Margie Ruddick

Landscape Designer / United States / Margie Ruddick Landscape

Margie Ruddick’s Book List

These books have stayed with me for many years, or in some cases almost my entire life—they have formed me, changed my way of thinking, shocked me. All of them have some relation to landscape—that is not because I am so narrowly focused (although I kind of am), but because landscape is everything.

Novels and poetry have more power to convey landscape ideas than do textbooks, which, honestly, I have never ever really read. Histories like Frederick Turner’s Beyond Geography or Roderick Nash’s Wilderness and the American Mind work because they are great stories. If I had to give one piece of advice to a high school student wanting to become a landscape designer or landscape architect, I would say: “Major in literature, of any kind.”

10 books
Wallace Stegner

One of the great novels of the American landscape.

Frederick Turner

One of the great histories of the human relationship with the land.

Palmer Brown

I must have read this book several hundred times as a child—a pure escape from, and then restoration to, urban life; a mix of love and loss and landscape.

Translated by Robert Alter


Elizabeth Bishop

One of the great books of poems of the North American landscape.

Joan Dell

It seems as if I read this book a thousand times as a child. A Cockney girl finds an alternate reality after jumping into a reflecting pool in Berkeley Square, travels through an underwater purgatory of lost children, meets fairies, bests evil spirits in the underworld, and ultimately sacrifices it all to help a blind boy. Sob.

Walker Percy

Brought to life a city and landscape I had never been in—and the people in it—so vividly that when I visited New Orleans for the first time I felt I had always known it. Best sidewise revelation and questioning of faith (“extreme unction”).

Vandana Shiva

Turned on its ear everything I thought I knew about the human role in the landscape, resetting my focus on invisible economies within the forest.

Roderick Nash

One of the great histories of the American landscape.

Susan Griffin

Blew Ian McHarg right out of the water. I read this book as a graduate student at Harvard. It helped me understand what I was doing and where I was going, with few roadmaps and no mentor.

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