2017 Preservation-Themed Reading List

I’ll be upfront and say, I generally gravitate towards fiction (I’m currently reading this with my bookclub and my favorite book last year was definitely this one). I like to always have a architecture or preservation book on the back burner, but I take my time with them. Recently, however, I’ve found myself excited by multiple nonfiction books that have a preservation theme. Is it just me, or did the preservation world really step up their game at the end of 2016?

Below, four books that I can’t get enough of this winter. What’s on your list?


  1. The Hour of Land by Terry Tempest Williams. “What will be needed most in the future will be one more wild lake, not one more historic cabin.” – Lawrence S. Rockefeller. Think about that for a moment! This book is a thought-provoking page turner set in our National Parks.
  2. The Art of Relevance by Nina Simon. Relevance is, or should be, the backbone of historic preservation. Nina Simon writes the blog Museum 2.0, previously wrote The Participatory Museum,  and was a captivating speaker at the Past Forward conference last November. Want to get inspired? You can watch her TedX talk here.
  3. The Past and Future City by Stephanie Meeks. Circling back to relevance, Stephanie Meeks (President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation) explores the role of preservation in urban spaces. Preservation is no longer just the old manor on the hill (sorry George Washington).
  4. A Field Guide to American Houses by Virginia McAlester. In architectural historian circles, we refer to McAlester so often you might think we all had a friend in common. This new edition is worth a look even if you aren’t an architectural historian. I learn something new every time I open this volume, and it has been updated through the millennium. So if you’d been reading McMansion Hell like I have (thanks, Roman Mars), you can get another perspective on the many directions architecture has taken since Midcentury Modern.

“You don’t have to be a professional to be excited about culture.” – Nina Simon



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