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.


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.

Designing for Emotion

Aarron Walter

Aarron Walter joins the A Book Apart rainbow of knowledge with this short book on designing for humans. A mix of psychology and case studies show how designing for emotion works, with guidance on the small or large steps you can take to start doing it.


Studs Terkel

Terkel interviewed people of all walks of life (though mostly the working kind) about what they do and how they feel about it. The result is a massive collection of failed dreams, despair, hope, and pride.

I Read Where I Am

Geert Lovink, Mieke Gerritzen & Minke Kampman

A collection of short reflections on the future of reading, including those from Ellen Lupton, James Bridle, Erik Spiekermann, and N. Katharine Hayles.

Trickster shows how our most playful, devious stories are also (perhaps not surprisingly) our most revealing.

The Information

James Gleick

Glieck’s loosely organized tome details the many ways we’ve organized and communicated information over the ages; or, as is more often the case, failed to do so.

Managing Oneself

Peter F. Drucker

An essay turned pamphlet, short enough to reread regularly. Drucker’s advice comes down to knowing yourself well enough to make the right decisions.