100 books like Shelter

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

Here are 100 books that Shelter fans have personally recommended if you like Shelter. 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 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties: The Classic Guide to Building Wilderness Shelters

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.

Who are we?

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?

An oldie but goodie - many of the techniques described are still applicable in modern times. Beard includes lengthy descriptions and illustrations of building all kinds of small shelters, including cabins, treehouses & towers. He helped start the Boy Scouts of America and was an avid woodsman, illustrator, and conservationist. His tips on outdoor living are invaluable – including two chapters on how to use an ax. 

By D.C. Beard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This excellent hands-on guide by one of the founders of the Boy Scouts of America contains a wealth of practical instruction and advice on how to build everything from a bark teepee and a tree-top house to a log cabin and a sod house. No professional architects are needed here; and knowing how to use an axe is more important than possessing carpentry skills.
More than 300 of the author's own illustrations and a clear, easy-to-follow text enable campers to create such lodgings as half-cave shelters, beaver mat huts, birch bark shacks, over-water camps, a Navajo hogan, and a pole…


Book cover of Microshelters: 59 Creative Cabins, Tiny Houses, Tree Houses, and Other Small Structures

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.

Who are we?

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?

Lots of color photos and enthusiastic commentary by the author, as well as six sets of affordable building plans. Deek specializes in using recycled and salvaged materials. He also uses a clear plastic Tuftex polycarbonate as a material, which is inexpensive, easy to install, and allows light in. A good book for beginner and intermediate builders.   

By Diedricksen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Created by an assembly of leading designers, architects, and bloggers, these 57 unique and innovative designs will show you the limits of what is possible. All of the designs include beautiful full-colour photos along with floor plans and building tips; 15 of them include flushed-out concept sketches; and five include step-by-step building plans. You'll also find guidelines on building with recycled and salvaged materials, plus techniques for making your small space comfortable and easy to inhabit.


Book cover of Building Construction Illustrated

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.

Who are we?

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?

Building Construction Illustrated is a comprehensive visual guide to the principles of building construction. Francis D.K. Ching’s clear illustrations and hand lettering have set the standard for 50 years. The book explains concepts in residential and commercial construction, architecture, and structural engineering. The sixth edition features new illustrations and updated information on sustainability, green building, and insulation materials.

By Francis D. K. Ching,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The #1 visual guide to building construction principles, updated with the latest materials, methods, and systems

For over four decades, Building Construction Illustrated has been the leading visual guide to the principles of building construction. Filled with rich illustrations and in-depth content by renowned author Francis D.K. Ching, it offers students and practicing professionals the information needed to understand concepts in residential and commercial construction, architecture, and structural engineering.

This Sixth Edition of Building Construction Illustrated has been revised throughout to reflect the latest advancements in building design, materials, and systems, including resilient design, diagrids, modular foundation systems, smart facade…


Book cover of Original Whole Earth Catalog

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.

Who are we?

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?

The Whole Earth Catalog has been inspiring people (including us) to build their own small dwellings since the 60s. Among other things, it’s a how-to manual of construction techniques and a life guide with readers’ recommendations and opinions. Brand coined the term ‘personal computer’ and signed off the final edition of The Whole Earth Catalog in 1974 with “Stay hungry, stay foolish” (famously quoted by Steve Jobs in a commencement speech at Stanford over 30 years later).

Book cover of Responsive Environments

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

From my list on analysing architecture.

Who am I?

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?

This book is as much about urban design and landscape architecture as about architecture, its annotated sketches demonstrating how good places respond to their contexts.

I like its straightforward, practical, and concise approach. Although billed as ‘a manual for designers’, it is equally useful in analysing why some environments work, both practically and emotionally, and others don’t.

It is opinionated, not afraid to criticise as well as applaud. 

By Ian Bentley (editor), Alan Alcock, Paul Murrain , Sue McGlynn , Graham Smith

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Clearly demonstrates the specific characteristics that make for comprehensible, friendly and controllable places; 'Responsive Environments' - as opposed to the alienating environments often imposed today. By means of sketches and diagrams, it shows how they may be designed in to places or buildings.

