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In this debut nonfiction book, Benaim, the CEO of real estate company Aria, shares stories from his professional and personal life. His primary career is real estate development, but he also has a side job as an opera singer, and he applies lessons from music performance to renovating buildings, forming partnerships, and evaluating risk (“I wanted to do real estate the way the Maestro does opera,” he explains). The book also introduces readers to “Mr. E.,” Benaim’s grandfather and role model, as well as other relatives who mentored him in the business. Stories of the author’s Moroccan Jewish ancestors establish his membership in a tightknit community, just as the tales of numerous meetings with residents and neighbors of his redevelopment projects demonstrate the importance of community. Benaim also addresses the role of honor and integrity in business dealings, and explains how his career has been shaped by his tendency toward risk aversion in a risky industry. The essays focus on a number of different projects in New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Florida, and Benaim highlights their aesthetic qualities and their connections to their surroundings. Later chapters offer Benaim’s prescription for sustainable 21st-century development, focusing on transit, accessibility, flexibility, and efficiency. Although the book was largely completed in 2019, the final section addresses the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on housing and real estate. Over the course of this book’s essaylike chapters, Benaim shows that he has an interesting story to tell, and he tells it with skill. The prose is solid, and his many anecdotes feel substantial and will capture readers’ interest. The chapters flow well but also stand on their own, making the book appropriate for both focused and intermittent reading. People who are interested in the business side of real estate will find plenty of information about structuring financing, navigating zoning regulations, and assessing value, but the book never gets bogged down in such details, making it enjoyable for casual readers, as well.

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