Tracy Kidder's classic article on a young couple building a house feels like appropriate reading for a housing slump. Here's one well burnished paragraph: 

They have a fine, sturdy marriage that is more than a marriage. It is an enterprise. They make a formidable combination. They are decisive. They know their own minds. And they knew what they wanted in a house.

They wanted a study so that Jonathan could work at home more often than he did. They wanted a remote master bedroom and a special domain for children. To ease traffic jams during the morning rush to schools and office they wanted a bigger kitchen and more than the one bathroom they had in the duplex. "And a place where we can all sit down and play a game," Judith said. "And a place for the kids' markers." They had given huge parties in the duplex, but a larger house would make a better site for parties. "It's nice to have a house where you can do weddings and bar mitzvahs," Judith said. "When I was growing up, there was an unwritten rule that you did those things at home." The location of their imagined house would improve their opportunities for hiking and bike riding and cross-country skiing. Because their yard would not be enclosed in woods, as their present one was, they would be able to do a lot of gardening. When Judith and Jonathan thought of a new house, they thought mainly of their family's busy social, civic, working, sporting, life, and maybe even of packing a few more activities into it. "When you get more space, you can do more stuff," Judith said, smiling.

The article was later turned into a book, a very good one.

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