The Once and Future World

J.B. MacKinnon

MacKinnon calls for a “rewilding,” bringing the wild back into our lives rather than carving out a separate place for it. A compelling and beautiful read.

The Sixth Extinction

Elizabeth Kolbert

From frogs to bats to megafauna and the Great Barrier Reef, Kolbert’s tale is a terrifying and fascinating travelogue.

Young’s 1958 treatise introduced the word “meritocracy” into the lexicon, something he himself would later regret.

Hild

Nicola Griffith

From the scant historical record of Hild of Whitby, Griffith spins an extraordinary story of a girl who learns to navigate the world of kings and thegns.

Hall’s contribution to the unstoppable (yes, I’m biased) A Book Apart list is both an instructive reference and a critical corrective.

Newitz first dives into the history of evolution and extinction, looking at how past species have survived (or not) and what we can learn from them; then she projects a fascinating and divergent vision of humanity millions of years from now.

Mumbai New York Scranton

Tamara Shopsin

Shopsin writes in short, present-tense sentences. Frequent paragraph breaks are separated by empty lines. Many pages stop short. In the hands of someone less genuine, the effect would be gimmicky, but Shopsin is as real as it gets.

Privacy

Garret Keizer

Keizer’s approach to the topic of privacy is more philosophical than policy: you won’t find solutions to the problems of data mining or warrantless wiretaps within, but you will be prompted to think hard about privacy and its many contexts.

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.