Never underestimate the power of a good book! It has the power to move you, make you feel a thousand fold and leave you with an unsettling feeling of wanting more. The thing about books, as Jhumpa Lahiri rightly says, is they let you travel without moving your feet. Designers, in their quest for birthing new ideas everyday, should ideally be advent book readers, to expand their idea bank and develop a secret treasure of knowledge and stories.
Apart from learning the technicalities in course material, it is necessary to read books outside this sphere, where design is expressed as stories woven in words, and philosophies waiting to be absorbed. Let’s look at five books every designer should read!
1. The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life
Written by Twyla Tharp with Mark Reiter, The Creative Habit is a contemporary guide and outlook towards leading daily life, in a much more inventive way. It inspires the reader to incorporate imagination in routine monotonous jobs, to effectively make life more interesting as well as develop and hone creativity.
Its a sad notion in our country, that creativity can only be expressed through drawings, paintings, art and craft, and lyrical writing. Such a small view of such a big word! Creativity is unlimited, and as Maya Angelou says, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have!”
Using creativity for life, is fairly good advise by these acomplished writers and every designer should make it a point to read this piece.
2. How to:
How To, by Michael Bierut, is a volume of genius by the World’s most renowed graphic designer. The name itself, betrays a lot about the book, but don’t get fooled. The principles of design discussed in this book are so universally applicable, that it doesn’t matter what stream in design you are pursuing, you can learn handy tips regardless.
A story that motivated you, Michael Beirut has undoubtedly made it big in life and the life lessons one can gather from it (specially a designer) are priceless and can lead to success if only one guards their vision just as Michael did.
How to, is a book no designer should miss, for unlocking the wisdom of design and life.
3. How to win friends and influence people:
Who knows the importance of making contacts and influencing people more than designers? As a creative professional, we need to make sure that we develop the right disposition to land good projects as well as to communicate our idea to the client. Communication skills are imperative in the design field, as you not only have to sell your idea for a billionaire to invest in, but also explain the labours how to carry it out.
Dale Carnegie, the best selling author of How to win friends and influence people, has sold over 30 million copies of the book worldwide, and rightly so. The book is a detailed guide on how one can acquire a charming personality, and sway people in the direction of our liking. And isn’t that every designer’s dream?!
Even as a self help book, this masterpiece by Carnegie doesn’t get preachy or boring, as it relies on a lot of interesting stories to get it’s point across. The writer also challenges, readers with daily tasks, activities and social chores to get the friendly nature kickstarted. All in all, a must read for all designers.
4. Dan Brown:
Yeah yeah I know, Dan Brown is the author, not the name of a book. But sue me, I couldn’t put my finger on any one book of his which is integral to a designer’s growth. Every one of his cover, is an absolute sensation, and pulls the reader deeper and deeper into it’s web. The stories revolve around the mysteries of the universe, art, architecture, fabled writing, myths, legends, religions, different cultures, languages, symbols, iconography and imagery, cult organizations, ciphers and ancient traditions, technology, science fiction, and what not!!
Even though the writing is an amalgamation of the ancient and the contemporary, mixing hi tech gadgets with old religious verses, describing the high spires of medieval cathedrals as well as the modern strokes of contemporary museums, the story is the hero. One just cannot put the book down, as the gripping tale transversing several countries, cultures and places, keeps the reader hooked on.
The ability of Dan Brown, to weave complex researched material ranging from the wide avenues of design, in an engrossing thriller novel, is why every designer should read his work. The knowledge of European art and architecture, with fiction is a combination one shouldn’t pass.
5. The Fountainhead:
The reason every one of these lists, feature this classic by Ayn Rand, is that a book of this stature just cannot be ignored. The Fountainhead, is the story of an Architect, way ahead of his time, who upholds his principles and design philosophies, high, even when the whole world ridicules his preposterous approach to design. Ingraining the important lesson to guard your dreams and not get overrun by the herd mentality of the society, Ayn Rand does a fine job in provoking the designer.
The book makes you angry, makes you squirm, makes you weep, makes you happy, but most importantly, it makes you think. The Protagonist, Howard Roark, has the power to simultaneously make the audience feel proud of him as well as sorry for him. The classic story outlines the mistakes of our past, and threatens to overthrow all of society’s shackles about what and how people should think.
Read this classic tale, just for it’s audacity, to learn how to believe in yourself as a designer and to understand how to trust your own instincts, even in the worst of times.
There are infinite ideas about design, infinite ways to think and infinite roads to take. As a result there are innumerable books about the topic, and one should try to consume them all. However, this humble list of 5 books, is a must to get you started.