by Tracy Kidder (Mariner Books)
This Pulitzer Prize winning author's fly-on-the-Sheetrock account chronicles the construction of a five-bedroom Greek Revival style house that helped make the reputation of architect Bill Rawn. Required reading for anyone interested in how architects and contractors think (especially what they think of each other and of you), it's also a moving elegy to the pride of workmanship that goes into a well-built home-if you don't tear up when head carpenter Jim Locke packs away his tools for the last time, you may want to check that thermostat of yours.
Excerpt: "There was always an assumption that the frieze would extend out from the face of the house," says Bill. Jim studies the drawings for the first time. He looks up at Bill. "Well, I guess the solution is to get the drawings before we build the house." Jim throws the papers down onto the tailgate. He stares at Bill. The owners, Judith and Jonathan, glance at each other and don't speak. "It's been different from the way you did it, all along," says Bill. "Not all along." Jim picks up the blueprint and shakes it. "These drawings right here are dated six-fourteen. It's makin' me mad, all this stuff."