December 2011

TopNot So Big Gift Ideas
for the Holiday Season

Sarah SusankaIf you're anything like me, right about this time of year there's a mad scramble to find gifts for friends and relatives that will be of value to the recipient without being too expensive.  For design enthusiasts and for anyone who is working to create a home and life with room in it for what really matters, I offer these suggestions.

You'll find an assortment of my own books as well as those of others whose work I often recommend.  In addition, I've included books that have come to my attention over the last year, with subject matter relating either to Not So Big design, or to Not So Big living.  

May this Holiday Season be filled with the love and companionship that reminds us what life is really all about!  

With best wishes to you and all your loved ones,

Sarah Susanka

Note: all links in the recommendations below go to, but if you prefer to purchase from an independent bookseller instead, please go to Indiebound.
West Coast Green Keynote Speakers Not So Big Remodeling
Not So Big Remodeling shows how it's possible to stay put and remodel your existing house in a Not So Big way, incrementally, as time and money allow.  It's ideal for anyone who wants to understand both what isn't working in their existing home, as well as how to fix it.  This book was named one of the top ten customer favorites last year in the Home & Garden category on
West Coast Green Keynote Speakers
The Not So Big Life helps readers understand how to change the way they live by fully inhabiting each moment of their lives. For anyone who is struggling to find meaning and direction in their life, this is the perfect gift.  It also tells the story of how I came to write my first book.  Here's a link to the Introduction, where this story appears.  And to read more about what the book contains, click here
For those who find it easier to listen than to read or for those with long commutes, the audio book can be an ideal gift.  Although it is abridged, I've been told by many listeners that it was the audio book that got them interested initially and that led them to the book.  

From Amazon: The Not So Big Life Kindle Edition
From Random House:  The Not So Big Life E-Book
The Not So Big House 10th Anniversary Edition
This latest edition of my first book features a new cover, a new introduction and a new final chapter that shows how readers have implemented Not So Big strategies in their own homes.  The book's focus on the qualities of home rather than the quantities is timelier than ever in this economy.  Also available in paperback.

Home By Design Home By Design    

A guide to what underlies style, and an exploration of the principles that transform an ordinary house into home, this book is an illustrated dictionary of the architectural concepts that make a Not So Big house sing.  Also available in paperback.   

West Coast Green Keynote Speakers
The Not So Big House Collection
This newly packaged version of a Not So Big gift giving favorite includes The Not So Big House 10th Anniversary Edition (see above for details) and Creating the Not So Big House.  These two volumes offer the perfect introduction to Not So Big, in one slipcase set.
To see descriptions of all of my books, click here.

Pocket Neighborhoods Pocket Neighborhoods by Ross Chapin

Foreword by Sarah Susanka
Ross Chapin introduces an antidote to faceless, placeless sprawl -- small scale neighborhoods where people can easily know one another, where empty nesters and single householders with far-flung families can find friendship or a helping hand nearby, and where children can have shirt-tail aunties and uncles just beyond their front gate

Simply Imperfect Simply Imperfect by Robyn Griggs Lawrence

This book is a fully revised and updated edition of The Wabi-Sabi House aimed at moving past our pursuit of stuff to finding beauty in austerity, serenity, and authenticity through living modestly in the moment, stripping away the unnecessary and finding satisfaction in everyday things.  

Staying Put Staying Put by Duo Dickinson

For the millions of housing consumers who are house-bound by economic realities beyond their control, this book offers tangible hope for getting the home you want from the house you have. Dickinson shares his passion for saving money without sacrificing good design.

In-laws, Outlaws, and Granny Flats In-laws, Outlaws and Granny Flats
by Michael Litchfield 

This book covers every aspect of turning one house into two homes. With more than 200 color photographs and 50 floor plans and architectural details, In-laws, Outlaws, and Granny Flats is perfect for homeowners who want richer lives and a more secure future.

The Energy-Smart House The Energy-Smart House
from Fine Homebuilding Magazine 

A must-have for those concerned about rising home energy costs, this book is written by builders and energy experts who are also Fine Homebuilding Magazine contributors. The insight shared from the pros will give readers the most up-to-date ways to keep costs down and become "energy-smart."

Taunton's Built-Ins Idea Book Taunton's Built-Ins Idea Book
by Joanne Bouknight

The latest in the popular Idea Book series, this completely revised edition builds on the success of the original and showcases a wide range of built-in and storage possibilities. A handy visual clip file, it's full of fresh ideas for creating rooms that are both functional and stylish.

Welcoming Home Welcoming Home by Michaela Mahady
Exploring such cottage elements as the welcoming features of entryways, the sheltering features of roofs, and which materials and colors create comfort and warmth, Michaela Mahady delves into the psychology of how humans experience built places and what makes us feel welcome, protected, and happy.  You may recognize the house on the cover from p. 167 of The Not So Big House. Michaela was one of my partners at my former firm in Minneapolis.

