Last year, in a bit of crowdsourcing for book discovery, we asked around for recommendations of what to read on our summer vacation and happily found several titles to add to our own list of favorites. This year we thought we’d continue the tradition and have once again surveyed our community of designers, friends and clients for suggestions of the best books they’ve recently read. Their responses include titles that have influenced their work and design thinking, as well as books they’ve simply enjoyed. We share the titles here, and you can also find them on a new bookshelf on our site. Which books will you be picking up this summer?
Richard Baker, Parade Magazine
The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth by Mark Mazzetti.
Lincoln by Gore Vidal.
Jonathan Bobrow, Potion
The book “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” is a collection of anecdotes by and interviews with Richard P. Feynman, but such wisdom in the words. Additionally, I realized Redesigning Leadership by John Maeda is a wonderful read; I just picked it up to reread, and it’s definitely a great follow-up to his book The Laws of Simplicity.
Maytal Zfadia Duek
I am currently reading Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. I am so hooked on this book that I eat, sleep and dream about it. I can’t wait to get home to read it, and even though it’s over 900 pages, I carry it with me often wherever I go. The book is set in India and it’s so well written that I can smell the scents, feel the air and identify with every wound, whether it is an emotional or a physical one. It’s so captivating.
Michelle Dupre, LIFE Books
I don’t get much time to read, as I feel I am always reading our LIFE books, but I did read one great book lately called The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes.
Barbara Gogan, LIFE Books
Modern Man in Search of a Soul by C. G. Jung. A truly amazing book. Fascinating and thought provoking.
Tom Harman, Coastermatic
I just finished the $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau, which is an inspiring reminder that as a designer you have all the skills you’ll need to go out there and create your own life.
Pamela Jue, MFA in Interaction Design, School of Visual Arts
The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.
Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon.
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg.
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.
Meghana Khandekar, MFA in Interaction Design, School of Visual Arts
Here’s a short list of my favorite books from this year:
Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon.
A General Theory of Love by Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, and Richard Lannon.
Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered by E. F. Schumacher.
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts.
Other favorites are a trio of autobiographies:
Bossypants by Tina Fey.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling.
Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain by Portia de Rossi.
Illya Szilak, Queerskins
My pick of books is The Lost Daughter by Italy’s Elena Ferrante. Brutally intimate account of a middle-aged woman’s abortive attempts to find herself and love during a summer vacation. For any woman who is a mother, this novel cuts like a hot knife.
Phillip Tiongson, Potion
In honor of the passing of Iain M. Banks, I would recommend The Player of Games and Excession. Sci-fi, smart and fun. My favorite children’s book was The Monsters’ Monster by Patrick McDonnell, a story about how your creations can get out of your control and turn out better than you expect…
Alex Todaro, MFA in Interaction Design, School of Visual Arts
As far as books go, I’m reading Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese right now and it’s great.
The Stranger by Albert Camus, translated by Matthew Ward.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera.
What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers.
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.
Tash Wong, Coastermatic
I didn’t get in much reading over the last year, but here are the two books (one fiction, one non-fiction) that I’d really recommend:
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. I really enjoy Gaiman’s novels, they have such a great blend of fantasy and reality.
The Connected Company by Dave Gray. I found Gray’s book really nicely summed up a lot of the ideas we’re exposed to at SVA IxD. The book discusses how the business and economic environment is changing and how we can reorganize businesses and teams to respond.