Part memoir, part management book, part history lesson, Creativity Inc is a somewhat meandering account of how Ed Catmull, the founder and President of Pixar turned a love for storytelling and a fascination with Disney into a career in computer science, became the leader one of the most notably creative and productive companies in the world, and eventually became the President of Disney Animation, where he helped the company he once idolized return to its former glory.
You don’t know Mike Monteiro (unless you do, you lucky dog), but he loves you. He loves you and wants you to be happy, doing good work, and getting paid fairly. Design is a Job is a pragmatic, reality-based and direct outlook on a trade that is often shrouded in mystery. You should read it now, and again in a year.
Blink is a book about “thinking without thinking” but really, it’s about how the vast majority of thinking works. The insight in this book is especially useful when dealing with people who aren’t particularly well equipped to discuss their subconscious reactions to something relatively subjective…like design.
Linchpin is the book that pulls together a lot of threads that Seth Godin has laid out there in the past, in books like Purple Cow, Tribes, and The Dip. Linchpin tells you, in no uncertain terms, that these things aren’t about brands or leadership or challenges, but about love. Really, this book is a love letter to loving your work.
This book is an golden oldie. It’s important to remember that this book was written not only a long time ago (Published March, 1997…so you know it was written sometime in 1996) but also very early into the history of the World Wide Web. It’s important to remember the context in which this book was written so that you can take some of the particular pieces of information with a grain of salt. And, since you can routinely find it on the shelves of Half Price Books for a couple of bucks, I hardily endorse it.
Merlin Mann is a productivity guru that wants you to stop worrying about rearranging deck chairs and start finding the time and focus to do your best creative work. He’s funny, zany, and prone to a really obtuse but ultimately insightful analogy. He’s internet-famous for things like Inbox Zero and The Hipster PDA; but he’s also way awesomer than that.
100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People is a list of all the bits of psychology that they should be teaching in design school. It’s neatly organized, easy to refer to, and easily the best $30 I’ve spent on books in the last few years. If you’re even remotely interested in improving the effectiveness of your designs through an understanding of cognition, this is a great place to start.
A Smile in the Mind is an in-depth examination of the use of wit in graphic design. It’s also a cogent argument for wit as a technique for building mnemonic value. “The Gag” as I used to call it (before I learned fancy words like “mnemonic”) is a valuable tool in the job box in any good designer’s brain, and with good reason. A Smile in the Mind puts concrete names and concepts behind the hunches we all have about the most popular way to make things memorable.