Apartment Therapy (Bantam Books, $109) is for people who need help fixing not only their homes but also their lives. The information provided is the sort that would provoke seasoned homebodies to utter, 'Duh': don't push all furniture against the walls; don't use your money to partly complete two rooms - finish one room at a time; don't start redecorating before knowing your style. But the handholding by author and interior designer Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan should be welcomed by design neophytes and those who've never had to look after themselves. Which is why he provides an easy-to-follow step-by-step programme and simple-to-remember chore lists. By following the eight-week schedule, readers should have, the book says, clutter-free, fresh and spiritually invigorated places to live. Worth dipping into from time to time, such is its density of fact, is Building Shanghai: The Story of China's Gateway (John Wiley & Sons, $507). The book, by Edward Denison and Guang Yu Ren, places 21st-century Shanghai in context by using its architecture and urban landscape to illustrate its history. There are, for example, photographs of St Ignatius Cathedral in Xu Jia Hui in 1910 and 2005. The church that stands today boasts new spires built to replace those removed during the Cultural Revolution, when it was converted into a factory. Then there's the Metropole Hotel. The 14-storey structure, which tapers towards the top to comply with building regulations, took only three months to build in the 1930s. Given a seemingly similar rate of development these days, there are buildings that no longer exist, including the Beth Aharon synagogue, a gift from tycoon Silas Hardoon to Shanghai's Jewish community. Like many other buildings in the city, it was the work of Palmer & Turner, the Hong Kong-based firm that designed nine of the 13 edifices constructed along the Bund from 1920. Towards the back of the book, when the past moves into the present, there are photographs documenting the Lego-like rebuilding of Shanghai. Oft-seen images of the decrepit against the gleaming are reminders of what the city has lived through and how history may be repeating itself in its dizzying comeback. Something that has been valued since its introduction in 1956 is the Eames lounge chair. On its 50th anniversary, the leather-upholstered rosewood-veneered chair and ottoman by Charles and Ray Eames is saluted with an in-depth study of the iconic product. The Eames Lounge Chair: An Icon of Modern Design (Merrell, $360), co-authored by five writers, examines its design, explaining how it was backward-looking as well as ahead of its time. As is pointed out, other plywood-shell constructions had come before it and, rather than being modernist and simple, its many parts required 50 steps to assemble. The book's strength comes in its examination of the chair; not in isolation, but with contemporaneous and other designs in mind. This is a must-have for chair lovers, although, for those who don't already have an Eames lounge chair, it will probably provoke the desire to own one.