Like a Rolling Stone: A Memoir by Jann S. Wenner

Jann Wenner is an unabashed fanboy (there is another word for this, and one that the ever candid Wenner might use himself) of musicians, actors, and Democratic politicians, and his memoir is filled with anecdotes of the rich and famous, along with tales of editing the magazine he co-founded and his fizzled efforts to build a durable publishing empire. Come for the tales of Mick and Bruce and Bono, but stay for the tender and surprisingly moving stories about his family and his decision in 1994 to leave his wife and three sons to partner with the much younger Matt Nye. His account of falling in love with Nye, the concerns he had for the impact on his wife, and how he ended up blending his two families the best he could (he and Matt have two kids of their own) is the beating heart of this memoir and worth the price of admission.

If Walls Could Speak: My Life in Architecture by Moshe Safdie

Who knew that one of the world’s premier architects could possess such an engaging and warm voice as he recounts his life and explains what he tries to achieve in his work? Moshe Safdie, born in Haifa, Israel, 84 years ago, studied at McGill University, and it is there in Montreal that he designed perhaps his best-known work, the housing complex known as Habitat 67, built as part of the city’s Expo 67.

Safdie, who continues to work from his offices in Somerville, Massachusetts, has designed many other well-known buildings, including Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum, but so much of his work continues to reflect the vision that inspired Habitat 67, which in turn was shaped by the homes he knew best in Haifa, especially his aunt’s villa. “The ideal home, I concluded, must have its own territory—well defined and private, even if it is small,” he writes in If Walls Could Speak. “It must always have a garden or a courtyard, or some other form of outdoor space—a transition zone, making a connection between the sheltered world indoors and the natural world outdoors. If possible, the home would have a view of some kind. It doesn’t have to be the Amalfi Coast or the Grand Tetons—it can be a bit of countryside, or a few trees, or the rush of water, or even nearby buildings if they are the right kind of structures.”

It is a measure of Safdie’s humanity that everything he designs puts his concern for the user above all other considerations, and the book’s photographs do full justice to his work.

Nineteen Reservoirs: On Their Creation and the Promise of Water for New York City by Lucy Sante

New York City would not exist today without its upstate reservoir system, but its creation, starting in 1907, meant the destruction of 26 villages and the surrounding forests and farmlands. Lucy Sante’s book is both an ode to a lost world and a celebration of an achievement that is a marvel of engineering. The conflict between urban and rural, rich and poor, is poignant without becoming melodramatic, a tribute to Sante’s fine prose, archival pictures, and the present-day photos taken by Tim Davis. The publisher also deserves credit for producing such a beautiful and well-designed volume.

Like a Rolling Stone and Nineteen Reservoirs are available at your local independent bookstore, on Bookshop, and on Amazon. If Walls Could Speak will be available beginning September 20