What would summer be without a pile of books nearby for leisurely reading? For those whose pre-vacation schedules leave little time for bookstore browsing, we've shortened the task for you. Here are a few titles to keep in mind as you prepare to head for the hammock, iced coffee in hand.

Sifting through the architecture books recently off press, it's clear that green design is the topic du jour. Prefabulous (The Taunton Press, $25), by Sheri Koones, is a good primer on seven common types of prefabricated construction, from modular and panelized to timber frame, concrete, and steel. With a foreword by Sarah Susanka, FAIA, it's designed to appeal to homeowners looking for a simpler, more resource-efficient way to build a custom home. The narrative case studies include large photos, floor plans, and project credits that add up to a handy source list.

The prefab movement has certainly received its share of hype. But Prefab Prototypes: Site-Specific Design for Offsite Construction (Princeton Architectural Press, $60), by Mark Anderson, AIA, and Peter Anderson, AIA, is a thoughtful analysis of standardized building. Written for design professionals, this handsome, oversized tome includes an 18-page introduction that delves into prefab history and theory. The subsequent chapters are devoted to six construction approaches, using design examples by Anderson Anderson Architecture, the authors' San Francisco- and Seattle-based firm. The illustrations are a standout—from full-page photos to elegant drawings, exploded perspectives, and parts lists that elucidate the buildings' components.

Is there a green gender? That's the question Kira Gould and Lance Hosey, AIA, LEED AP, explore in Women in Green: Voices of Sustainable Design (Ecotone Publishing, $24.95). While some may be put off by the question, the writers wisely avoid oversimplifying the discussion. Rather, they focus on the formidable role women are playing in the green revolution and, more important, why this is so. Small, cerebral, and beautifully packaged, this book would make a fine gift for someone of either gender.

Summer's respite might also be a good time to reflect on how to demystify the design process for clients. With friendly, straightforward prose, Gerald Lee Morosco, AIA, covers the basics in How to Work With an Architect (Gibbs Smith, Publisher, $24.95). Photos and plans of homes designed by Morosco, who apprenticed at Taliesin, offer inspiration for the journey.

Hal Box, FAIA, former dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin, is also on a mission to make architecture accessible. “If you want to make architecture,” he writes in Think Like an Architect (University of Texas Press, $45), “you have three choices: hire an architect, become an architect, or learn to think like an architect. This book is about all three.” Charmingly organized as a series of letters to friends and students, it speaks to everyone—both in and outside the profession. With its wisdom, depth, and breadth, this book has all the marks of a classic. Its utter lack of pretension and preachiness make it a joy to read.

Sarasota Modern
by Andrew Weaving
(Rizzoli, $50)

Strawbale Home Plans
by Wayne J. Bingham and Colleen F. Smith
(Gibbs Smith, Publisher, $24.95)

Key Houses of the Twentieth Century: Plans, Sections, and Elevations
by Colin Davies
(W.W. Norton & Co., $45)

House: Black Swan Theory
by Steven Holl, AIA
(Princeton Architectural Press, $40)

The Harvard Five in New Canaan: Mid-Century Modern Houses by Marcel Breuer, Landis Gores, John Johansen, Philip Johnson, Eliot Noyes, and Others
by William D. Earls, AIA
(W.W. Norton & Co., $34.95)

Kanner Architects: 11 Projects |
by Michael Webb
(ORO Editions, $30)

O'Donnell + Tuomey: Selected Works
by Sheila O'Donnell and John Tuomey
(Princeton Architectural Press, $40)

Frank Lloyd Wright Prairie Houses
by Alan Hess and photographer Alan Weintraub
(Rizzoli, $50)