Ian Ritchie

Architect; Interior Designer; Urban Designer; Product/Industrial Designer / United Kingdom / Ian Ritchie Architects

Ian Ritchie’s Book List

I love words. They are at the root of our communication and culture. Books are central to our existence. To write without reason is difficult, to write without imagination is impossible, and memories are essential to knowing and grounding oneself at any given time. Good books have these characteristics.

The following list is a sampling from libraries at my office and home.

15 books
Lucien Stryk

I saw this book at John Hoyland’s studio—it had several pages tabbed by John—and I read a few of them. This book has given me a new and richer perspective on John, the painter and very special friend.

John Seymour
Herb Girardet

I was asked by Herb Girardet if I would like to chair the book’s launch at the Ecology Centre in London. It was a major wake-up call, in the vein of North-South.

Ruth Benedict

I read this book in 1969 and it gave me my first insight into how an anthropologist recorded and interpreted observations of a very different culture, one which I was about to visit and engage with in 1970.

Edward Goldsmith Editor

A collection of essays on Man and Nature, Politics of Food Aid, Nuclear Energy after Chernobyl, Man and Gaia, Acid Rain and Forest Decline, and Water Fit to Drink are accompanied by 400 articles on subjects ranging from additives to zero population—and a Pandora’s box of information on our planet. It is also an evidence-based collection of environmental damage across the globe that challenges the current political and economic systems that lies at the heart of this crisis.

Richard L. Gregory

I became interested in the biology of seeing, or how images are translated. This book was recommended when I was a student in Liverpool in the late 1960s and gave me a fascinating introduction to how the brain translates images. Neuroscience was to become a subject with which I would get far more involved starting in 2009 with helping to realize the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour.

Charles A. Reich

One of a number of books I read in the early 1970s as I investigated commentators, critics, and writers on the emerging youth culture (in the U.S. and Europe) that challenged the conventional “paths to success,” and sought a more collective, shared approach, which in parallel was questioning the power of technology to support yet also control our lives.

John Berger

I love Berger’s writing—he is an artist who understands other artist’s ambitions and can describe and analyze them with acute and poetic sensitivity. In this book his critical eye and conscience reveal human political resistance to global economics and military activity.

Theodore Zeldin

I cannot recall who suggested I read this book, but what a delight—a cascade of experiences written with insight and wit (I could not put it down)—a dance through history revealing insights and hence futures way beyond the few female characters the author explores in different eras.

E. P. Thompson

This masterpiece of understanding how society evolved through shared values between those whose interests differ fundamentally from the values of others (employee/employer) and how society changes. The book was seminal in giving me a historical background to my own world in England, and showing how identity and passion to make one’s own life was a fundamental aspect of creating society, and changing it.

Jean Giono

A fascinating postwar essay and a parable that I found irresistible: a sole planter (living with nature and nurturing life) is contrasted with those who make war—how one person can make a significant change in our world through the simplest of repeated action. Just brilliant and one of my all-time favorite stories.

Willy Brandt

A “stand-up” for global justice book that appealed because of the caliber of those who helped inform and shape it as a manifesto for equality.

Herbert Marcuse

I read this more or less at the same time as I did The Making of the English Working Class. I sensed the relationship between a society that had evolved but I knew not, and a society being challenged by the one I was living in. Technology was the dominant theme of the time (and still is), and passivity seemed to be the consequence. As my friend Cedric Price once said, “Technology is the answer. What was the question?”

Joffre Dumazedier

This book was recommended to me by Peter Wilmott, one of my readers, while I was studying free-time leisure space at the Polytechnic of Central London Planning School. Dumazedier, a French sociologist, seemed to be ahead of others in searching for a more meaningful and less wasteful evolution of mass leisure.

Marshall McLuhan

The seminal book that asked what communications are and how they affect us. I read the book again (it is at times impenetrable, like reading Joyce for the first time) before teaching “communications” at the Polytechnic of Central London’s Planning School.

Robert M. Pirsig

This was already a cult book when I bought a copy, and its combination of philosophy and emotion through conversations was akin to ongoing seminars and discussions I was having in the mid-1970s, except this was a written reference.

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