A few books I particularly enjoy including fiction, non-fiction, and, of course, design.

American Kingpin

American Kingpin is the story of Ross Ulbricht and his dark web empire, the Silk Road. It’s enthralling and San Francisco plays an important role.

Atlas Obscura

Atlas Obscura is a giant list of unique things to see when you travel. Every time my wife and I plan a trip we check the book for recommendations.

Bad Blood

Bad Blood is the shocking story of Elizabeth Holmes‘ company, Theranos. In addition to the book I recommend listening to the podcast, The Dropout, and HBO special, The Inventor. I can’t wait for the movie!

Billion Dollar Whale

Billion Dollar Whale is the wild story of Jho Low and his international fraud empire.

Command and Control

Command and Control oscillates between the terrifying history of atomic weapons, and the 1980 Damascus Titan missle accident.

Creative Selection

Creative Selection is Ken Kocienda‘s story of the original iPhone’s design and development process.

Designing Design

Designing Design is a beautiful, thoughtful, and elegant collection of design projects by Kenya Hara. This is my favorite capital “D” design book.

Ender’s Game

Ender’s Game taught me that reading can be fun. This is my favorite science fiction book about children training to save the world against an alien invasion.

Ender’s Shadow

Ender’s Shadow is the same story as Ender’s Game but told from a different character’s perspective. I think the Bean series is better than the Ender series.


Asimov’s Foundation series is about Hari Seldon moving scientists and scholars to a distant planet in order to minimize the empire’s downfall.

Grid Systems in Graphic Design

Josef Müller-Brockmann’s demonstrations of grids and their rules will inspire you apply grids to everything.

Helvetica and the New York City Subway System

Helvetica and the New York City Subway System is a thorough history of signs, plaques, arrows, tiles, and type. If you use New York’s subway system you will notice many subtle details.

How to use graphic design to sell things, explain things, make things look better, make people laugh, make people cry, and (every once in a while) change the world

Michael Bierut’s body of work is inspiring, and in How to he writes about his origins and projects.


In iWoz Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple, tells amazing stories about his childhood and… Apple.

Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products

Jony Ive may not be goofy like Steve Wozniak, but he’s still an important part of Apple’s history and fun to learn about.

Kitchen Confidential

Anthony Bourdain literally changed my life. I was awake at 2:00am in Barcelona reading Kitchen Confidential, and in one paragraph Bourdain insists the human body should be treated like a rollercoaster instead of temple. In that moment I decided to eat pork. My wife will forever be happy.

Losing the Signal

Losing the Signal describes the history of BlackBerry Limited (Research in Motion), and how they responded to the iPhone.

Midnight in Chernobyl

Midnight in Chernobyl is a detailed account of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. I also recommend watching the HBO series, and listening to the accompanying podcast.

Photographers on Photography: How the Masters See, Think, and Shoot (History of Photography, Pocket Guide, Art History)

Photographers on Photography is a collection of photographers’ processes and how they think about… photography.

Steve Jobs

Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs has its flaws, but it’s still the best book about Jobs. Note: I’ve read several.

Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera

Bryan Peterson writes about how he approaches taking a photo with a focus on exposure.

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

Randall Munroe, the genius behind the webcomic XKCD, breaks down crazy scenarios like what would happen if a pitcher threw a baseball at the speed of light.

Within the Frame

David Duchemin writes about telling stories with a camera. I believe telling stories is what separates an amateur from a professional photographer.