The Chairs Are Where the People Go

Misha Glouberman & Sheila Heti

A unique collaboration between Misha Glouberman—a performer and artist—and his friend—the writer Sheila Heti—results in this charming and instructive collection of parables.

In the Blink of an Eye

Walter Murch

Murch’s brief collection of essays (they were originally lectures) was first published in 1995, and refreshed in 2001 with new attention to digital editing.

What Is Reading For?

Robert Bringhurst

Bringhurst’s small pamphlets (always lovingly designed and printed) are among my favorite things. This one is, unsurprisingly, a full-throated defense of the book.

Writing Machines

N. Katherine Hayles

This short book, a collaboration between literary critic Katherine Hayles and designer Anne Burdick, has a lot not to like. But even ten years after publication, the book’s exploration of the material nature of writing is interesting and as yet incomplete.

I’ve been a fan of Smitten Kitchen for years, so it’s delightful to see her recipes and photography pulled together into such a lovely package. Perelman’s style is enthusiastic and never fussy; the recipes are simple but attentive to just the right details.

Max Perkins

A. Scott Berg

Perkins was, as the title suggests, the editor of many geniuses—notably, Fitzgerald, Wolfe, and Hemingway. Berg’s biography delves into his personal life, but I think the book is most compelling for its insight into Perkins’ working relationship with his authors.

The Shape of Design

Frank Chimero

Chimero’s meditation on design is thoughtful and lovely, a welcome refresher from the more logistical ethos that has been ascendent in recent years.

Angelmaker

Nick Harkaway

Perhaps my favorite novel in recent years. Part noir, part old-school Bond thriller, part apocalyptic science fiction tale, and completely magnificent.

The eighth book in the now very successful A Book Apart series reflects back on previous titles while also looking ahead. Mobile best practices meets content strategy head on, in a short book that’s packed with good advice.

Design Is a Job

Mike Monteiro

A love letter to web designers everywhere, Design Is a Job catalogs the many and varied mistakes one can make on the path to being successful, and generously warns you away from them.

Love, An Index

Rebecca Lindenberg

Lindenberg’s words touch on darker days, but the form and style are extraordinary even if held apart from the event that triggered them.

How to Fix Copyright

William Patry

Patry is senior copyright counsel at Google, and despite the upfront disclaimer, this book defines a vision of copyright that clearly benefits the world’s biggest search engine.

Books as History

David Pearson

A smart study of books’ physical form, and a defense of its value independent of the words on the page.

As a novel, The Lifecycle of Software Objects suffers from expository writing, flat characters, and uninspired prose. But as a thought experiment, it’s surprisingly (if incompletely) compelling.

Community and Privacy

Serge Chermayeff & Christopher Alexander

A precursor to Alexander’s A Pattern Language, in which he and Chermayeff define what’s wrong with the design of the suburbs, and outline the principles behind a more human (and urban) environment.

The New Brooklyn Cookbook

Melissa Vaughn & Brandan Vaughn

I use this less as a cookbook than as a guide for where to eat; but the recipes and photography are as lovely as the neighborhoods.

Living and Eating

John Pawson & Annie Bell

A minimalist’s manifesto, with simple recipes and beautiful, spare photography. Keeping it on my coffee table for perusing before heading to the farmer’s market.

On Writing Well

William Zinsser

I’m only just now reading this book, but it was a bit like discovering an old friend you didn’t know you had. Zinsser’s is the kind of casual, unassuming writing that sounds effortless, but isn’t.

Mobile First

Luke Wroblewski

The sixth book from A Book Apart features data-driven techniques and best practices for designing for mobile from the inimitable Luke Wroblewski. It also represents the best kind of short book: packed with information and a delightful read.