Updated Dec 22, 2022
Fiction, non-fiction, and, of course, design
American Kingpin is the story of Ross Ulbricht and his dark web empire, the Silk Road. It’s enthralling and I was delighted to learn that San Francisco plays an important role.
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 is the shocking story of Elizabeth Holmes‘ company, Theranos. In addition to the book I recommend listening to the podcast and Hulu series.
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 is Ken Kocienda’s story of the original iPhone’s design and development process with a focus on a feature we constantly use but not necessarily think about: the keyboard.
Designing Design is the perfect design book. Kenya Hara’s body of work will teach you to approach design projects with a sense of creativity, delight, and impact.
Designed by Apple in California
Designed by Apple in California is simply a collection of beautiful photos of Apple products and their curves, lines, edges, and corners. I recommend acquiring the 13″ × 16.25″ version of course. Sadly the book is no longer for sale.
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 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.
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.
Project Hail Mary
Project Hail Mary is the third (and in my opinion best) book from Andy Weir. Ryland Grace is humanity’s only hope, and he’s a badass nerd.
Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves explores a sudden destruction of the moon and how humanity can survive. It’s just the right amount of science to keep me excited without feeling confused or overwhelmed.
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.
The Vignelli Canon
The Vignelli Canon is a journey through the work of Lella and Massimo Vignelli who made significant contributions to the design industry through corporate branding, graphic design, kitchenware, fashion, and more. I recommend watching Design Is One: The Vignellis to learn more about this epic duo.
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.
Yearbook is a collection of stories from Seth Rogen’s life. His combination of Judaism, adolescence, and shennanigans brought me to tears laughing multiple times.