After designing books all year, we look forward to our annual summer vacation, when we actually have the chance to read a few. Avid readers in our youth, we regularly stayed up all night poring over books under the blanket with a flashlight. (This was back in the days before e-readers with backlit screens.) Working life makes these marathons a little more difficult, but we recently resolved to make more time for reading and wondered where to begin. We turned to our community of designers, illustrators, editors and strategists for suggestions of the best books they’ve read. Their responses, shared here, include a mix of fiction and non-fiction, for work and pleasure, alone and with family. What are you reading this summer?
Ooooo… I loved a book called Quiet by Susan Cain… It’s about the power of introverts. I saw her speak at the TED Conference and just loved her!
Jake Barton, Local Projects
I’m reading Umberto Eco’s History of Beauty. Got the idea from Ken Carbone!
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. Loved it.
Sam Potts, IDEO
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.
Waiting for the Barbarians by J. M. Coetzee.
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.
Ben Harris, Elmwood
The books I’ve been reading have generally been older:
All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy.
In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin.
An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears. Great book, this one…
Bob Sullivan, LIFE Books
I often do sideline reading on whatever book we’re working on, hoping to understand the subject better and maybe pick up some things that might make it in. So I’ve been reading Ian Fleming. When I was a kid there was too much sex and violence so I wasn’t allowed. It was great to read the first one of all, Casino Royale, and see the “gritty” Bond of the page everyone talks about. Live and Let Die was an even better novel.
But best of all: Fleming’s WWII colleague in military intelligence (the MI5s and MI6s of Bond’s world) was Graham Greene, and I read his send-up of Cold War MI6, Our Man in Havana, and it was terrific, wonderfully well written, applicable today and very funny. Either Fleming or Greene’s spy fiction would make great summer reading, and leave you ready for “Skyfall” in the autumn.
Scarves by Nicky Albrechtsen and Fola Solanke. It’s a visual reference book of silk scarves with wonderful illustrations.
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.
History of Costume by Blanche Payne, originally published in 1965.
Dora Chomiak, Inflection Point Strategy
We just finished reading From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. We read it out loud as a family. The girls were laughing out loud at some parts of it. I loved it as a kid and also as an adult.
Alon Koppel, FusionLab
Earlier this year I finished reading the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins––not really business related, but that was part of the fun, getting my mind away from daily life… I am currently reading Ray Bradbury’s short story collection Quicker than the Eye. I also just started reading The Invention of Everything Else, written by Samantha Hunt, someone I met upstate. It’s a fictional story about the life of Nikola Tesla.
I’m afraid my tastes are not too mainstream! I did read something by Kathryn Harrison called Seeking Rapture, which I liked a lot… It’s about her life with her kids and reminiscing back to being raised by her grandmother.
Kelly Doe and family, The New York Times
For now, most recently, around our breakfast table:
The War to End All Wars by Adam Hochschild.
The Fifties by David Halberstam.
Nemesis by Jo Nesbø.
The Ice Balloon by Alec Wilkinson.
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson.
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes.
Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood.
IQ84 by Haruki Murakami.
A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace.
Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.
Bill Shapiro, Zola Books
Mother Come Home. I don’t typically reach for graphic novels, but Paul Hornschemeier’s book has such amazing depth and emotion and cinematic surprise that I not only loved this book but bought it for a dozen friends. They loved it, too.
Eliza Amon, Bloomberg L.P.
Little Bee by Chris Cleave––my favorite book lately.
Liz Danzico, Bobulate
The Cloudspotter’s Guide by Gavin Pretor-Pinney.
There are more here: http://bobulating.tumblr.com
Parlan McGaw, Heart of Acting
I reread Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and discovered what a fantastic book it is––funny, moving, and profound. And just fantastic storytelling––what a pleasure to read. I’m now reading Running with the Mind of Meditation: Lessons for Training Body and Mind by Sakyong Mipham. Though it’s ostensibly for runners, it’s really for anyone. It’s a very accessible and practical guide to meditation and to using meditation in other activities in your life. Really good.
Lisa Mazur, L. Mazur & Co.
For the kids, I picked up a Seymour Chwast book, Bobo’s Smile, which is only about 12 pages with awesome illustrations and a funny sense of humor (of course).
Harry Segal, Segal Savad
11/22/63 by Stephen King was fantastic!
Greg Castillo’s Cold War on the Home Front, a fascinating history of how modernist design was used to sell American consumerism as a proxy for democracy in the 1950s.
Jennifer Kinon, Original Champions of Design
Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma––and that was on vacation last year.
Ronnie Peters, Planet Three Sixty
The Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson was really good.
Stephanie Helline, Strategic Design Studio
I did read a lot on vacation. For once, no business books!
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.
Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos.
The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar.
Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff.
Julia Hoffmann, MoMA Design Studio
I truly enjoyed Tina Fey’s Bossypants this year. For laugh-out-loud subway rides, I think I’m going to read it again.