My sister, who's been drawing blueprints in one form or another since we were little kids, is currently finishing her second year of grad school at the architecture department at UC Berkeley. Since she spends about 18 hours a day in the studio as it is (I'm not even coming close to exaggerating), she probably doesn't want to spend her few free hours browsing through architecture books, at least during the semester. However, once the holiday break kicks in, I'm pretty sure that she'll be curled up on a sofa with a more recreational, picture-heavy architecture book in her hands.
If your family's anything like mine, there are at least a few folks in your immediate circle who can happily pass the evening leafing through books chock full of great facts and even better photos of buildings, architectural details, blueprints, and life stories of famous architects. One good place to start is with the volume Architecture: Celebrating the Past, Designing the Future ($95), a book commemorating the 150th anniversary of the American Institute of Architects. I found this book at Builders Booksource's online site, which is an amazing resource for books on architecture and building. Another great place to check for architecture books is at Chronicle Books, whose architecture section is chock full of gems, such as the recently released California Academy of Sciences: Architecture in Harmony With Nature ($29.95).
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