100 books like The Architecture of Happiness

By Alain De Botton,

Here are 100 books that The Architecture of Happiness fans have personally recommended if you like The Architecture of Happiness. 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 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 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 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 Experiencing Architecture

Witold Rybczynski Author Of Charleston Fancy: Little Houses and Big Dreams in the Holy City

From my list on architecture for non-architects.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania. Although I’ve written more than twenty books on a variety of subjects, I was trained as an architect and I’ve designed and built houses, researched low cost housing, and taught budding architects for four decades. I was architecture critic for Wigwag and Slate and I’ve written for numerous national magazines and newspapers. Perhaps more important, my wife and I built our own house, mixing concrete, sawing wood, and hammering nails. I wrote a book about that, too.

Witold's book list on architecture for non-architects

Witold Rybczynski Why did Witold love this book?

Many books about architecture are like cookbooks, that is, they are written for the cook—the architect—and are concerned with how to make the stuff. But for the lay person, the joy of architecture lies in the actual experience of buildings; good architecture makes you feel good. This classic, written in 1962 by a wise old Dane, is a wonderful guide to the many sensory ways in which we experience buildings, old and new.

By Steen Eiler Rasmussen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A classic examination of superb design through the centuries.

Widely regarded as a classic in the field, Experiencing Architecture explores the history and promise of good design. Generously illustrated with historical examples of designing excellence—ranging from teacups, riding boots, and golf balls to the villas of Palladio and the fish-feeding pavilion of Beijing's Winter Palace—Rasmussen's accessible guide invites us to appreciate architecture not only as a profession, but as an art that shapes everyday experience.

In the past, Rasmussen argues, architecture was not just an individual pursuit, but a community undertaking. Dwellings were built with a natural feeling for place,…


Book cover of Hawksmoor

Andrew Martin Author Of The Necropolis Railway

From my list on historical fiction to make you think you’re there.

Why am I passionate about this?

Most of my novels are historical, and they include ten books set on the railways of the early 20th Century featuring Jim Stringer, a railway policeman. I am romantically drawn to that period: no mobile phones, no fluorescent light or man-made fibres – and plenty of smoke and steam available for atmospheric effects. If you really did travel back in time, you would think you were hallucinating, so I take a visual approach, providing a series of images that I hope are historically accurate whilst also having the force and originality of dream scenes. It seems to me that the writers on my list take a similar approach. 

Andrew's book list on historical fiction to make you think you’re there

Andrew Martin Why did Andrew love this book?

Hawksmoor is a tale of murder and ghostly happenings in some London churches. It’s set partly in the modern-day (or 1985, when it was published) and partly in the early 18th Century. The 18th Century language – making full use of the randomized capitalization favoured at the time – is amazingly vivid: "Mr. Vanbrugghe…blew into my Closet like a dry leaf in a Hurricanoe." Indeed, the modern-day scenes are deliberately slightly pallid in comparison with Ackroyd’s fever dream of the past. I have read this book three times, and it remains mysterious to me – which I mean as a compliment. 

By Peter Ackroyd,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'There is no Light without Darknesse
and no Substance without Shaddowe'

So proclaims Nicholas Dyer, assistant to Sir Christopher Wren and the man with a commission to build seven London churches to stand as beacons of the enlightenment. But Dyer plans to conceal a dark secret at the heart of each church - to create a forbidding architecture that will survive for eternity. Two hundred and fifty years later, London detective Nicholas Hawksmoor is investigating a series of gruesome murders on the sites of certain eighteenth-century churches - crimes that make no sense to the modern mind . . .…


Book cover of Frank Lloyd Wright and Japan: The Role of Traditional Japanese Art and Architecture in the Work of Frank Lloyd Wright

Simon Unwin Author Of Analysing Architecture: the Universal Language of Place-Making

From my list on traditional architecture and its contemporary practice.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a student fifty years ago I struggled with architecture. I have spent my whole career as an architect and teacher trying to understand how it works. All my books are intended to convey that understanding to others as clearly as I can. I believe that architecture is a universal language of place-making, simply and directly expressed in the traditional architectures of different cultures around the world, and lifted into the realms of poetry by some gifted individuals. For many years I taught at the Welsh School of Architecture in Cardiff, Wales. I am currently Professor Emeritus at The University of Dundee in Scotland. 

Simon's book list on traditional architecture and its contemporary practice

Simon Unwin Why did Simon love this book?

All of my recommendations are about the ways modern architects have learnt from traditional architecture. The first appeared when I began working on the first edition of Analysing Architecture back in the 1990s. It is Kevin Nute’s exploration of the ideas that Frank Lloyd Wright gleaned from encounters with traditional Japanese architecture in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Nute’s book influenced my perception of architectural creativity as not fitting neatly into separate historical/stylistic categories, but as a realm of possible cross-fertilisation across cultures.

By Kevin Nute,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Frank Lloyd Wright and Japan as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book is the first thorough account of Frank Lloyd Wright's relationship with Japan and its arts. It presents significant new information on the nature and extent of Wright's formal and philosophical debt to Japanese art and architecture.

Eight primary channels of influence are examined in detail, from Japanese prints to specific individuals and publications, and the evidence of their impact on Wright is illustrated through a mixture of textual and drawn analyses.


Book cover of The Artless Word: Mies van der Rohe on the Building Art

Simon Unwin Author Of Analysing Architecture: the Universal Language of Place-Making

From my list on traditional architecture and its contemporary practice.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a student fifty years ago I struggled with architecture. I have spent my whole career as an architect and teacher trying to understand how it works. All my books are intended to convey that understanding to others as clearly as I can. I believe that architecture is a universal language of place-making, simply and directly expressed in the traditional architectures of different cultures around the world, and lifted into the realms of poetry by some gifted individuals. For many years I taught at the Welsh School of Architecture in Cardiff, Wales. I am currently Professor Emeritus at The University of Dundee in Scotland. 

Simon's book list on traditional architecture and its contemporary practice

Simon Unwin Why did Simon love this book?

Two of the biggest names in twentieth-century architecture. Thoroughly researched, Neumeyer’s book explores the thought processes of the first, the generally taciturn German architect Mies van der Rohe. It includes a discussion of his fascination with traditional African architecture and its clear relationship between form and the constructional potential of specific materials (timber, grass, stone, rope, mud…) which of course translates into Mies’s own work with modern materials (welded steel and plate glass). But there is a lot more to this book than that; too much to cover here.

By Fritz Neumeyer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German


Book cover of Architecture: An Introduction

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 one of the best introductions to architecture out there. It talks about buildings and the profession, and introduces users to key ideas and concepts in architecture history and theory. It’s an overall primer for anyone interested in discipline. Oh, and it’s a beautiful book, too, with stunning examples of projects that will hook any novice on the architecture field at large.

By Geoffrey Makstutis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book offers a thorough introduction to the entire field of architecture, outlining the steps that are normally taken in becoming a qualified architect, from initial education right through to professional practice, as well as how to apply this architectural training in other fields.

Complete with feature spreads on individual projects, Architecture: An Introduction's broad, up-to-date approach unites history, theory and practice. Subjects covered include how to develop a brief with a client; taking an idea from brief to project; types of visual presentation including drawings, models and computer renderings; project planning and management; the diverse roles within a company;…


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…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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