The Best ‘Design’ Books That Aren’t Explicitly About Design.

Daniel Burka
Dec 4, 2017 · 4 min read

I asked a whole bunch of designers what books, which weren’t specifically about digital or graphic design, inspired them. And, wow I got a ton of great responses. Here are twelve of the most popular recommendations:

1. The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs

Technically about city planning but everything to do with designing for humans

2. The Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander

The classic on design patterns

3. Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder

Epidemiology meets design

4. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward Tufte

Tufte’s classic on information design. Not just for your coffee table.

5. How Buildings Learn by Stewart Brand

Why some systems are more adaptable than others

6. Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

Poetry meets design

7. Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud

On storytelling…

8. Good Strategy, Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt

Business + design

9. The Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker

Suggested by Michael Beirut from legendary design group Pentagram

10. Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

NYTimes bestseller on understanding mental glitches

11. Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella Meadows

Get out from in front of your screen

12. Creativity Inc by Ed Catmull

Pixar’s secret sauce

Google Design

Stories by Googlers on the people, product, and practice of UX at Google

Daniel Burka

Written by

Daniel is a designer and product manager. He works on Simple.org

Google Design

Stories by Googlers on the people, product, and practice of UX at Google. For editorial content and more visit design.google

Daniel Burka

Written by

Daniel is a designer and product manager. He works on Simple.org

Google Design

Stories by Googlers on the people, product, and practice of UX at Google. For editorial content and more visit design.google

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