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A Place of My Own: The Architecture of Daydreams

A Place of My Own: The Architecture of Daydreams

Written by Michael Pollan

Narrated by Michael Pollan


A Place of My Own: The Architecture of Daydreams

Written by Michael Pollan

Narrated by Michael Pollan

ratings:
4.5/5 (42 ratings)
Length:
9 hours
Released:
Aug 15, 2010
ISBN:
9781441836878
Format:
Audiobook

Description

Michael Pollan's unmatched ability to draw lines of connection between our everyday experiences-whether eating, gardening, or building-and the natural world has been the basis for the popular success of his many works of nonfiction, including the genre-defining bestsellers, The Botany of Desire, The Omnivore's Dilemma, and In Defense of Food. With this updated edition of his earlier book A Place of My Own, listeners can revisit the inspired, intelligent, and often hilarious story of Pollan's realization of a room of his own-a small, wooden hut, his "shelter for daydreams"-built with his admittedly unhandy hands. Inspired by both Thoreau and Mr. Blandings, A Place of My Own not only works to convey the history and meaning of all human building, it also marks the connections between our bodies, our minds, and the natural world.

"[A]n inspired meditation on the complex relationship between space, the human body, and the human spirit." -Francine du Plessix Gray

Released:
Aug 15, 2010
ISBN:
9781441836878
Format:
Audiobook

About the author

Michael Pollan is the author of two prize-winning books, SECOND NATURE and A PLACE OF MY OWN. A contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, Pollan was recently awarded the first Reuters-World Conservation Union Global Award for Excellence in Environmental Journalism. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and son.


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What people think about A Place of My Own

4.5
42 ratings / 9 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (3/5)
    Despite being a big fan of Transcendatalism in theory, I've struggled to read Walden and hoped this book would be my modern version. Perhaps more my fault than the author's, I was expecting a literal tale of building interwoven with a more general discourse on building and nature.

    There's certainly some of that present in this book, but there's also a lot of talk on architecture and its movement and meanings. A lot. I consider myself a bit of an information sponge and love learning about a variety of topics, but I found this very dry. I often wished the discussions of architecture included basic drawings the same way some of the construction detail sections do, so that perhaps I'd have some concrete idea what he was referring to. This is a very "writerly", head in the clouds, theoretical take on a subject, and for me it was just too abstract.

    Pollan is at his best in this book when describing people. He brings his carpenter and his architect to vivid life and imbues a real sense of humor into his work with, and challenge between, each of them. The segment about how all roads lead to gun control with carpenter Joe is without a doubt my favorite few pages in the book. The details of construction and his reverence for his materials are engaging and understandable, despite my lack of familiarity with the subject.