A Carpenter's Life A Carpenter's Life by Larry Haun
Part memoir, part cultural history, this book is a unique story that looks at American home building from the perspective of twelve houses Larry Haun has known intimately. Builders and history lovers will appreciate Haun's deep connection to the natural world, yearning for simplicity, respect for humanity, and evocative notion of what we mean by "home."
 Larry, who passed away on October 24th, was a dear friend of mine, as well as a deeply wise man who embodied the true meaning of the word "Sage". This article from the New York Times came out just three days after his death.

A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander
This 1977 classic provides a compendium of design concepts that have shaped the built environment for all of human history, ranging from city planning to house design and everything in between.  The book encourages readers to recognize their innate building sense by providing a language by which to discuss what we know intuitively makes sense.   

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Awake in the World Awake in the World by Debra Moffitt
This book
 offers 108 quick and simple exercises to help invite soul-nourishing peace and calm into your fast-paced life. Inspired by wisdom traditions around the globe these practical techniques are compatible with any faith.

The Poised Century The Poised Century by David Robinson
This book shows what a century "on the brink" looks like and what each of us can do about it, presenting persuasive reasons why each of us must live today as if tomorrow mattered. Filled with practical remedies, The Poised Century offers abundance over inequity and hope over despair.

On Second Thought On Second Thought by Wray Herbert
This book provides the first guide to achieving the balance between trusting and questioning your gut responses.  It is both a captivating exploration of the workings of the mind and an invaluable resource for anyone who wants to learn how to make smarter, better judgments every day.

The Shibumi Strategy The Shibumi Strategy by Matthew E. May

For those navigating difficult transitions, struggling to overcome internal setbacks, seeking to regain balance, or simply taking new directions, this book offers a fresh perspective on the challenges we all face at some point in work and life.

The Spiral of the Seasons by John Sullivan The Spiral of the Seasons by John Sullivan
Although written primarily for those entering the fall and winter seasons of their lives, this book will be of immeasurable value to anyone wanting to learn more about the real meaning of life.  It's an excellent companion for The Not So Big Life.

Illuminated Rumi 2012 Wall Calendar The Illuminated Rumi 2012 Wall Calendar
Art and translations by Michael Green

Based on One Song: A New Illuminated Rumi, this calendar is an interweaving of poetry and art - a magnificent meeting of ancient tradition and modern interpretation that uniquely captures the spiritual wealth of Rumi's teachings.

2012 Rumi Wall Calendar 2012 Rumi Wall Calendar
Translations by Coleman Barks

Art by Matt Manley

If you're a fan of Coleman Barks' translations of Rumi, as I am, this calendar will be an inspirational adornment for any wall.

Thich Nhat Hanh 2012 Wall Calendar Thich Nhat Hanh 2012 Wall Calendar

This calendar combines Nicholas Kirsten-Honshin's graceful paintings with the words of renowned Zen master, peace activist and author of over 60 books, Thich Nhat Hanh.



A Year With Rumi: Daily Readings, by Coleman BarksA Year with Rumi: Daily Readings
Translations by Coleman Barks
A Year with Rumi brings together 365 beautiful translations of Rumi's greatest poems.  Join Coleman Barks and Rumi for a year-long journey into the mystical and sacred within and without. 
In This Issue
Not So Big Series gift ideas
Gifts for Not So Big House and Community fans
Gifts for Not So Big Life fans

My Facebook page has become my favorite way to keep fans up to date on my various ventures and interests.  I hope you'll join me there or on Twitter, which is connected to my Facebook page.

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Not So Big



The Not So Big House website


The Not So Big House site is full of useful information for people wanting to know how to build a house that favors quality over quantity. 



The Not So Big Life website


The Not So Big Life site is what I describe as the second half of the book, providing a community through which to engage your own not so big life.

The Not So Big Showhouse site has information about my Not So Big Showhouse at School Street, as well as the 2004 and 2005 showhouses.


Sarah Susanka website


The portal to all of my
 websites, also has some great resources for architects.


2011 Not So Big Showhouse entry

The qualities we long for have everything to do with taking time, building for the long term, crafting and paying attention to who we are, what we care about, and how we affect our world. The Not So Big House celebrates the beauty of daily life. With minimum means, it makes the act of living an art. It restores the soul to the structure.


~ The Not So Big House  

More from the
 Not So Big Series

Click on the book images
to order from Amazon

Inside the Not So Big House
Inside the
Not So Big House


Outside the Not So Big House
Outside the
Not So Big House

Creating the Not So Big House
Creating the
Not So Big House

Not So Big Solutions for Your Home
Not So Big Solutions For Your Home 

More Not So Big Solutions for Your Home
More Not So Big Solutions for Your Home 


Shell artwork

Our lives are perfectly crafted to reveal who and what we really are.  All that's required is our presence.


~ The Not So Big Life 




 If you would like to receive my minizines and newsletters, go to either The Not So Big House or The Not So Big Life and sign up for the e-mail list there.  The sign-up page allows you to choose which news to receive.

Title block tile:
RAVELLO 13"x 13"/4
by Encore Ceramics
from a photograph of the
Not So Big Showhouse
taken by Barry Rustin 

With best wishes for a happy holiday from all of us at Susanka Studios