This is a practical book about architecture and urban design. It is most concerned with the areas of design which most frequently go wrong and impresses the idea that ideals alone are not enough. Ideals must be linked through appropriate design ideas to the fabric of the built environemnt itself. This book is a practical attempt to…


Book cover of American Building: The Environmental Forces That Shape It

Alison G. Kwok and Walter Grondzik Author Of The Green Studio Handbook: Environmental Strategies for Schematic Design

From my list on environmental schematic design.

Who are we?

Alison and Walter have come into architecture on different paths, Alison with a biology/chemistry background (yes, one can become an architect with an accredited, first professional degree in architecture) and Walter through architectural engineering. We both believe that the union of science, aesthetics, energy, comfort, and health make buildings work! We enjoy creating simplified design processes for students to use in their work, so that they can gain confidence in the first steps of design. Equally, we feel it important to clearly understand what is to be created and how to confirm that what was intended actually results in the built environment.

Alison's book list on environmental schematic design

Alison G. Kwok and Walter Grondzik Why did Alison love this book?

Fitch is best known as a city planner—not as an architect or engineer. Perhaps it is this perspective that allowed him to prepare a delightful introduction to the various sensory dimensions—the environmental forces—we engage as building users.

These dimensions, which constitute much of our holistic experience with architecture, include air quality, light, sound, and heat. None are truly shown on architectural plans. All affect us for better or worse. This is a great introductory read bereft of equations. 

By James Marston Fitch, William Bobenhausen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Few books have influenced the field of architecture more than American Building: The Environmental Forces That Shape It. Originally published in 1947, it has emerged as a classic work on the relationships among buildings, their inhabitants, and the environment. Now comes the first major revision in over twenty-five years, bringing this essential book completely up to date for a new, more environmentally aware generation of architects and designers.
In this superb volume, James Marston Fitch provides a fundamental theory of buildings. "The ultimate task of architecture," he writes, "is to act in favor of human beings: to interpose itself between…


Book cover of Designing Your Natural House

Jeanie and David Stiles Author Of Cabin: A Guide to Building the Perfect Getaway

From my list on hand-illustrated books on building.

Who are we?

As the authors of 27 hand-illustrated books, we are acutely aware of the time and skill required for good rendering. We are old-schoolers ourselves, having cut our teeth on “how-to” books before computers came into vogue. 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. We have also found that the best illustrated books often have the best content!

Jeanie's book list on hand-illustrated books on building

Jeanie and David Stiles Why did Jeanie love this book?

This is an outlier that maybe not many have heard about or read. It features two award-winning designers who define, and illustrate, some 200 “rules of good architecture”. The artwork and lettering are by Malcolm Wells—an architect well-known for his sharp wit and off-beat leanings (underground houses being one). The messaging is accurate and timeless. The tone is light, as is the author’s back-and-forth banter. Wells’s illustrations bring the message home with clarity and force. It is a book that is at the same time funny, useful, and beautiful. Good luck finding one! 

Book cover of Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space

Conrad Kickert Author Of Dream City: Creation, Destruction, and Reinvention in Downtown Detroit

From my list on the exciting life of cities.

Who am I?

Growing up in a Dutch city, I vividly remember witnessing the excitement of urban life through the windows of a streetcar, on foot, or by bike. Soon, I began to recreate this excitement by drawing maps of imaginary cities of my own. My small towns turned into entire regions, their streets coming to life as I closed my eyes. I essentially turned my childhood fascination into my job, as I now study, design, and teach students how to improve cities. Our best cities are places where citizens can interact with one another, overcoming social, economic, and environmental evolutions and revolutions. I never cease to be fascinated with the key to these everlasting cities.

Conrad's book list on the exciting life of cities

Conrad Kickert Why did Conrad love this book?

Key to understanding cities is also to know how people experience them. Thousands of miles away but only a few years after Jacobs’ manifesto, Danish architect and urban designer Jan Gehl fascinatingly describes how people experience and behave in cities. We can use Gehl’s psychological and experiential lens to improve our urban environment, not designing buildings and cities just to appease other designers, politicians, or developers, but to real end users. Gehl’s original work has been translated into dozens of languages and expanded into one of the world’s foremost urban design firms. As an urban designer and researcher, Gehl’s book reminds me every day to focus first on people, then on space, and only then on buildings. 

