Friday, May 21, 2021

Nonfiction Quick Reviews: Iconic Buildings


An hour outside of Chicago, along a riverbank, lies the Farnsworth house, an architecturally significant home of the 20th century.  Designed by Mies van der Rohe, the home started as a collaboration between the architect and his new friend, Dr. Edith Farnsworth, but the two had a falling out while the property was under construction, leaving a stain on the history of the home.  I really enjoyed this nonfiction book.  I loved learning about van der Rohe's architectural philosophies and styles (luxurious materials, open floor plans, "letting the outside in") and how he was inspired by the surrounding forest and river to create a unique home made almost entirely of glass and steel beams.  Unfortunately, while beautiful to look at, the home was a nightmare to live in, and Farnsworth and van der Rohe ended up suing each other when the costs began adding up.  So interesting and easy to read, and I really enjoyed the incorporation of many quotes, from interviews, documents, and even the trial.  4 stars

 
In this nonfiction book, Shawn Levy recounts the history of the famed hotel Chateau Marmont in Hollywood.  From its start as an apartment building, just above the Sunset Strip, the Chateau quickly became a haven for Hollywood's elite, despite its lack of amenities compared to other local hotels.  I thought this was a really interesting look at an iconic building.  The book is set up chronologically, as it focuses on major periods in the hotel's history, framed by the owner of the time and the context of the surrounding area.  It features short anecdotes about the different personalities who have stayed there, from big names of old Hollywood to rock stars of the '70s and '80s.  In a town where celebrities are followed relentlessly, it's intriguing to read about a place that is renowned by the famous for its discretion and privacy.  There are a lot of names mentioned, some of which I wasn't familiar with, and it's always more fun to read about people you "know."  At times there was a bit too much background information (I didn't necessarily need the life story of each owner), it was overall an engaging read.  4 stars

18 comments:

  1. While I wouldn't care about the back stories of the owners, I bet some of the stories about the famous guests at Chateau Marmont were really interesting.

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  2. The Chateau Marmont book sounds pretty interesting. I knew a lot of celebrities went there just because I've seen the name in random photo captions in recent years but I had no idea that it had such a history.

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  3. I do miss touring old historic buildings! There is something so romantic about these places. Reading about them would help fill that void right now. ;)

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    1. Me, too! Yes, reading about them is the next best thing!

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  4. I have had my eye on The Castle on Sunset - I love Old Hollywood, so I would love that aspect of the novel and hearing about all the famous guests!

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  5. I am not one for non-fiction, but I like that Broken Glass incorporated so many sources to accompany the story

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    1. Yeah, it's always nice to get to know people in their own words.

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  6. I love quirky building like that!

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  7. I don't know if I could enjoy books about buildings but if the it included people that inhabited it- definitely could be interestingšŸ˜€

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    1. Yes, part of what makes a building interesting is the people who inhabited it!

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  8. These both sound so interesting! THe Chateau Marmont sounds like it'd be especially fun to read about, and the Farnsworth house sounds like it'd be so crazy to learn about. These are two I'd definitely add to my TBR!

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    1. Awesome! I hope you love them if you do decide to read them!

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  9. This is a fun pairing! I think I might have enjoyed The Castle on Sunset a little less than you, since I didn't find it engaging, but I had essentially the same criticisms that you did. I didn't need that much info on every owner and I was put off by the fact that it included so many people I'd never heard of.

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    1. Yes, at times it was an information overload, but the stories about the people I did recognize were really fun!

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I'm so glad you stopped by, and I would love to hear your thoughts! Comments are always greatly appreciated!