What We're Reading January 2015: Recommended Reads from the Staff of PVN

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Manhattan Atmospheres: Architecture, the Interior Environment, and Urban Crisis, David Gissen (University of Minnesota Press, 2013). 

Drawing on the theoretical concepts of assemblages and socio-natures, David Gissen uses a number of important case studies to reflect transformations in New York City’s urban environment, focusing squarely on shifts in power during the city’s post-industrial context. By mixing architecture with geography, his keen eye makes a convincing, innovative argument about the importance of ‘maintenance.’ 

— Julie Sze, author of Noxious New York: The Racial Politics of Urban Health and Environmental Justice

Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality, Jacob Tomsk (Anchor, 2013).

In the tradition of Kitchen Confidential and Waiter Rant, a rollicking, eye-opening, fantastically indiscreet memoir of a life spent (and misspent) in the hotel industry.


The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Daniel James Brown (Penguin Books, 2014).

The #1 New York Times best-selling story about American Olympic triumph in Nazi Germany.




Angle of Repose, Wallace Stegner (Doubleday, 1971).

The winner of the 1972 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, this novel is about a wheelchair-using historian, Lyman Ward, who has lost connection with his son and living family and decides to write about his frontier-era grandparents. Angle of Repose is directly based on the letters of Mary Hallock Foote, later published as A Victorian Gentlewoman in the Far West.



Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Daniel Pink (Riverhead Books, 2011).

Most people believe that the best way to motivate is with rewards like money—the carrot-and-stick approach. That's a mistake, says the author. In this provocative and persuasive new book, he asserts that the secret to high performance and satisfaction-at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.


Casie M.:

Heritage Planning: Principles and Process, Harold Kalman (Routledge, 2014).

Heritage Planning: Principles and Process provides a comprehensive overview of heritage planning as an area of professional practice. The book first addresses the context and principles of heritage planning, including land-use law, planning practice, and international heritage doctrine, all set within the framework of larger societal issues such as sustainability and ethics. The book then takes readers through the pragmatic processes of heritage practice including collecting data, identifying community opinion, determining heritage significance, the best practices and methods of creating a conservation plan, and managing change.


The Hundred-Year House, Rebecca Makkai (Viking Adult, 2014).

The acclaimed author of The Borrower returns with a dazzlingly original, mordantly witty novel about the secrets of an old-money family and their turn-of-the-century estate, Laurelfield.





Building the Cold War: Hilton International Hotels and Modern Architecture, Annabel Jane Wharton (University of Chicago Press, 2004). 

Building the Cold War examines the architectural means by which the Hilton hotel was written into the urban topographies of the major cities of Europe and the Middle East as an effective representation of the United States. 




Saint John's Abbey Church: Marcel Breuer and the Creation of a Modern Sacred Space, Victoria M. Young (University of Minnesota Press, 2014).

Saint John’s Abbey Church documents the dialogue of the design process, as Breuer instructed the monks about architecture and they in turn guided him and his associates in the construction of a sacred space in the crucial years of liturgical reform.


Cooperative Commonwealth: Co-Ops In Rural Minnesota 1859-1939, Steven J. Keillor (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2000). 

In this groundbreaking work, Keillor examines how rural Minnesotans used the principles of co-operation in their attempt to gain control of local economies and to exercise that control according to democratic principles.





Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain (Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, 2013).

A New York Times best-seller about a deliciously funny, delectably shocking banquet of wild-but-true tales of life in the culinary trade from Chef Anthony Bourdain. 



Casie R.:

Renovating Old Houses: Bringing New Life to Vintage Homes, George Nash (Taunton Press, 2003).

For those who love to live in old houses or want to invest in one, this completely revised and updated book levels no stone unturned. From evaluating a property to making foundation repairs to adding on a porch, it's a comprehensive guide to every aspect of making renovations and repairs--whether you already live in, or are contemplating buying, an older home.