Summer is still here. Time for leisure reading time at the pool or in the hammock. Maybe with all this good weather you’re building your dream tiny home and wondering what comes next. Whether you are looking for downsizing tips, lifestyle inspiration, tiny home swoon or building tips, I have a long, rich recommended reading list for tiny lovers of all stages.
Fun fact: most of these books were written by current or past tiny house dwellers.
1) Welcome to the World of Tiny (& Small) Homes
Tiny Houses or How to Get Away From It All
by Lester Walker
Published in 1987, long before tiny house was a common term, Lester Walker recognized that small structures and homes are nothing new. Tiny Houses provides a visual walkthrough of tiny houses of the past, beginning in the 1600s. It includes historical housing insights, design ideas, and architectural drawings.
Little House on a Small Planet: Simple Homes, Cozy Retreats, and Energy Efficient Possibilities
by Shay Salomon
What fills a home when the excess is cut away?
At its core, Little House on a Small Planet is call-to-action to steer away from the excessive McMansion trend to embrace simple yet fulfilling lifestyle and well-designed home.
Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter
by Lloyd Kahn
A mesmerizing introduction to the grassroots movement centered on scaling back and building simple homes, as a reaction to the significant economic downturn of the early 21st century.
The real estate collapse, the economic downturn, layoffs, scarcity of good jobs – these things have many people rethinking their ideas about shelter – seeking an alternative to high rents, or a lifelong mortgage debt to a bank on an overpriced home. Here are some 150 builders who have created tiny homes (under 500 sq. ft.). There are some 1,300 photos of homes on land, homes on wheels, homes on the road, homes on water, even homes in the trees. There are also studios, saunas, garden sheds, and greenhouses. Here are builders, designers, architects (no less), dreamers, artists, road gypsies, and water dwellers who’ve achieved a measure of freedom and independence by taking shelter into their own hands.
The Not So Big House
by Sarah Susanka
Sarah Susanka made living small sexy again, with a simple message: choose quality over quantity. Though written by an acclaimed architect, it provides easy to understand design principles and most importantly empowers readers with the questions to ask themselves to create a just-right home that doesn’t skimp on creature comforts or beauty.
by Jay Shafer
The legendary Jay Shafer built his first tiny home in 1999. Over the next decade refined his small space philosophy and building technique, which is all captured in this quick-read.
I live in a house smaller than some people’s closets. My decision to inhabit just 90 square feet arose from some concerns I had about the impact a larger house would have on the environment and because I just do not want to maintain a lot of unused or unusable space. My house meets all of my domestic needs without demanding much in return. The simple, slower lifestyle it affords is a luxury for which I am continually grateful. If smaller, well-designed houses aren’t the wave of the future, they certainly are a significant ripple on that wave. On these pages, I explain why. I also share my personal experiences with living in diminutive homes, meeting codes, and designing small spaces that work.
Jay Shafer, circa 2010
Humble Homes, Simple Shacks, Cozy Cottages, Ramshackle Retreats, Funky Forts
by Derek “Deek” Diedricksen
Deek of Relax Shacks fame is an artist and exuberant fan of all tiny structures. He poured his passion into this whimsical doodle-a-thon/tiny space graphic novel. It is a fun read full of design ideas and front row seat into Deek’s imaginative builder mind. He also includes creative salvage material ideas.
2) Tiny House 101
Idiot’s Guide: Tiny House Designing, Building, & Living
by Gabriella and Andrew Morrison
Are you at the beginning of your tiny house journey? If yes, start here! This is the ultimate overview of all aspects of tiny houses. Written by the illustrious Morrisons of TinyHouseBuild.com, who have tremendous experience in building, tiny dwelling, advocacy and life coach work. Their genuine passion comes shining through in this modern tiny house encyclopedia/self-help book.
Tiny House Decisions
by Ethan Waldman
Everything author, Ethan Waldman wished he knew before building his tiny house. The most powerful lessons are missteps. The what not to do’s. Take my advice: learn from other mistakes now to save time, energy and heartbreak. Tiny House Decisions is a comprehensive field guide to help aspiring tiny house builders make the right choices for their unique homes.
Building Your Moveable Tiny House with Mindfulness
by Patrick Sughrue
Tiny living means consciously choosing to live simply. So when building your very own tiny home on wheels, it should be done in this spirit, mindfully, in a way that will lead to a home that feels like you. In this building guide, you will be reminded that the journey is just as fulfilling as the end goal.
3) Personal Experiences, Big Inspiration
by Dee Williams
Warning: don’t read this book if you are not prepared to cry. The Big Tiny is an autobiographic tale of the incredible Dee Williams, who built an 84 square foot tiny house after a major health issue instigated a personal paradigm shift about how the important things in life aren’t things.
Admitting that I am ‘happy enough’ makes me wonder if I’m falling short of my potential as a middle-class American; like I should want more out of life than this tiny house and the backyard, and the way it feels to sit on the porch and watch the sun come up… But the fact are the facts: I found a certain bigness in my little house–a sense of largeness, freedom, and happiness that comes when you see there’s no place else you’d rather be.
by Jenn Baxter
When Jenn Baxter refers to F.A.S.T., she means Fabulous, Abundant, Simple and Tiny. In her book, she reminds us that imperfections, mistakes, and heartache are a treasure trove of life lessons. Her story is a call-to-action to focus on what matters most in life: your well-being and what brings you joy. This book left me feeling motivated — even fired up — to dig deeper into issues holding me back from living a healthier, more robust life. There’s no time like now to embrace a higher quality of life and bucket-list living — an empowered yet grounded approach to living like every day is your last.
by Emily Gerde
For Emily Gerde, there’s much more to minimalizing than just downsizing your living space. She encourages readers to take a holistic approach that prioritizes your health and wellness to help you achieve abundance in all areas of your life.
