For the last six years I’ve chosen to read only design related books to improve my skills. I’ve kept a distance from novels, fairy tales and so on, in favor of keeping track with the requirements and trends for fields such as User Experience, Information Architecture and Interaction Design. In the following post I will present some of those books that I’ve read and guided me on the right track. This is my list of recommendations.
How to be a graphic without losing your soul
I never left this book out of my hands, until I've finished it. It's really awesome - it makes you say those "a..ha!!" words every time you identify yourself within the author's stories. What I liked the most was how Adrian Shaughnessy managed to tell the relationship between the Apprentice and Mentor. You should really check it out. Furthermore, the author launched a book dedicated to design studios called Studio Culture - if you want to open a studio and you want inspiration - read Adrian's work. You won't regret it.
Design of everyday things
Recently, I've become very passionate about Product Design (don't think of apps, think of physical products), so I started to read this book again. It manages to spice your perception of how you interact with daily devices. Also, in the book, Don Norman recommends Le catalogue des objets introuvables.- you should really check it out - it is a blast.
Caffeine for the creative mind
I'm a sucker for creative exercises and this book is a real masterpiece. It has so many original things to do - you simply can't get enough: from making parachutes for eggs to crafting cars out of soda cans. Also, the imaging and visual style of the book it's just overwhelming. You can buy it just for that. Also, the authors released another fun book available for the whole team - it's great for teambuildings and energizers.
Before buying my first iPod Touch, I had no experience with iOS apps and what the operating system is capable of. Practically I was put to the challenge to design an iOS app without having any knowledge of the Apple ecosystem. Luckily I found this book and it's a must read for everyone who wants to design for iOS without owning any of their products. It introduces you to the patterns and practices of great app design.
Ben Fry's book was the foundation of my BSc Thesis. It helped me understand data visualization and the process behind it: Acquire, Parse, Filter, Mine, Represent, Refine, and Interact. Also, if you want to work more with Processing, then this book is the starting point you seek.
Web form design
If you are a web designer, you cannot escape creating forms and this book gives you the best tips and tricks out there. From aligning inputs to handling errors, all you ever wanted from a form and more is packed in this lovely book.
Forms, folds and sizes
When I have spare time, I am more of a DIY junkie. I love spending time with arts and crafts and this book gives you the information you need to make the packaging stand out. The examples are well illustrated - it's like reading Ikea instructions.
Design your self
I saw this book at Cărturești library and it was love at first page. Karim Rashid outdone himself, delivering a well designed colorful guide for your lifestyle - you get tips and tricks on how to travel, how to take care of your body, how to love and many more. It really helps you "design your self".
Smashing UX Design
A full complete encyclopedia containing all the UX design elements and deliverables you would ever need at the palm of your hands... and fingers. It's packed with examples and insights from the authors' experience in the field. I still have some chapters left to finish the book - you need to take your time with this one.
Universal principles of design
To put it simple: this book is awesome. It introduces the reader to the world of design patterns and principles. The structure of the book is very simple, yet efficient: on one page the principle is described so that the reader can understand its core meaning and on the second page - the principle is showcased through elegant and real world examples.
79 short essays on design
If you are looking for something different, more of a design manifesto (tailored by Michael Beirut), then this book is waiting for you. Also, for each essays there's a different typography styling adding a nice finishing touch to a well comprehensive read.
A project guide to UX design
This book set me on the correct path when it comes to the UX field. I've read it even in classes, hiding it from the teacher. I was that attracted to the idea of "experience" and "satisfying user needs" - this book is for everyone who wants to start a career as a UX designer. The 2nd edition is now available.
A designer's research manual
If you want to know more about quantitative and qualitative research techniques and how to apply them with concrete examples, then look no more - this is book is a real gem if you want to pursue a career as a user researcher. I am now reading it for the 2nd time. It's that good.
The Art of looking sideways
This book is just wow - it packs a great deal of inspiration organized in 72 full chapters. Even today I still didn't manage to complete the book. It takes time and attention if you want to really digest the awesomeness the book offers.
Bonus: Design Magazines
If you like to travel and also keep an eye on your personal lifestyle, than this magazine is just for you. I've came across this great resource after winning a contest organized by Grapefruit (at that time I wasn't employed there) and as prize, I received a full year subscription to Monocle. This magazine is just beautiful - the photography, the typo, the layout, the tone of voice. I recommend you give it a try.
I saw the magazine back in 2012 at the Heathrow Airport (traveling back from Australia) and I bought it instantly. Since then I kept a close eye on what they are showcasing each month. It's a must read to everyone who seeks inspiration among digital creatives. Too bad since July 2013 I haven't seen a new issue launched.
The first time I've got my hands on an issue of Web Designer, it was when I had an annually subscription at British Council. I remember now, seeing the issues on their shelf waiting for me to devour them. The magazine is packed with tutorials, news, interviews and highlights of current trends in Web Design. As a 2014 resolution, I want to make a 13-issue subscription to it. I advice you think the same. It's worth it.
Note: some of these books I've managed to buy for myself and some I borrowed from friends, colleagues, teachers or ex-employers (Thanks, Adrian!).
The cover images for all books/magazines belong to their authors. No harm is intended. They were used solely to showcase the products.