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The handmade house deriv limited, doughty and particular, is being celebrated in three books, a publishing event that feels like an anodyne in these troubled housing times. “Handmade Houses: A Century of Earth Friendly Home Design” (Rizzoli; $45), by Richard Olsen, a former editor at Architectural Digest, is a breezy history of the genre, tracing its roots from Henry Thoreau to Carl Jung, and from Helen and Scott Nearing, whose mid-century subsistence living experiment in Vermont and Maine prefigured the ’70s-era back-to-the-landers, to Lloyd Kahn, once the shelter editor of The Whole Earth Catalog, and the dean of the hand-built movement.

Mr. Kahn, 76, has been publishing steadily under his own imprint, Shelter Publications, since 1973, and has influenced generations of passionate D.I.Y.ers. He has his own new book, “Tiny Homes, Simple Shelter: Scaling Back in the 21st Century” ($24.95), a glorious portfolio of quirky makers and dreamers, like Derek Diedricksen, a former Eagle Scout and comic book writer who builds “microhouses” — forts, nooks, tents and hammocks — out of salvaged materials like washing machine doors, for pennies a square foot. Mr. Diedricksen has a book out too: “Humble Homes, Simple Shacks, Cozy Cottages, Ramshackle Retreats, Funky Forts” ($16.95), which began as a handmade how-to guide he put together himself. Early last year, he had sold 3,000 copies, and Lyons Press came courting. The “new triple-caffeinated expanded edition” of “Humble Homes” still looks zine-y, with Mr. Diedricksen’s agreeable comic book sketches, but there are photos too. Finally, a dizzy-making corollary from the other side of the tracks: “Palaces” ($3.99, marked down from $39.95 ), a custom-published book, presents rooms designed by Perla Lichi deriv binary , a South Florida decorator who frequently works in Dubai and has a client base of “V.I.P. Emirati,” as her publicist put it, as well as royalty and professional athletes. Her book is a collection of moist, golden photos with practically no words — the owners of these padded, swagged, gilded and furry rooms remain a mystery. Flipping through, you note what must be a signature item for Ms. Lichi because it shows up again and again: a most curious hairy throw, like mohair that has been knitted with Christmas tree tinsel and fringed with feathers and satin ribbons. In any case, Ms. Lichi’s Web site notes that she is also the author of “You Deserve Beautiful Rooms,” “You Too Deserve Beautiful Rooms” and “More Beautiful Rooms.” If you order two, you’ll get “Palaces” free. Information: perlalichi.com.


All images COPYRIGHT 2012 RICHARD OLSEN, unless otherwise noted deriv trading . ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.