1. How to Build an Igloo and Other

By Norbert E. Yankielun

With global warming monopolizing the chatter at smart holiday gatherings, it would take an iconoclast to obsess over the building of a shelter for really cold climes. But Norbert E. Yankielun, a research engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Cold Regions Laboratory, has done just that, writing the must-have book of the season on building snow domes. Yankielun has been teaching people how to make igloos for 15 years at the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, Vt. His illustrated pocket-size instruction manual appears whimsical but is grounded in essential data, from site planning to the proper way to cut snow blocks. Yankielun doesn't stop at igloos. He devotes a signicant portion of the book's 208 pages to quinzees (snow mounds), slab shelters, drift caves, and spruce traps—all traditional structures that evolved from the need to survive in the chilliest wild. Whether 21st century architects could improve on these age-old forms is a subject for a sequel. W.W. Norton; $17.95

2. Building Details

By Frank M. Snyder

Introduction by Peter Pennoyer and Anne Walker

In the early 20th century, measuring and drawing the details of existing buildings was fundamental to the pursuit of great architecture. So Frank Snyder, a New York architect, devoted himself to copying window frames and sashes, doors and trim, cast-iron balusters, gables, and marquees from the working drawings of the star architects of his day, including McKim, Mead & White; John Russell Pope; and Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson. To his standardized 16-by-21-inch drawings, Snyder added photos of the details in built form and descriptive notes on the final choice of materials. The drawings were published serially in the magazine Building Details between 1906 and 1914. Snyder advertised the utility of details that couldbe "readily adapted to any Work having similar requirements, using different materials, sizes and proportions than those shown, either for more or less expensive work." Now Snyder's studies of details on banks, churches, clubs, and houses are reprinted at their original size and contained as full-scale tiffs on a DVD included with the volume. The digital utility of Snyder's century-old handiwork—and the Beaux-Arts details he copied--is up to you. W.W. Norton; $60

3. The Architecture of Parking

By Simon Henley

Simon Henley, principal of the London architecture firm Buschow Henley, proposes to rehabilitate the reputation of garages. He likes the uncompromising use of concrete, the "weathered" ambiance of open-air spaces, and the idea that in elevation, garages are "great abstract compositions" filled with shiny metal objects. Searching across time and space—from Paul Rudolph's 1963 Temple Street garage in New Haven, Conn., to Zaha Hadid's 2001 carpark in Strasbourg, France—Henley finds the rare examples worthy of a coffee-table book and waxes eloquent about "the stuff of synthetic concrete landscapes." Thames & Hudson; $45