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Book Reviews

Take Shelter: At Home Around the World

by Dani Tate-Stratton; Nikki Tate

More than 40 million people live in underground houses in China’s neighbouring Northern provinces of Shaanxi and Shanxi. To put that in perspective: Canada’s population is approaching 35 million. This is one of many fascinating facts mother and daughter authors Nikki Tate and Dani Tate-Stratton weave into their book on dwellings. Using an easy, conversational tone, they explore the various structures used as housing around the globe.

Take Shelter: At Home Around the WorldTate and Tate-Stratton discuss underground homes such as caves; moveable dwellings including caravans, boats, and yurts; houses crafted from natural materials; and innovative developments in housing. They also dispel common misconceptions (all homes located on water move and homes with dirt floors are dirty), and detail how unconventional housing structures such as tunnels, shipping containers, and dumpsters have been transformed into living spaces for the homeless.

It would be easy to overlook the issue of homelessness when discussing types of living spaces, but this segment of the population is addressed in a sensitive, inclusionary, and considerate manner. The authors also discuss Ikea flat pack disaster homes for refugees, which provide shelter to some of the 35 million people made homeless due to conflict each year.

The book offers readers a personalized spin on the topic via “My Place” entries, in which the authors share anecdotes of the various dwellings in which they’ve lived or stayed as guests. (For instance, Tate-Stratton’s bedroom on her small urban farm is a repurposed pigeon coop.)

Photographs, supplemental sidebars, and a list of online resources round out this eye-opening, thought-provoking work.