Historic Preservation, Monday Musings, Recommended Readings
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Think before you speak. Read before you think

Beach Reading

Author Fran Lebowitz once wrote, “Think before you speak.  Read before you think.”

I’ve been thinking about reading recently, because I will be out of the office as I complete the final two weeks of my sabbatical and link that with some personal days off.

I have the opinion that summer reading lists should be light, but that may simply be an excuse to read another baseball book.  Since this time is tied to my sabbatical, I’m going a bit more serious this August and I thought I’d share a few of the books which will be on night stand.

(Regular readers can expect “mini reviews” in the coming weeks.)

Bending the Future
Bending the Future

Bending the Future:  50 Ideas for the Next 50 Years of Historic Preservation in the United States (Edited by Max Page and Marla R. Miller) – This brand new work from the University of Massachusetts Press contains a wonderful introductory essay and then 50 short contributions from practitioners, academicians, journalists, community activists and more.

I’m looking forward to digging into this work as one more way of scanning the current thinking about preservation’s future. (Full disclosure:  NTHP colleagues Stephanie Meeks, Tom Mayes, and Susan West Montgomery joined me as contributors to this book.)

Tabula Plena
Tabula Plena

Tabula Plena:  Forms of Urban Preservation (Edited by Bryony Roberts) – I met Bryony at the American Academy in Rome during the first part of my sabbatical, as she was the Rome Prize winner for 2016 in Historic Preservation.  In this new work from Lars Müller Publishers, Bryony and a group of authors consider – in contrast to tabula rosa urbanism – “the possibilities of tabula plena – urban sites that are full of existing buildings, systems, and activities that have accumulated over time….The transformation of existing buildings conserves resources while opening up possibilities for design through collaborative authorship and interlocking architectural forms.”  Her shop talk at the AAR on this work certainly whetted my appetite for this book.

After listening to my brown bag lunch talk at work about my time at the American Academy, a colleague  – who is currently on her own sabbatical in her native Croatia – sent me a copy of The Other Venice: Secrets of the City by Predrag Matvejević, a “writer of the world.”  I’m very much looking forward to seeing this wonderful city through different eyes.  And finally, another colleague loaned me one of her copies of Edward O. Wilson’s Consilience:  The Unity of Knowledge (her “hands-down favorite book”) after reading one of my regular Monday email musings to our staff.  She thought I would enjoy this work on uniting the knowledge of the sciences with the humanities. I have a few other books to consider as well, such as All the Light We Cannot See (by Rome Prize winner Anthony Doerr – see a pattern here?).  It promises to be a stimulating August in many ways.  Perhaps you’ll find something that piques your interest.  I would like to know what books you’ve found worth reading this summer.

And by the way, Fran Lebowitz also said, “In real life, I assure you, there is no such thing as algebra.”  Whether true or not, I find that a comforting thought.

More to come…


Image: Beach reading by Claire Brown


I am David J. Brown (hence the DJB) and I originally created this personal blog more than ten years ago as a way to capture photos and memories from a family vacation. After the trip was over I simply continued writing. Over the years the blog has changed to have a more definite focus aligned with my interest in places that matter, reading well, roots music, and more. My professional background is as a national nonprofit leader with a four-decade record of growing and strengthening organizations at local, state, and national levels. This work has been driven by my passion for connecting people in thriving, sustainable, and vibrant communities.

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