Publisher: Bellevue Literary Press
Canadian Publicist: Debby DeGroot, MDG Associates
US Publicist: Molly Mikolowski, BLP

Places of the Heart: The Psychogeography of Everyday Life

Our surroundings can powerfully affect our thoughts, emotions, and physical responses, whether we’re awed by the Grand Canyon or Hagia Sophia, panicked in a crowded room, soothed by a walk in the park, or tempted in casinos and shopping malls. Places of the Heart explores how our homes, workplaces, cities, and nature — places we escape to and can’t escape from — have influenced us throughout history, and how our brains and bodies respond to different types of real and virtual space. By investigating what science has gained from new technologies, the book assesses the influence these developments will have on our evolving environment and asks what kind of world we are, and should be, creating.

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Selection of the Library of Science, History and Military Book Clubs
Discover Magazine “What to Read” selection
Book Riot “Small Press Book to Read” selection
Nature “Books of the Week” selection

Order your copy of Places of the Heart today!


This beautifully written book grabs the reader from the start, with personal stories from the author’s life interwoven with history, archeology, technology, and design.” – Esther M. Sternberg M.D., author of Healing Spaces

 If you care about your city and your happiness, read every page of this fascinating book. Places of the Heart offers a thrilling journey through the pathways of our cities and the human mind. This is no flight of fancy. It’s an evidence-based exploration of how the places we inhabit change our minds and bodies. Colin Ellard is one of the world’s foremost thinkers on the neuroscience of urban design. Here he offers an entirely new way to understand our cities–and ourselves.” – Charles Montgomery, author of Happy City

 From Neolithic monuments that awe to ‘playground casinos’ that empty wallets, Ellard argues that a scientific understanding of how our surroundings affect us must be the foundation on which we build the cities and homes of tomorrow.” – Discover

 Meshing recent findings with thoughtful appraisals of their implications, Ellard looks at spaces and the awe, lust, boredom, affection or anxiety that they trigger. He is richly insightful, particularly on digital encroachments into the experience of place.” – Nature

 Ellard breaks down psychological and neurological information in an accessible way. . . . Highly recommended.” – Book Riot

 From Stonehenge to the African savannah, the book is filled with stories both personal and professional that offer profound lessons about the psychology of places…Ellard is most compelling when describing his own experiments and their results, producing gems that will help architects and urban planners in their everyday practice.” – Spacing Magazine


Are you a member of a book club or reading group? Or maybe you’re a psychogeography enthusiast looking to explore your ideas with others?

You’re in luck! We’ve got a reading guide you can use for your group discussion of Places of the Heart !
Download it from Bellevue Literary Press.

Where Am I?: (Canada) You Are Here: (USA)

Why We Can Find Our Way to the Moon but Get Lost at the Mall

Although I’ve studied the psychology and biology of space for many years, it wasn’t until more recently that I realized how fully our everyday lives are permeated by the problems of space — understanding our place, finding our way, seeing the spatial connections between the places we know well and the those we only read about in books or see in the news.

My book, entitled Where Am I? in Canada and You Are Here in the US, was published by Harper Collins Canada in April 2009 and Doubleday in the US in July 2009. It places the human preoccupation with space into psychological, philosophical, and anthropological context.

Not only this, but it might help you to understand how best to arrange the furniture in your house, why we find golf courses so attractive, and what we can do to help our children re-connect with natural spaces.


  One of the finest science writers I’ve ever read… You know you are in the hands of a good teacher when you look up from a book and your own ideas spill out like winnings from a slot machine. It’s fun, pure fun.” LOS ANGELES TIMES

 You Are Here provides a colorful, well-charted atlas of our subjective mental maps — visual stories that we tell ourselves — and an impassioned argument for finding our true place in the world we inhabit.”
TOM VANDERBILT, author of Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (And What it Says About Us)

 Delightfully lucid… Ellard has a knack for distilling obscure scientific theories into practical wisdom.” —  NEW YORK TIMES

  Ellard writes with admirable clarity…An anecdotally rich provocation in service of environmental awareness.” — KIRKUS REVIEWS

 [A] fascinating and exhaustive rundown of the processes involved in keeping us and other animals moving in the right direction… an absorbing read.” — GLOBE AND MAIL

 Ellard is able to entertain us with an explanation of the cold, hard science of navigation… to follow that up with an artfully constructed exploration of how our relationship to spaces plays a huge part in making us human is a rare feat.” — QUILL AND QUIRE

 Colin Ellard’s new book, Where Am I?, is a powerful inquiry into how we humans orient ourselves in space and identify places both familiar and new. It’s a stimulating and provocative read for anyone who’s looking for a better understanding of how we process the world around us and orient ourselves within our habitations and living environments.” — SARAH SUSANKA, author of The Not So Big House

 [A] delightful, dense and illuminating book….” — PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY

 In this fascinating journey to the wild frontiers of human navigation, Colin Ellard makes it clear that the space around us has made us the species we are. Where Am I? is witty and engaging and crammed with profound insights. What’s more, it’s useful too: if you, or your keys, have ever got lost, Ellard can tell you how it happened – and how to stop it happening again.” — MICHAEL BROOKS, author of Thirteen Things That Don’t Make Sense

 Ants find their way back to their nest and bees to their hives with remarkable ease, and homing pigeons follow flight paths over incredible distances with uncanny accuracy, but humans seem to need a GPS to keep from getting lost in a mall. Colin Ellard not only delves into such phenomena with élan, he also introduces us to the world of navigational research, a world most of us don’t even know exists. Where Am I? is sure to direct you down some paths you’ve never explored before, and no, you won’t get lost.” — DR. JOE SCHWARZ, PhD, author of An Apple a Day

Media Coverage

Women’s Health – Life Section

Corbin Design – part 1 part 2 part 3

NPR – Morning Edition

NPR – Talk of the Nation – Health & Science Section

Boston Globe – Q&A

Canada AM – CTV, Toronto

Here and Now – CBC Radio One, Toronto

Christy Clark Show – CKNW Radio, Vancouver

Maritime Morning – NEWS 95.7, Halifax

KW Magazine – CKWR Radio, Waterloo

Globe and Mail – Life Section

Globe and Mail – Tuesday Essay

Globe and Mail – Report on Business

The Record – Cover Story

Additional Literature

Mind Wandering

Read my regular column in Psychology Today, called Mind Wandering, to learn more about the psychogeography of everyday life.

Article for Aeon

``Streets with no game.`` Boring cityscapes increase sadness, addiction and disease-related stress. Is urban design a matter of public health?

Article for the Centre for Urban Design and Mental Health

``Psychogeography: Exploring the Brain's Reactions to Urban Design``

Article for the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture

``Brains, Behavior, and Baukultur``