A bibliography of sources which have informed this work.


While there are many more books which have provided insights, this list (always being updated) is our best of the books list

Books on Cultural Geography

Space and Place, the Perspective of Experience, by Yi Fu Tuan, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1977

The most influential cultural geographer of our time, in his highly academic and abstract musings on the experience of place.

Topophilia: A Study of Environmental Perception, Attitudes, and Values, by Yi Fu Tuan, Columbia University Press, New York, 1974

Again, academic and abstract, this is a wide-ranging collection of reflections on feelings about places. These two books are regarded as having changed the way places are addressed in cultural geography.

The Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard, Beacon Press, 1994.

First published in French in 1958, this Phenomenological Philosophy looks at everything that shapes our perceptions of shelter and how that in turn shapes our thoughts, memories and dreams.

Textures of Place: Exploring Humanist Geographies, edited by Paul Adams, Steven Hoelscher, and Karen E. Till, University of Minnesota Press, 2001

Dedicated to Yi Fu Tuan, this collection of essays shows the range of interest in places in contemporary cultural geography. Not a practical or how-to book, but reflective and interesting.

Senses of Place, edited by Steven Feld and Keith H. Basso, School of American Research Press, Santa Fe, 1996

Academic and abstract, a book that will interest those who have a deep intellectual focus on qualities of place.

The Power of Place: How our Surroundings Shape our Thoughts, Emotions, and Actions, by Winifred Gallagher, HarperPerennial, 1994

This book is included here because it draws on so much research, but Gallagher is a journalist and these essays reflect on questions such as why we might prefer the city or the country, how some urban settings increase crime, and why we feel better after an experience in nature. Entertaining and richly thoughtful.

The Experience of Place, by Tony Hiss, Vintage Books, 1990.

This book draws on the author’s experience of place, and inadvertent changes in the local environment which changes the experience of place completely. He argues for more careful understanding of the impact of changes so that they will improve and not diminish places.

Books focusing on Urbanism, Architecture and Planning

Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream, by Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck, North Point Press, New York, 2000

This is the seminal book on the New Urbanist approach to architecture and planning, and it is the bible of the anti-sprawl movement in the United States. Essential reading.

The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America’s Man-Made Landscape, by James Howard Kuntsler, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1993

The author traces the history of the built environment from a nation of main streets and communities to auto centered wasteland and declares that if we want to create a more civic society, we need to begin train our focus on creating better places.

Home from Nowhere: Remaking Our Everyday World for the 21st Century, by James Howard Kuntsler, Simon and Schuster, 1996

Kuntsler is a passionate advocate of the anti-sprawl movement, acidic and contentious and usually right. If the arrogance of the New Urbanists bothers you, Kuntsler will infuriate you, but the challenge he offers to the status quo is powerful and his concepts of what might be are deeply rooted and realistic.

The Trouble with City Planning: What New Orleans Can Teach Us, by Kristina Ford, Yale University Press, 2010.

A former City Planner in New Orleans, Kristina Ford, returns to New Orleans after Katrina to help the city and this book takes the reader through the recovery starts and stops through the eyes of a city planner.

Placeways: A Theory of the Human Environment, by E.V. Walter, University of North Carolina Press, 1988.

Looking back thousands of years, Walter examines human settlements, what makes them “dead places” and how to recover the experience of place as a whole

The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs, A Vintage Book, 1961.

This book is so foundational to the understanding of how urbanism works “on the street” that it is often mentioned in any conversation about improving place. If you don’t know this work you may be disadvantaged in further reading, it is that central.

Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier and Happier, by Edward Glaeser, MacMillian, 2011.

An urban economists, Glaeser debunks the bad rap cities get and instead makes an historic and contemporary assessment of why cities are the best hope for the future.

Walkable City; How Downtown Can Save America One Step at a Time, by Jeff Speck, North Point Press, 2012.

The author is a keen observer of cities and his key premise is that walkability creates thriving cities.

A Pattern Language, by Christopher Alexander, Oxford University Press, 1977.

There are a number of works by Christopher Alexander, a scientist, architect, systems thinker,  which over his long career have been foundational in changing how we think about what works to in supporting the development of beautiful places and the whole person. His books include: The Timeless Way of Building, The Nature of Order, The Battle for the Life and Beauty of the Earth: A Struggle Between Two World-Systems, The Oregon Experiment, Notes on the Synthesis of Form, The Production of Houses, A New Theory of Urban Design.

Books on Natural Places

The Language of Landscape, by Anne Whiston Spirn, Yale University Press, 1998.

This is a superb book on landscape and how it must be understood to build sustainable places and how to “read” them, and she mean how to understand landscape as a language intricately bound to humans.

The Granite Garden, by Anne Whiston Spirn, Perseus Publishing, 1984.

This book looks at the natural settings of cities and how understanding this can create healthier and better urban environments.

Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update, by Donella H. Meadows, Jorgen Randers, Dennis Meadows, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2004.

