire to the real-life trial of police officers for the murder of Freddie Gray, Baltimore has become a quintessential example of a struggling American city. Yet the truth about Baltimore is far more complicated-and more fascinating.

To help untangle these apparent paradoxes, the editors of Baltimore Revisited have assembled a collection of over thirty experts from inside and outside academia. Together, they reveal that Baltimore has been ground zero for a slew of…


Book cover of The New Urban Frontier: Gentrification and the Revanchist City

Leah Modigliani Author Of Counter Revanchist Art in the Global City: Walls, Blockades, and Barricades as Repertoires of Creative Action

From my list on moving through the city with newly critical eyes.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since the age of seven, I've been conscious of the need to bypass how one is supposed to do things. I realized then that my grandmother could not pursue a writing career because she was also a woman and a wife; a cautionary tale I took to heart since I was already beginning to identify as an artist. I'm driven to uncover how we recognize what we see, and how forces beyond our control engender or foreclose upon new ways of being in the world. A professional life lived in the arts has allowed the fullest flexibility for exploring these ideas as one is generally encouraged to think differently.

Leah's book list on moving through the city with newly critical eyes

Leah Modigliani Why did Leah love this book?

This is the book that launched a thousand essays about gentrification in urban neighborhoods and reinvented the term “revanchism” for use in critical geography.

From the French noun revanche, revanchism refers to a policy or movement focused on reacquiring a nation's lost territory. The Revanchist City as it became known after Smith’s book, describes city residents under siege by their own city governments.

Starting with a description of the battles over who could use Tompkins Square Park in New York City’s Lower East Side in the 1980s and 90s, and moving on to other case studies (some global), Smith shows how cities are transformed into zones of international capital investment and class privilege through neoliberal policies enacted at the municipal level. 

By Neil Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Why have so many central and inner cities in Europe, North America and Australia been so radically revamped in the last three decades, converting urban decay into new chic? Will the process continue in the twenty-first century or has it ended? What does this mean for the people who live there? Can they do anything about it?
This book challenges conventional wisdom, which holds gentrification to be the simple outcome of new middle-class tastes and a demand for urban living. It reveals gentrification as part of a much larger shift in the political economy and culture of the late twentieth…


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