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5 Questions with Lloyd Kahn

City Lights Bookstore welcomes Lloyd Kahn on Tuesday, April 11th. He’ll be discussing his new book, Small Homes: The Right Size, from Shelter Publications. Lloyd answered our 5 questions. More about him, and his answers, below.


The Event: Tuesday, April 11th at 7:00PM. 261 Columbus Ave., San Francisco, CA 94133.

About Small Homes: Are tiny homes too small for you? Do you want living space larger than 200–300 sq. ft. of floor area? Hot on the heels of his popular Tiny Home series of books, Lloyd Kahn revisits smallish structures and explores the possibilities of working within limited physical spaces and maximizing creativity in relation to one’s needs. His new book is profusely illustrated and he will be presenting a visual presentation that will include many images that never made it into the book.

Featuring: 120 homes in the 400–1200 sq. ft. range, owner-builder techniques, natural materials, a variety of construction methods, inspiration from owner-builders, a cornucopia of ideas, small homes in the country, towns, and cities, and over 1,000 photographs. Use your own hands to build your own home.

About Lloyd Kahn: Lloyd Kahn is the editor-in-chief of Shelter Publications, an independent California publisher. Shelter Publications specializes in books on building and architecture, as well as health and fitness.


City Lights: If you’ve been to City Lights before, what’s your memory of the visit? If you haven’t been here before, what are you expecting?

Lloyd Kahn: First time maybe 1962, I was an insurance broker and started to wander in North Beach during my lunch hour. Memory of wonderful place. I bought Howl.


CL: What’s the first book you read & what are you reading right now?

LK: I started out reading books on the sea by Howard Pease at 12 years of age or so. Right now reading A Man Called Ove by Frederik Bachman.


CL: Which 3 books would you never part with?

LK: Barns of the Abbey of Beaulieu at Its Granges of Great Coxwell and Beaulieu-St. Leonards by Water Horn and Earnest Born, Das Skizzenbuch des Francesco di Giorgio Martini, and Richard Halliburton’s Complete Book of Marvels


CL: If your book had a soundtrack, what would it be?

LK: The album “Let It Bleed” by the Rolling Stones (which includes “Gimme Shelter”).


CL: If you opened a bookstore tomorrow, where would it be located, what would it be called, and what would your bestseller be?

LK: Maybe some day I’ll open a bookstore and sell off the some 600 books I have on building and architecture. I could call it Learning to Build.


Join Lloyd and City Lights on Tuesday, April 11th at 7PM as we celebrate the release of his new book, Small Homes. Get the book direct from Lloyd’s Shelter Publications, at City Lights, or ask for it at your local independent bookseller.

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Eat Dog's Driftwood Beach Shack

Photo by Lloyd Kahn

…Eat Dog built a tiny house in a semi-hidden ravine leading down to the same beach. (I walked on this beach many times in those years and never spotted his shack.) He lived there for about two years, until getting to work as a gardener miles away in the “civilized world” got to be a strain, and he abandoned the place. Soon others moved in, notoriety followed, and it too was confined to a fiery ending…

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Tom's Cabin

It started as a “Tall Barn” prefab kit from Tuff Shed (which has a large selection of pre-fabbed little structures). It was about $4,000 for the structure, exterior walls, roof deck, floor, and floor framing, delivered on a truck. Studs are 2×4’s two feet on center. Exterior walls are ⅜″ particle board with a wood grain pattern. Tom insulated the inside walls and roof with R-11 fiberglass batting, then used ⅜″ CD plywood for sheathing…

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