One of the books that has helped my work a huge amount is On Writing Well by William Zinsser. A lot of the ideas in this transfer really well to design. What non-design books have been invaluable to you?
Should designers read non-design books?
Should designers read?
Should designers be on Designer News?
Creativity Inc is a great read!
Seriously. I got so pumped reading it! Pixar sounds like an amazing place to work at.
Happy to hear it - I have it on my read list.
Rework by Jason Fried. It's a business book but has so many great takeaways for designers too.
Yep, I've got this too. Great book.
Yes, it is nice one.
Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow is one of the best books I've read and every designer would benefit from reading it.
- 1 on Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow. I learned a lot from that book.
The 2 books are awesome
+1 on both of these.
Bird by Bird looks great. I may be purchasing that. I used to have Ways of Seeing somewhere – it was required reading for university.
You must have a lot of KNOWLEDGE with all those books. Thats a lot of books. Mad props
How to win friends and influence people - For client relations
$100 startup - Marketing, side-project skills, etc.
Read this book if you want to take great photographs - Learning about photo compositions really translates well to design IMO. This is a very basic book but it is incredibly helpful.
Damn Good Advice (For People with Talent!) - Technically not design related. Some really great lessons in this book. My personal favorite being "step away from the screen". essentially, don't get all your inspiration from peers. Sometimes you need to just sit down and wait for that idea. And thats how you avoid sticking to trends.
Just finished the Elon Musk Biography. He is such an amazing guy that it reads like fiction.
48 Laws of Power Pretty hard to read especially with all the current craziness, but great to know.
Leaders Eat Last How being or working with dicks is killing you.
the Obstacle is the Way How to make lemonade and not freakout about things beyond your control.
Make it Stick Going back to the basics of how we learn.
Setting the Table by Danny Meyer, famed restauranteur. It's an excellent treatise on the mindset of hospitality, which I believe has a hell of a lot in common with good design.
Notes on the Synthesis of Form by Christopher Alexander. Kind of a design book, but early enough and conceptual enough that I think it counts. A brilliant and cerebral exploration of what the mind of a designer must engage with and accomplish.
Someone else already mentioned Daniel Kahneman, but also pick up the books by Dan Ariely, another smart cookie in the world of cognition and behavior, and while we're on the subject Cognition and Reality by the "father of cognitive psychology", Ulrich Neisser, is totally worth your time. It lays out the basics of cognitive psych and makes the case for evaluating and measuring cognition in "ecologically valid" scenarios (prototyping with real users/data, anyone?).
Daring Greatly by shame researcher Brene Brown is an accessible and compassionate book describing the power of vulnerability and shame. This one can seem a little self-helpy from the outside, but I promise it's worth engaging with your ability to be vulnerable and be resilient in the face of shame if you're in or want a creative career.
That's all for now!
Made to Stick is a classic, well-written engaging book about how to create and cultivate ideas and experiences that stick over the long haul. I think every designer should read this book.
Essentialism by Greg McKeown is an excellent book about a frame of mind, that works across design too. Do the right things, not all of the things right now
that's the best one...helped me focused a lot back in 2015!
The Systems Bible
Any of the great works of literature would be a starting point. Why? For one, a large part of design is about empathy:
Researchers at The New School in New York City have found evidence that literary fiction improves a reader’s capacity to understand what others are thinking and feeling
One book that really helped advance my understanding of how a company works was The Startup Owner's Manual
If you don't want to read the book, there's a great course on Udacity based on it called How to Build a Startup.
I'd also add a book Elon Musk was recently talking about called 12 Against the Gods. It's written by a South African journalist in the 30s who likes to overcomplicate thinks for the sake of being fancy, however if you can stomach that style (even just the intro) it makes a very good point.
Some great recommendations here. I will try not to duplicate so here are a few that I didn't see mentioned before:
I was really inspired by What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. He has a lot of great insights about work ethic.
The Brain Audit by Sean D'Souza - Great for thinking about how a user might buy.
Influence by Robert Cialdini - Read chapter 2 on reciprocity. Can't recommend that enough.
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport — Super helpful view on productivity with solid strategies that you can actually apply in your life.
What the CEO Wants You To Know http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/162816.What_the_CEO_Wants_You_to_Know
Sometimes it's quite difficult to see a line between design and business or psychology/behavioral economics books. I believe all of these can be considered non-design:
Envisioning Information by Edward Tufte: https://www.amazon.com/Envisioning-Information-Edward-R-Tufte/dp/0961392118/
Storycraft by Jack Hart: https://www.amazon.com/Storycraft-Complete-Narrative-Nonfiction-Publishing/dp/0226318168/
What It Is by Lynda Barry: https://www.amazon.com/What-Lynda-Barry/dp/1897299354/
I love "Story" by Robert McKee. Though we're not in the movie business, we do a lot of storytelling through our work. There are many books out there that talk about a specific formula and tips but McKee is awesome at explaining the fundamentals which people overlook.
Another great one is "Start with Why" by Simon Sinek. Highly recommend it, especially if you're in a leadership position and want to inspire those around you and not just manage them.
Fountain Head A long read but the fight between "success" and one's true design self took me on a rollercoaster of emotions and spoke to me on many levels of entrepreneurial, business, moral, and design parts of my own life.
"before you can do things for people, you must be the kind of man who can get things done. But to get things done, you must love the doing, not the secondary consequences. The work, not the people. Your own action, not any possible object of your charity. I'll be glad if people who need it find a better manner of living in a house I designed. But that's not the motive of my work. Nor my reason. Nor my reward."
Competing Against Luck by Clayton M. Christensen on Jobs To Be Done theory.
In the first book we are introduced on a college professor, Winter Sorbeck, who introduces the main character to graphic design. His monologues on differences between design and art, the importance of observation, and the history of design inspired me more than any design self-help book.
Another novel which I really enjoyed is The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. And before I get lynched over here for daring to recommend an author who serves as an advertising banner for republicans, let me just say that any book offers a point of view, what matters is what you take out of it. This book tells the story of two architects - one who struggles with creative integrity of his work and another one who craves social approval (read: dribbble likes). There is obviously a lot of side plots, characters and topics int his looooooong novel, as well as the introduction of the much critiqued Rand's Objectivism philosophy. But i guarantee you, as a creative person you will find a lot similar experiences main characters are going through in this book.
Hello! Came across this list whilst on a search for a new non-design book and thought this should definitely appear here, somewhere: Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! It's a fantastic account of creative problem solving and is hugely design relevant regards mindsets and ways of thinking, not to mention the fascinating angle of the cold war, that it provides. You will be surprised!