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InsightOct 14, 2023

Five books to add to your summer reading list

Cover photograph of A Book on Books: New Aesthetics in Book Design A Book on Books: New Aesthetics in Book Design; Photo credit: victionary

By Elyse Maxwell RGD, Senior Graphic Designer & Project Manager, Patch Design

Summer and reading go hand in hand. There’s nothing better than a long, leisurely afternoon under the shade of a tree, with an interesting book. Although school may be out for summer (or forever for many of us), there is always more to learn. Below are 5 books that I plan to add to my book pile for inspiration and new perspectives.

The Creative Act: A Way Of Being

By Rick Rubin

It can be easy to get trapped in the bubble of the design world, so I look to break free and gain creative wisdom from another creative industry — music! This book offers philosophical insights on creativity and creation from the perspective of famed music producer and founder of Def Jam Recordings Rick Rubin.

Type Speaks: A Lexicon of Expressive, Emotional, and Symbolic Typefaces

By Steven Heller & Gail Anderson

Pure typographic eye candy! This book from Steve Heller and Gail Anderson looks at type as an expressive medium, showcasing the work of numerous digital foundries. Sure to inspire anyone to break free from their go-to list of typefaces. I’m looking forward to compiling a list of new-to-me digital foundries to follow and perhaps find a couple of new typefaces to use in packaging projects later this year.

A Book on Books: New Aesthetics in Book Design

victionary (publisher)

Books may nourish our minds and souls, but they can be a feast for the eyes as well! This showcase of book design from around the world will provide creative inspiration for years to come. I think this book will be a great addition to my bookshelf, both aesthetically and topically as Phil Baines’ Penguin By Design and Chip Kidd’s Book One are the only other books that I own on cover-art.

Decolonizing Design: A Cultural Justice Guidebook

By Elizabeth (Dori) Tunstall (Author), Ene Agi (Illustrator)

Dori Tunstall, Dean of the Faculty of Design at OCAD University, examines how modernist design advanced colonialism and how we might address these practices. For all of us educated in a Euro-centric design curriculum, this book provides an opportunity to understand a broader set of perspectives and unlearn our biases. I hope reading this book will help me to further understand how to be a better, more supportive member of the creative community in the ways that I engage with others.

Design against Design: Cause and Consequence of a Dissident Graphic Practice

By Kevin Yuen Kit Lo

This book will be hot off the press just as the lazy days of summer wind down. This time of year always has me longing for the excitement of going back-to-school, so it will be the perfect time to dive deep on a heavy topic: the politics of visual culture under capitalism. I’m looking forward to exploring the role design plays in our capitalistic society and how it can impact social and political change.


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