or, “Keeping the Sword Sharp”

Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug
Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug

Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug isn’t present in the photo above. I gave it away to another designer a few years ago. It’s arguably the ugliest book in the lot, but it’s definitely at the top of my list of most influential design books. While transitioning from an agency designer primarily focused on inventing interfaces with each client, to an experience designer fine-tuning a product to satisfy a much broader demographic, this book provided me with crucial lessons in simplicity and empathy.

The Visual History of Type is a newer acquisition and a glorious book-lover’s book. A typeface for every year, starting with Gutenberg’s Bastarda in 1454. The Hi-Fi photography enables the reader to examine each letterform's characteristics. The author also created a clever framework to include detailed metadata for each typeface.

I love Eva Hesse’s painting and sculptural work, but I am partial to her drawings. I always thought there was a common thread between some of her drawings and some of my interaction sketches—both being unrefined, methodical, and hints of a framework. Eva Hesse Drawing is another book-lover's book, with excellent typography, a great size and weight, and beautiful photographs of her drawings.

Here’s the full list:

  1. Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug
  2. The Visual History of Type by Paul McNeil
  3. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward R. Tufte
  4. Eva Hesse Drawing by Elisabeth Sussman
  5. Universal Principles of Design by William Lidwell, Jill Butler, Kritina Holden
  6. It Is Beautiful--Then Gone by Martin Venezky
  7. The Designer and the Grid by Lucienne Roberts,  Julia Thrift
  8. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary by Merriam-Webster
  9. Sagmeister: Made You Look by Stefan Sagmeister,  Peter Hall
  10. The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst
  11. Understanding Media by Marshall McLuhan
  12. Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton
  13. Between You & Me by Mary Norris
  14. Shady Characters by Keith Houston
  15. Notes on Synthesis of Form by Christopher W. Alexander