Find joy in the journey, for there is no end point, only new adventures and lessons along the way.
by Carmen Shenk
Kitchen Simplicity is not a tiny house cookbook. It’s a delightful philosophy book on purposeful simplicity; the first in series by the Tiny House Foodie, aka Carmen Shenk. What’s so refreshing about this book is how Carmen guides the reader through the downsizing transition by liberating your mind from stock misperceptions around the meaning of happiness and success.
What you ‘need’ is based on what you’re used to. Change what you’re used to, and it will change what you need.
More inspirational titles to explore:
Living Large in Our Little House by Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell, with foreword by Tiny House Blog founder, Kent Griswold
120 Ideas for Tiny Living by Laura LaVoie
You Can Buy Happiness (and it’s Cheap) by Tammy Strobel
Tiny House Basics: Living the Good Life in Small Spaces by Joshua Engberg
4) Tiny Home Swoon
by Derek “Deek” Diedricksen
From doodles to mind-blowing tiny spaces, Deek’s latest books provide a compelling guide to creating funky shelters and fully-functional tiny homes. These two books make a great pair for those interesting in DIY building, especially with salvage materials. Learn what to keep in mind during the planning process, and how design choices affect your living experience.
by Lloyd Kahn
Is wanderlust calling you? If so, this is the fanciful book for you. Tiny living afficiando, Llyod Kahn expands on his work on the tiny house and simple living movement, with an intimate look at the modern nomadic life. You will be delighted by the wide array of tiny homes, from house trucks to house boats, skoolies and more.
This is a book full of joy, adventure, and high spirits. It is rich, colorful, and imaginative, and these competent and artistic owners/builders will inspire others with their unique homes and lives.
More swoon-worthy titles to explore:
XS – Small Houses Big Time by Lisa Baker
The Modern House Bus: Mobile Tiny House Inspirations by Kimberley Mok
Tin Can Homestead: The Art of Airstream Living by Natasha Lawyer
Van Life: Your Home on the Road by Foster Huntington
Tiny Houses Built with Recycled Materials by Ryan Mitchell
5) For Kids
by Susan Bernardo and Courtenay Fletcher
The Big Adventures of Tiny House is a story of adventure and community, and most importantly a fresh take on the meaning of home. Susan and Courtenay beautifully capture the spirit of the tiny house movement— a pioneering lifestyle centered around meaningful experiences and friendships, and adorably charming to boot. This is sure to become a classic, beloved by tiny house enthusiasts of all ages!
An old farmhouse that gets recycled into something new: TINY, a little house with a big heart – and WHEELS!
More heartwarming, fun titles to explore:
Home by Carson Ellis
Grandma’s Tiny House by JaNay Brown-Wood
How a House Is Built by Gail Gibbons
Building a House by Byron Barton
6) For Advocates and Developers (of all kinds)
by Andrew Heben
Andrew Heben is one of the visionaries behind SquareOneVillages, a nonprofit developing tiny home communities as a means to bridge the gap between the street and market rate housing. Tent City Urbanism is an incredibly well-researched and thoughtful look at how tiny shelters and tiny houses can be used to create lasting, positive change for the most vulnerable.
Tent City Urbanism explores the intersection of two phenomenons—the rise of democratic tent cities organized by the unhoused and the “tiny house movement” led by people looking to simplify their lives by downsizing their environmental footprint. In between, we find the tiny house village—a practical, community-based approach to restoring a simple housing option that preserves personal autonomy. This progression from camp to village has inspired the development of three distinct models for infilling the growing gap between the street and conventional housing options—the sanctuary camp, the transitional village, and the affordable village.
by Kol Peterson
Kol Peterson is an ADU academic and organizer of Portland’s widely popular ADU tour, and co-owner of the first ever tiny house on wheels hotel, The Caravan. He masterfully addresses a vast array of issues and opportunities related to ADUs, aka accessory dwelling units. They are slowly but steadily finding their way into (or back into) neighborhoods across the country. ADU’s are a practical form of infill housing. They promote density as a way to create more much-needed housing stock on existing land.
Backdoor Revolution is an A–Z manual on how to create ADUs, written by one of the most passionate, knowledgeable and experienced people in this burgeoning movement. For anyone wanting to build or live in an ADU, or to include as a permitted use in a zoning code, this is the go-to book. With this book, Kol leads the reader through the challenges and barriers that get in the way of permitting, financing and building ADUs, and lays out the opportunities for bringing this grassroots phenomenon into a viable housing option for American cities and towns.
Ross Chapin, author of Pocket Neighborhoods: Creating Small-Scale Community in a Large-Scale World
7) Monthly Tiny Reading
published by Tiny House Blog
Tiny House Magazine is your monthly deep-dive into the vast and wonderful world of the tiny living movement. Looking for building resources, the latest tiny house designs and inspiring personal stories? Then look no further than this digital magazine. Now available: Issue 68
8) A Call-to-Action to Live By
by Miranda Aisling
I want to leave you with this empowering quick read by tiny dweller and community builder, Miranda Aisling. She is fiercely brave and wise beyond her years. With the help of her mom, Miranda built her very own tiny house. She encourages readers to go out and create, no matter your skill level. Believe in yourself. You can create beauty. The creation process itself is where the beauty is found.
Nothing happens when you do nothing. But when you do something, anything can happen.
Miranda Aisling of Miranda's Hearth
What are your favorite tiny home books? Let me know in the comments below.