A Field Guide to American Houses, by Virginia and Lee McAlester.
New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006.
525 pps., including index.
Virginia and Lee McAlester succeed admirably well in this volume at what they have set out to do. A Field Guide to American Houses is a treasure trove of black-and-white line drawings and photographs designed to help the reader identify houses commonly found in the United States. I became interested in architectural styles in the course of planning renovations of my own one and a half storied front gabled craftsman with a centered side dormer and eyebrow. I was also able to identify a friend's home as Germanic Gothic, the Victorian stick down the street, and the Sears bungalow around the corner.
Through A Field Guide to American Houses, I learned quickly to study houses in a new way. The text is readable and the book is sensibly divided into sections based on a timeline of building styles. Highly recommended for anyone with a serious interest in the guts of houses. The forty dollar price tag may be out of reach for some; however the atmosphere of many of today's bookstores allows for reading and study without purchase. I have spent a week of Sundays doing just that with this book. I found out just today that I am getting this book for Yule as a present from my honey. Hooray for me!