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The Perfect $100,000 House: A Trip Across America and Back in Pursuit of a Place to Call Home Hardcover – August 17, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Beautifully written, poetic, and inspiring. -- John Thackara, director of Doors of Perception

Engaging and informative . . . its combination of road trip and ongoing philosophical tract reminded me of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. -- Leonard Koren, author of Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers

Jacobs’s story of her coast-to-coast search for the American Dream—a great, cheap house—is smart, fascinating, and fun. -- Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Karrie Jacobs was the founding Editor in Chief of Dwell, a San Francisco-based nationally distributed magazine about modern residential architecture and design. Prior to that, she served as architecture critic of New York magazine, and her work has appeared in The New York Times. She is now a regular columnist at Metropolis.

Gary Panter, a Texas-born illustrator, painter, designer, and part-time musician, is arguably one of the most influential graphic artists of his generation. He is a three-time Emmy award–winner for his work with Pee Wee’s Playhouse, as well as the recipient of a Chrysler Design award in 2000.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult (August 17, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670037613
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670037612
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #603,722 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By D. A. Hosek on May 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
It sounds like a great concept: An architecture writer with $100,000 in the house sets out to see what she can buy for that money somewhere in America. And the first chapter, where she goes to "architecture camp" in Vermont sets us up for something promising.

But the promise isn't fulfilled because for a book like this which is as much travelogue as reporting requires that we have a guide that we enjoy spending the trip with, and Jacobs is that most obnoxious sort of New Yorker: No place is good enough because it just isn't New York. The other cities in America, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, are just places to get through on the way to another rural area which will be dismissed because it's just some remote area where there aren't enough hip people (or too many hip people) for it to be comfortably similar to living in Manhattan.

Worse still, in a book about architecture, there is one essential ingredient which is painfully absent. PICTURES. I'm sorry Ms Jacobs, but your prose is not sufficient to convey the feel of the homes you describe without abundant illustration to accompany them. Instead we're treated to one(!) illustration per chapter, which often isn't even the most interesting-sounding building from the chapter.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson on December 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I suppose I was expecting a journey along the lines of Tracey Kidder's House, something personal and organic.

I found this book frustrating for two basic reasons:

1. The lack of photographs, especially of the specific houses discussed was frustrating. Akin to discussing the merits of a painting, without a picture of it! I don't know if this oversight was the fault of a cheap publisher's budget, or the author's choice, but the book suffers as a result.

2. The author's voice: seemed bitter or jaded or tired of her journey about two-third's before the road trip was done. Needless to say, it seems that she never found a house that she could actually commit to.

As a result of the above, the reader leaves the book neither caring about the author's quest or any closer to discovering where to find the perfect $100,000 house.

Perhaps the only thing I got from this book was a fleeting desire to subscribe to Dwell magazine.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By cowper on September 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
A diary of one woman's search for what seems so reasonable on paper--a modern home on a budget--the strength of this book is its many entertaining interviews with people who are both part of the mainstream homebuilding industry and those that are trying to offer an alternative. If you've heard about pre-fab, this is a good way to learn why it's exciting--but why it only addresses part of the problem.

This book is not a "how-to" guide, though it does underscore how much effort it takes if you want something that doesn't have a gabled garage but don't have a giant budget. Ultimately this book reminded me that the perfect house is really about the perfect neighborhood, which is really hard to build from scratch.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Deprived_Of_Cake on September 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Karrie Jacob's book, The Perfect $100,000 House, tackles a problem I've been wondering about for a long time--why is the majority of housing in America today extraordinarily expensive crap? Do people in this country just have no taste, or is it that they have no choice? Is good design only for those who can afford a custom single family residence of 500K and up?

Ms. Jacobs chronicles her search for answers to these questions with verve and wit, making for entertaining and informative reading. This is one of the most interesting books I've purchased in a long time, and I read quite a lot (usually several books a week).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Len Moskowitz on November 18, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
She found lots of perfect $100k homes -- too bad they weren't perfect for her!

I enjoyed this book immensely -- read it in two days.

With a warm and friendly writing style, Ms. Jacobs (former editor at Dwell magazine) introduces us to host of talented architects, each with their own take on the $100,000 home, based on local needs, economics & politics and aesthetics. Some are mid-century moderns, some are updated classics, and others defy classification. All are interesting!

Along the way she gives us some insight into what's going on across the spectrum in the world of architecture, from the huge corporate builders to the "one-off" customs.

As others have noted, there aren't enough pictures (just one black & white drawing for each chapter), but the two page index of the architects' Web site URLs make up for that in spades. I spent two hours surfing them and had a ball!

Finally, I'm glad it was her doing the extended road trip and not me -- I surely would not have lasted as long as she did!
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J. Design on November 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The book was well written however, the content was underwhelming. Sort of a record of the ramblings in the mind of an immature female that thought she knew what she wanted yet could not quite ever commit to the resolution.

My exact feeling upon my completion of the book was "What a waste of my time!"
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