Build a Better World: Adult Summer Reading List

Staff PicksWoodridge Library

Build a Better World: Adult Summer Reading List

In Partnership with the National Building Museum

This summer, DC Public Library has teamed up with the National Building Museum to create reading lists that connect our summer reading theme, "Build a Better World", to their mission to advance the quality of the built environment by educating people about its impact on their lives.

Inspired by the Museum's exhibitions and collections, selected books complement the stories they tell about architecture, engineering, and design.

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman
A study of what would happen to Earth if human presence was removed examines our legacy for the planet, from the objects that would vanish without human intervention to those that would become long-lasting remnants of humankind.

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the America City by Matthew Desmond
Winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, Matthew Desmond reports on his study of eight families living in the poorest area of Milwaukee from 2008-2009. Using both data and narrative personal reflections, Desmond peels back the complexities and desolate decisions that force landlords to evict and that trap residents in cycles of financial ruin.

Death and Life of American Cities by Jane Jacobs
Jane Jacobs guides the readers to consider the effects of urban planning on community development. Jacobs explores what makes one city "good" and another city "bad" by looking at the foundational elements like sidewalks, parks, and blocks, and how those foundations build or break a city.

New Aging: Live Smarter to Live Better Forever by Matthias Hollwich
Architect Matthias Hollwich has thoroughly researched how our spaces and communities shape our life experiences as we age. This bright and aesthetically pleasing guide is neatly divided into categories like “Be Social” or “You Are What You Eat” that will make you rethink the taboo topic of aging.

The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton
A study of architecture examines how we both shape and are shaped by our private homes and public edifices and explains how our stylistic choices can be used to increase our chances of happiness.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
In the year 2044, life is lived in an online utopia known as the OASIS. When the creator of OASIS dies, he leaves clues buried in riddles and puzzles for the ultimate fan to find and win ownership of this world. Wade is a teenage master player who is looking for truth, belonging, and maybe a way to save the world.

For additional reading:


Visit HIVE in the National Building Museum's Great Hall. Designed by Studio Gang, the installation is part of the annual Summer Block Party series, July 6 - September 4.

DC Public Library will also be offering storytimes and mobile check out at that National Building Museum on Ward Days.
D.C. residents are invited to visit the Museum exhibitions, including Hive, with complimentary admission from 9-11 a.m. on their specific Ward Days.

Find "Build a Better World" reading lists for teensupper elementary, and early elementary children.