Books to give to your architect friends or reading lover friends at Christmas

Seven literary masterpieces focused on Architecture.

Christmas is coming up soon and, as always, everyone is now wondering what the perfect Christmas gift could be and to whom give it. If one of your friends is an architect or a reading lover, this list will be useful to find the perfect gift to make them happy. We made a selection of books on Architecture or that deal with this topic in an all-round way.
There is a variety of possibilities to choose from: some books have an essayistic or oneiric approach, while others are crime or adventure novels.

Here it is our suggestions:

1 - ‘L’architettura della città’ (The City’s Architecture) by Aldo Rossi This book explores the city as a complex organism, dealing with the past, the present and the future of cities from the perspective of architectural aspects. Architecture becomes a collective act, in which two human urgencies are combined: the aesthetic intentionality and the necessity to build a favourable environment for the life of the community.

2 - ‘Il libro delle case’ (The Book of Houses) by Andrea Bajani
How Andrea Bajani writes... He writes with a sharp and poetic language, which envelops the reader in the flow of memories and snapshots but particularly in walls, doors and window from which pieces of sky and wind, rain and life open up.
‘Il libro delle case’ is not only an emotional map of the spaces in which the main character ‘Io’ lived in, but it is also - and I would say above all - a novel about loneliness, a loneliness that grows page after page, room after room, house after house; houses that narrate sorrow and happiness tales, narrate of victories and defeats, of smiles and farewells.
How much do the houses we live in or have lived in say about us? If we could see them from above, if we could see that tortoise shell towering over us, would we even recognise ourselves all caught up in our own dumps? Maybe we will never know or maybe we could write about it as Bajani does: the beauty of this book lies in the possibility of living again those unrepeatable fragments that would otherwise remain forever behind locked doors.

3 - ‘La forma dell’acqua’ (The Shape of Water) by Andrea Camilleri
It is a captivating crime novel which follows the investigations of Commissioner Montalbano. Montalbano deals with an intricate case involving a series of murders in a quiet coastal town. A crime novel in which the investigator is an architect: criminal plots and considerations about architecture are combined.

4 - ’Delirious New York’ by Rem Koolhaas
An architectural theoretical essay exploring the architectural imaginary of New York City, analysing the city’s role as a space of creativity and invention, explaining the reasons why an almost unplanned city has shaped our contemporaneity, where the Architects of the modern movement with their metropolitan utopias had failed. The book describes the urban planning programme of the great American metropolis, so outrageous that it had to survive and spread out without any official communication to be realised.

5 - ‘Le città invisibili’ (The Invisible Cities) by Italo Calvino
It consists in a series of travel reports made by Marco Polo to the Emperor of Tartars: Kublai Kan. Marco Polo is mainly interested in discovering the secret reasons behind the decision of men to live in cities. Cities are a combination of many things: memories, desires, signs of a language. Cities are exchange places: exchanges of goods, certainly, but mostly exchanges of words, desires and memories. Let yourself be involved in imaginary and fantastic cities; this work will indubitably lead you to reflect on the architectural design.

6 - ‘I pilastri della Terra’ (The Pillars of the Earth) by Ken Follett
An historical novel that deals with the construction of a 12th century Cathedral, involving many characters, including the Architect himself. The book can be seen under many perspectives: mystery, love story or as a great historical re-enactment. Ken Follet achieves an epic dimension, taking us back to medieval England when a gothic Cathedral was being built, full of plots, actions, famines and threats.

7 - "S, M, L, XL" by Rem Koolhaas e Bruce Mau
A monographic book about Rem Koolhaas who presents different projects, essays and thoughts on his personal approach to architecture, design and urbanism. This biblical-proportion book highlights the condition of the current architecture, its magnificence and miseries, disclosing the corrosive impact of politics, environment, economy, globalisation, and of the world on architecture.

Choosing one of those books will make your present even more meaningful and appreciated by those who loves the theme of architecture seen from an all-round perspective.

Happy gift-giving and especially happy reading!

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