I am not a professional architect or a builder, but my husband and I have a passion for small, sustainable dwellings. We were blessed to have the opportunity to buy bare land to farm, which allowed us to live our dream of building our own small home (600 sq ft) and an even smaller guest cabin (196 sq ft). Along the way to realizing our dream, we read a ton of books about small and sustainable home design. Many of the books we encountered with "small" or "green" in the title turn out to be something else completely: fancy photo books featuring expensive not-very-small custom homes. Maybe the homes are passive solar and energy efficient once they are built, but they are not very thoughtful beyond that -- they don't seem to question our society's notions about comfort, necessary spaces, and how we live in our homes in general.
"Little House on a Small Planet," on the other hand, addresses ALL of these things. It isn't a book full of glossy photos and floor plans -- instead it's full of thoughtful text (and many interesting photos too) asking us to consider what we really NEED in a home. What about home feeds our soul and makes us truly happy and content: Is it having as much space as possible? Or, is it having the RIGHT spaces?
It comes at the question of what we need in a home from different angles, including things rarely discussed, such as how the size and layout of a space affects our interactions and relationships with our family members. It also brings up the important topic of embodied energy and questions whether new 'green' homes are any better for the world than preserving and maintaining older, smaller homes.
The book also provides the stories of real people who live in small homes -- something conspicuously missing from almost all home books. We meet the people who live in the homes and hear about how they inhabit the space -- why they chose the design and how the design directly affects their daily life. We also see people from every class and income bracket -- home owners and renters alike. It's quite a diverse offering and probably more useful and "close-to-home" for people who can't afford the custom architect-designed homes seen in other books (which is most of us!).
There is so much packed into this book (photos, stories, charts, ideas, floorplans) that I couldn't even begin to share it all here. This is a book that will open your eyes to things you take for granted and force you to become an INTENTIONAL dweller in your home. Suffice to say that I would recommend this book to anyone thinking about moving into a new rental home, buying a home, building a home, or remodeling a home -- in other words, EVERYONE!