By Jan Gehl,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first Danish language version of this book, published in 1971, was very much a protest against the functionalistic principles for planning cities and residential areas that prevailed during that period. The book carried an appeal to show concern for the people who were to move about between buildings, and it urged an understanding of the subtle, almost indefinable - but definite - qualities, which have always related to the interaction of people in public spaces, and it pointed to the life between buildings as a dimension of architecture that needs to be carefully treated. Now 40 years later, many…


Book cover of Cradle of Gold: The Story of Hiram Bingham, a Real-Life Indiana Jones, and the Search for Machu Picchu

Roger Atwood Author Of Stealing History: Tomb Raiders, Smugglers, and the Looting of the Ancient World

From my list on the looting of the Ancient World.

Who am I?

I’m a journalist, critic, and poet who has spent a career engaging with the world. I love telling stories, and I strive to put beauty and tension into everything I write. I’ve had great editors – they’ve published my work in The Guardian, National Geographic, ARTnews, The Washington Post, The Times Literary Supplement, and Archaeology, where I am a contributing editor, and many other places – but it always comes down to me and my computer. And often a plane ticket and a suitcase. 

Roger's book list on the looting of the Ancient World

Roger Atwood Why did Roger love this book?

The American explorer Hiram Bingham “discovered” the abandoned Inca resort of Machu Picchu in 1911 (in fact a local indigenous farmer led him to the ruins). He took home human bones and artifacts which Peru has been demanding back ever since, but to look at this story as simply a tale of colonialist exploitation would do it a disservice. Bingham was a colorful, big-hearted character who understood the importance of what he had found. The author captures his life and complicated legacy with grace and erudition, compellingly situating him in the Inca revivalist milieu of early twentieth century Cuzco. Anyone travelling to Peru should read it.  

By Christopher Heaney,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1911, a young Peruvian boy led an American explorer and Yale historian named Hiram Bingham into the ancient Incan citadel of Machu Picchu. Hidden amidst the breathtaking heights of the Andes, this settlement of temples, tombs and palaces was the Incas' greatest achievement. Tall, handsome, and sure of his destiny, Bingham believed that Machu Picchu was the Incas' final refuge, where they fled the Spanish Conquistadors. Bingham made Machu Picchu famous, and his dispatches from the jungle cast him as the swashbuckling hero romanticized today as a true Indiana Jones-like character. But his excavation of the site raised old…


Book cover of Home: A Short History of an Idea

Sally Stone Author Of Inside Information: The Defining Concepts of Interior Design

From my list on the future of the interior.

Who am I?

For more than thirty years I have been discussing, formulating ideas, and writing about Architecture, Building Reuse, and Interiors. I lead the MA Architecture and Adaptive Reuse programme and direct graduate atelier Continuity in Architecture at the Manchester School of Architecture. I am currently the Visiting Professor at the University IUAV of Venice where I am conducting research on the sustainable adaptation of existing buildings with particular emphasis on the environmental concerns within the inherently fragile city of Venice.

Sally's book list on the future of the interior

Sally Stone Why did Sally love this book?

Home discusses the complex series of factors that have generated the house as we understand it today. The chapters can be read independently as discussions on, for example, the evolution of comfort or the organisation of the different spaces. However, the book also builds into a fascinating argument for revisiting some of the pre-modern ideas of communal living, shared spaces, and live-work relationships. 

By Witold Rybczynski,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Walk through five centuries of homes both great and small from the smoke-filled manor halls of the Middle Ages to today's Ralph Lauren-designed environments on a house tour like no other, one that delightfully explicates the very idea of "home."

You'll see how social and cultural changes influenced styles of decoration and furnishing, learn the connection between wall-hung religious tapestries and wall-to-wall carpeting, discover how some of our most welcome luxuries were born of architectural necessity, and much more. Most of all, Home opens a rare window into our private lives and how we really want to live.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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