Stylish, evocative reflections on architects and architecture, charmingly interspersed with a recounting of the problems and pleasures the author encountered when designing and building his own Canadian home. At age 32, Rybczynski (Architecture/McGill), author of Taming the Tiger and Home, took it into his head to build a boat. From this seemingly simple decision there followed the purchase of land on which to build a shed where be could begin construction, the eventual erection of the structure, the decision to incorporate living quarters into the plan, and, as a final irony, the author's decision to abandon the boat-building and convert the shed into a permanent home. In detailing his progress from seadog manquÇ to contented landlubber, Rybczynski explores such matters as the development of the barn throughout Western European history, the theories of architects from Palladio to Philip Johnson, the satisfactions to be found in sawing wood and pounding nails, and the depiction of children's games by the likes of Bruegel and Chardin. It is a delightfully eclectic array, and Rybczynski proves an engaging raconteur. And although the subjects the author discusses are invariably handled with admirable lightness and wit, their resonances are far-reaching. What is the relationship between human and architectural scale, for example? Why should every room have at least two sources of natural light? How does the placement of a structure affect its psychological impact on the inhabitants? What are the architect's responsibilties to society? Gracefully written, endearingly self-deprecating in tone: a work that will be returned to (and quoted) again and again by its eager readers.