    All told, this is a well-written book that happened to miss the mark for me personally.
  • (5/5)
    I live the detailed description of what it takes to build a custom building. From architects, carpenters, to building inspectors. It takes a lot of work, money, time, and people to build a place of ones own.
  • (5/5)
    I first came across the work of Michael Pollan while a student at the Farm School, in the Fall of 2008. “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” was one of our assigned readings, and I remember reading this text late into the night up in my little loft in the dormitory. Pollan goes about his journalism with an often-comical amateurism (I regularly find myself laughing as I read his prose). And yet, with his Zen “beginner’s mind” and poetic attention to detail, as well as viscously restrained editing (all of his books span a tightly curated quiver of topics, and are never more than a few hundred pages in length), Pollan always manages to get to the depth at which true meaning can be created and explored.While reading Tedd Benson’s “Timberframe” I kept coming across quotes from a mysterious Pollan text: “A Place of My Own.” “But isn’t Pollan a food writer?” I thought to myself. My second book I read from Pollan was his recent text on psychedelics, “How to Change Your Mind.” I think of him as the foodie Berkeley type (I happen to have run into him last time I was at the Berkeley farmer’s market); what was he doing writing about architecture?It turns out that Pollan’s second book, published in 1997, reveals an entirely different man (or at least a man in an entirely different context) then we find him in today. Apparently Pollan, his wife, and son, spent quite some time (more than a decade) living in Northwestern Connecticut. Being a ruddy New Englander myself, this rather raises my regard of him (until I think remember that he, for some reason, still resides in Berkeley—even while supposedly teaching at Harvard).For a couple of years now, I’ve been daydreaming about building a sauna. Two winters ago I read a book on sauna construction. I live on land that is “in the family,” so to say, so I have enough trust in my tenure to consider building something. The place also is an open timber frame spanning three generations; so Pollan’s concept of “a place of my own” sounds extremely appealing.During this time of coronavirus, I feel both a strong sense of nostalgia, as well as a sense of somehow being outside of my life. Given this coincidence of sentiments, I’ve been gravitating towards books like this one, books that bring us into ourselves while bringing us in contact with the tangible, the commonplace.This is a book about Pollan going through the two-and-a-half-year-long process of building himself a writer’s cabin.From the beginning, Pollan goes about this in a very different way than I would. Pollan says the only thing his father ever built was a cedar closet, during the construction of which, he happened to nail his toolbox back behind the paneling. In contrast, my father timber-framed the house I grew up in, and I’ve spent much of my life in contact with one form or another of craft.So to come around to the first surprise: Pollan hired an architect to come up with a plan for his cabin! Although I intended to become an architect for some stretch of time in childhood (I still retain the graph-paper blueprints I made of glass dome houses), I’ve had effectively zero contact with them in my adult life. We recently constructed a substantial porch on my current home, and our contractor drew up the blueprint, not an architect. I can appreciate the importance of design process (I would consider myself a permaculturist), and I can see the ways that working with an architect enabled Pollan to achieve something he wouldn’t have been able to on his own.The next surprise: he hires a contractor to work with him! This also ends up being a wise decision for Pollan, as his contractor serves as a mentor.In the new foreword, composed in 2010, Pollan describes his journalism as muddling through the relationship between nature and culture. This is an intersection close to my heart. In this book, Pollan has somehow been able to explore the exceedingly obtuse history of architecture and private space in a text that is both tactile and accessible. With writing this good, I feel as though I could almost read anything Pollan decides to write about. He is likely the best non-fiction writer of which I’m aware.By no means is this book dated. In many ways, it speaks to more fundamental truths than his writing on food and psychedelics. If you’re looking for a meditative reflection on space, the built environment, and the way that this all relates to our humanity and sensory experience, this book will delight.
  • (4/5)
    A guy's book about the designing, planning and building of a single room cabin in the woods for the author to write and pursue his craft. Redundant in parts, but he brings to life the conflict between architect and builder. I give it 3 1/2 stars.
  • (4/5)
    Anyone who has liked Tracy Kidder's House will love this one too. Instead of a house, though, Pollan is building his own garden retreat. Why he needs a place of his own besides the house he already owns with his wife remains unclear. Somewhere down there I imagine he feared the encroachment of his first child. Thus, while his wife is pregnant with their first child, Pollan is pregnant with his plan for his shed.If there has ever been a person over-thinking everything, it must be Pollan. The mission to the moon cannot have been better analyzed and prepared than the construction of Pollan's garden shed. While reading this book, I felt profound sympathy for the poor architect who has to adapt and modify the plans countless times. In a limbo between friend and business partner, the architect works mostly pro bono Pollani. The intricacies of the Starbucks ordering system were developed for just such yuppie control freaks. At multiple times, I wanted to slap the author: It is only a shed. It isn't complicated and it doesn't require so much reflexion. Buying standard parts, Pollan could have saved himself a lot of trouble (but then he would have had more time to spend with his pregnant wife ...).If you are a doer, a lets-go person, you will probably hate this book. If you enjoy planning and (over-)thinking about buildings, you will find a pleasant read, although at times the reading experience slows down to watching paint dry. Perhaps it is well that nobody watched Thoreau build his cabin in the woods.
  • (5/5)
    One of the joys about LT is finding a great read that you would never discover on your own. Stasia (alcottacre) recommended this one so I tracked down a copy which was sent to me from the deep archives of our library. Michael Pollan is an author and essayist who decided that he needed to try a break from his cerebral existence and do some “manual labor.” His chosen project is to build a “writing hut” which will enhance the view from his house and where he can have a quiet place to work away from his home. He has the architect who helped with the remodel of his main house to draw up a plan and hires a “jack of all trades” young man to help with the construction and teach him the skills he will need to complete the job. This book is not only the story of the project but a discussion of the history of architecture, musings on many aspects of life and a lively view of the personalities of the people who help him. And that only scratches the surface of what this book discusses. I found it a total delight and highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in architecture, building construction, and/or people.
  • (4/5)
    Michael Pollan decides to build himself a working space on his land. He consults and architect and decides to assist with most of the work, while finding satisfaction in the job he also analyses the task and the different facets, from the architects vision to the reality of the tasks he and his carpenter mate face.I found it quite interesting, I come from a family of cabinetmakers and carpenters and this all seemed quite familiar, I've heard the diatribes about architects from them and quite understand the frustrations. It's an interesting read, even if he does overexamine things occasionally.
  • (4/5)
    An interesting look at the efforts it takes to build a structure, even a tiny one, from conception to the final item on the punch list. Pollan begins the project with the idea to build a simple out building to have as his own, built with his own hands. At times it was almost painful to read of the author's complete lack of physical construction ability, yet the skills he gains as the construction continues are quite admirable. His writing skills are never in question however as Pollan takes us step by step through the process of inception, planning and finally construction of his fun little building. Reading this book made me want to build my own place of my own.
  • (4/5)
    I love the interweaving of knowledge and observation that Michael Pollan builds into his narratives. He thinks deeply. He is never a fast read, his writing is too dense for that, but it is always enjoyable, like rich chocolate.