Writing About Place: A Reading List

Books

January 24, 2012, Washington, DC: And then it was everywhere. In every book I opened, every conversation I overheard, every article I read. People were curious about why those around them gravitate to the places they do. Suddenly it was clear I’d been pursuing this independent study for years. While packing and unpacking boxes. While working as a trip leader for a travel company. While studying the sociology and history of cities like New York. While writing essays about my neighborhood from Royal Ground Coffee on Polk Street. Over time, the books piled up, reflective of this narrative I was stringing together. They were reflective of my story.

Lens tightly focused on one subject, the proof bubbles up everywhere. To remind you that it’s a worthy exploration. That it’s a good use of time. That these are good questions.

Read on for my suggested reading list on the power of place and add your suggestions in the comments after the jump.

Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States
by Kenneth T. Jackson

The Architecture of Happiness
by Alain de Botton

Katharine Graham’s Washington
An anthology by Katharine Graham

A Good Place to Live: America’s Last Migration
by Terry Pindell

Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way
by Dan Buettner

For The Love of Cities: The Love Affair Between People and Their Places
by Peter Kageyama

The Death and Life of Great American Cities
by Jane Jacobs

Spirit of Place: Letters and Essays on Travel
by Lawrence Durrell and Alan Thomas

Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier
by Edward Glaeser

The Rise of the Creative Class: And How It’s Transforming Work, Leisure, Community, and Everyday Life
by Richard Florida

Outside 25: Classic Tales and New Voices from the Frontiers of Adventure
by the editors of Outside Magazine

The course continues. Share your favorite books about the power of place in the comments below.

10 thoughts on “Writing About Place: A Reading List

  1. Hi Nomad! Thanks for including me on your list – that is some pretty good company. Might I also suggest the work of Charles Landry, particularly The Creative City and The Art of City Making.

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  4. Updates from 4/3/13…

    301 East Capitol: Tales from the Heart of the Hill
    by Mary Z. Gray

    The Things That Matter
    by Nate Berkus

    “Breaking the Ice”
    by Pam Houston

    Fresh American Spaces
    by Annie Selke

    “Twitter is My City”
    an interview with Ai Weiwei, in Foreign Policy

    Ch. 7: Urban Friction, from Imagine: How Creativity Works
    by Jonah Lehrer

    “The Art of Bringing Hotel Design Home”
    by Peter Jon Lindberg, in Travel and Leisure

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  6. Updates, 1/22/14:

    “How Hipsters Ruined Paris,” Thomas Chatterton Williams, an opinion piece for the New York Times

    “Building A Better City,” New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman

    “March of the Millenials,” a series for the Washington Post

    “The Real Washington: Our Town versus ‘This Town’, a Washington Post photo gallery

    “The Two Sides of Washington, DC,” Clinton Yates, Washington Post

    “Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time” by Jeff Speck

    “Twenty Minutes in Manhattan,” by Michael Sorkin

    “The Caliph’s House, A Year in Casablanca” by Tahir Shah

    “A Place Called Home,” by Jason Grant

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