In 1972, three scientists from MIT created a computer model to analyze global resource consumption and production and the carrying capacity of the planet and the environmental scientists in this book update the work with ways to reduce inefficiency and waste and reasons why this is critical.

The Digital Age

The Rise of the Network Society; End of Millennium, The Power of Identity, by Manuel Castells, Blackwell Publishing, (updated 2006).

These three volumes are incredibly complete surveys of how the digital age is sweeping across the world, and what is accompanying that deep change.

The Experience Economy, by James H. Gilmore and B. Joseph Pine, II, Harvard Business School Press, 1999.

This book is fundamental to understanding the new economy and how to compete in it.

Authenticity, by James H. Gilmore and B. Joseph Pine, II, Harvard Business School Press, 2007.

This follow on work (the authors wrote the run-away success The Experience Economy)  is a complex look at how to create and communicate an authentic product which is distinctive and desirable by today’s consumers.

Systems and Systems Change

A New Kind of Science, Steve Wolfram, Wolfram Media, 2002.

The author is on the frontier of complexity science, and through his privately funded research has created a new way to look the patterns in nature as coming from simple programs.

The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization, Peter M. Senge, 2006.

This system thinker has focused on how to get an organization to aspire to higher functioning in a system.

The Innovator’s Dilemma, by Clayton M. Christensen, HarperBusiness, 2011.

Focusing on “disruptive technology,” Christensen shows why most companies miss out on innovation.

Thinking in Systems: A Primer, by Donella H. Meadows and Diana Wright, Sustainability Institute, 2008.

This is a book about problem solving from the personal to the global and she shows how some of the biggest problems in the world are in fact systems failures which cannot be solved by fixing pieces in isolation.

Understanding Humans (in our collective enterprise)

Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, by Robert Putnam, Simon & Schuster, 2001.

Drawing on vast data, this is about the changing behavior of Americans, how they are disconnected from social structures and one another, and the havoc this creates in our society.

Cognitive Surplus, by Clay Shirky, The Penguin Press, 2010.

This is a book which discusses the increasing available time that people in modern society have and the inclination to put that time to social good.

Now You See It: How the Brain Science Of Attention Will Transform The Way We Live, Work, And Learn, by Cathy N. Davidson, Viking, 2011.

This book is a fascinating look at how our brains work (or more importantly fail to work) and how to overcome these circumstances in learning and working together.

inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity, by Tina Seelig, Harper Collins, 2012.

This is a book about the d School at Stanford, and how creativity is all around, teachable (but the environment helps a lot).

Imagine: How Creativity Works, by Jonah Lehrer, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012.

This book was taken off the market by its publisher for inaccurate quotes by Bob Dillon among other reasons, but it remains a very strong reference on the creative process.

Math and the Mona Lisa, by Bulent Atalay, Smithsonian Books, 2004.

A far ranging book which examines the confluence of Science and Art in the person of Leonardo da Vinci.

The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest, by Dan Buettner, National Geographic, 2010.

This book surveys five different places in the world with high percentages of centenarians who are healthy: where community, lifestyle and spirituality held the key to long lives well lived.

Travel and Tourism

Civic Tourism: The Poetry and Politics of Placeby Dan Shilling, Sharlot Hall Museum Press, 2007

This book addresses broadening tourism planning to community planning and place-making. A powerful and practical approach to civic participation.

Sacred Places: American Tourist Attractions in the Nineteenth Century, by John Sears, Oxford University Press, New York and Oxford, 1989

In the nineteenth century, when America was relatively new and tourism even newer, the places visitors loved were the subject of great paintings and were described by major writers. They mixed the sacred and the profane, the mythic and the trivial, the spiritual and the commercial. Includes a chapter on Mauch Chunk (now Jim Thorpe) as an industrial tourist attraction.

Geotourism, by Ross Dowling and David Newsome, Elsevier, Butterworth,and Heinemann, New York, 2006

This collection of essays focuses tightly on the role of geographic tourism attractions. It does not consistently use the broad definition of geotourism that National Geographic has promulgated, and in fact is mostly concerned with visits to geographic features such as the Grand Canyon. It is not a practical, how-to book, but it is thought provoking for those who are concerned with tourism to natural features of the landscape.

On the Beaten Track, Tourism, Art, and Place, by Lucy R. Lippard, The New Press, New York, 1999.

With chapter titles like “Rubbernecking” and “Exhibitionism,” this series of essays reflecting on the things we all think about and then pass over may help tourism developers and marketers to keep their focus where it needs to be—on authenticity as well as on commerce. But Lippard is no cultural or environmental snob.

The Lure of the Local: Senses of Place in a Multicentered Society, by Lucy R. Lippard, The New Press, New York, 1997

This book is about community art (and Lippard is first and foremost an art critic) but it touches on planning, women’s studies, geography, land use, and perceptions of nature, among many other subjects. Fun and inspiring.

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