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What’s On My Bookshelf?

Books that will make you a better designer and marketer

Hot Take - reading (and even watching classes, like on CreativeLive) about design techniques, bores me.

I prefer to learn by doing, through trial and error, and by reading case studies breaking down other designers’ work. Books never really did it for me. Therefore, most of the books I still own (AKA didn’t leave at my parents' house to collect dust 😂) are along those lines, providing value through case studies, or about something peripherally related to design such as marketing or illustration.

I love books and have a weakness for purchasing any book recommendation that comes my way (Harry Potter and Brandon Sanderson fan, anyone?). So, what books do I have sitting on the shelf in my office?

Let’s go see - have I read them and how good were they? Would I still recommend them?

Welcome to the inside scoop.

Made by James by James Martin

Read - 100%

Value - 5/5 stars

Fun read filled with beautiful logo case studies and practical design, business, and work-life balance advice. Highly recommend for any logo designer, especially freelancers.

PS - he also has a logo design course here

Identity Designed by David Airey

Read - 100%

Value - 5/5 stars

Incredible book jam packed with beautiful, strategic branding and collateral. It includes behind the scenes looks into numerous top-tier design firms, their design process, business process, how they find clients, how much they charge, etc. In addition to the inspiring designs, it contains valuable business lessons for any designer.

Logo Design Love by David Airey

Read - 75%

Value 5/5 stars

I read this during college and absolutely inhaled it. Chock full of brilliant logo case studies, processes and design advice.

Atomic Habits by James Clear

Read 100%

Value 5/5 stars

LOVED this book. I actually listened to the audiobook which was a great way to fit it in during daily activities such as eating breakfast or preparing the kids’ snacks. It is full of wisdom and depth and, when implemented, affects my daily life. I started using a habit tracker after reading it. Definitely recommend for anyone who wants to level-up their daily activities and reach their goals.

I also recommend his thought-provoking weekly emails, which I’ve been receiving for a few months and find tremendously valuable and mindset-shifting. You can sign up for those here.

Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller

Read - 25%

Value - 5/5 stars

Donald Miller shares great advice on marketing and copywriting for small businesses, especially with his trademark expression - when you confuse, you lose. I had already read hundreds of his emails and attended dozens of his free webinars before getting the book, so I quickly got bored when reading it since it’s mostly the same content. But his teachings across various mediums have definitely impacted the way I approach marketing and website wireframes, so the information is valuable.

YOUtility by Jay Baer

Read - 25%

Value - 5/5 stars

I actually bought this book after recording my then-boss, Yitchok Saftlas, interviewing Jay Baer for his radio show. His take on brands offering real value and help to customers outside of their product was fascinating, so that night I hopped on Amazon and ordered his book on the topic. Never got around to finishing it, but I still hope to one day!

Sharpie Art Workshop by Timothy Goodman

Read - 0%

Value - ⅘ stars

I bought this during college, when Timothy Goodman was starting to become all the rage. He had just done his sharpie commission for Oreo and was the thing in the design world. The book has super cool illustrations in it but I never got around to sitting down with a paper and a sharpie to actually follow the tutorials within it. Its energy is exciting to be around, so there’s value in that!

HTML & CSS by Jon Duckett

Read - 50%

Value 4/5 stars

This was my college textbook for web development. It was amazingly simple and clear, well-designed and a pleasure to read. But now I wonder, why wouldn’t I just Google those things instead of buying a book? I haven’t done any coding since college so the book hasn’t been touched since then.

WSINYE White Space is not Your Enemy by Rebecca Hagen & Kim Columnbisky

Read - 25%

Value ⅖ stars

This was also a college textbook. I read a bit of it when required but never anything on my own time. The title makes a great point, though.

Creativity for Graphic Designers by Mark Oldach

Read 25%

Value ⅖ stars

This college book was required reading for the class of Professor Carol Steen. She is a renowned artist in her own right and taught me the foundations of what I know about design, colors, thinking, experimenting, and so much more. If she thought this one book was worth purchasing, then it’s worth keeping it on my shelf, even if I might never get around to actually reading it.

Don’t Make Me Think! Revisited by Steve Krug

Read 50%

Value 4/5 stars

I still remember, around 8 years later, that this book was a really fun read! It teaches UX/UI design principles with a casual tone and practical advice. I enjoyed reading it back in college and hope to one day get back to finishing it.

Stop Stealing Sheep and Find Out How Type Works by Erik Spiekerman and E. M. Ginger

Read 0%

Value ??

I literally bought this just for the awesome title. Hopefully one day I’ll actually crack it open and read it.

HOW Design Magazines

Read 300%

Value 5/5 stars

One year, when I was in college, I asked my grandparents for a design magazine subscription for my birthday. They got me HOW and if it still existed today I would resubscribe in a heartbeat for the opportunity to receive more of these in the mail. They’re full of award-winning designs, interviews with design studios, well-designed articles, *sigh*, and just so much visual inspiration. At this point they’re getting pretty old and the styles are somewhat outdated, but the creative energy emanating from them is palpable.


TBR (to be read)

There’s always more to read and learn! Here are some of the books that are currently on my reading bucket list.

The Laws of Creativity by Joey Cofone

Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

Company of One by Paul Jarvis

Pocket Full of Do by Chris Do

The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier

Hero on a Mission by Donald Miller


Have another must-read to add to the list? Let me know at!


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