The books in this list, in no particular order, are books that I feel a strong emotion about – books that I love, books that inspired me, that I have a soft place in my heart for. There is some distinct overlap with the 10 Books – Influence list, but I tried to make this list stand alone.
- The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles – Steven Pressfield
- Visit Sunny Chernobyl: And Other Adventures in the World’s Most Polluted Places – Andrew Blackwell
- Universal Principles of Design, Revised and Updated: 125 Ways to Enhance Usability, Influence Perception, Increase Appeal, Make Better Design Decisions, and Teach through Design – William Lidwell
- Meaty: Essays by Samantha Irby, Creator of the Blog BitchesGottaEat – Samantha Irby
- The Heart and the Bottle – Oliver Jeffers
- Cinematic Storytelling – Jennifer Van Sijll
- Red Mars (Mars Trilogy, #1) – Kim Stanley Robinson
- On Repeat: How Music Plays the Mind – Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis
- Motion Graphics: Graphic Design for Broadcast and Film – Steve Curran
- The Empathy Exams: Essays – Leslie Jamison
I was introduced to this book by my brainshare, and I have referred to it many times in my battles. It taught me that I am not alone, that many artists face the same kind of struggle, and that there is a way to get past it – the same way that many other books of this kind have espoused. work. Art is work, and if you work at it you will be just fine. If you don’t work at it and wallow in self doubt that’s all you will ever get. Inspiration doesn’t strike the guy who’s reogranizing his closet, but the guy who, every day, sits down and tries to find it.
A story not only of traveling to distant places but the thread of a lost love winding through it, and his accidental discovery of something each of these damaged and disastrously toxic places…well, I’ll let you find out for yourself. An altogether enjoyable read, and completely unexpected in how much I enjoyed it.
Universal Principles of Design, Revised and Updated: 125 Ways to Enhance Usability, Influence Perception, Increase Appeal, Make Better Design Decisions, and Teach through Design – William Lidwell
Recommended to me by a respected advisor Chip Wood (once again), this book is worth its weight in gold for those who know how to use it. I constantly refer to this book when I’m looking for another way to wow in my designs. These are the basic, fundamental ways in which design impacts human perception of it, and I actually bought the expanded edition because I thought 25 more hints would be worth the extra money I’d spend buying it again.
I haven’t laughed my way through a book like I did this one since…ever. I highlighted like 80% of the damn book on my Paperwhite because it was raw, it was true, and it was real. And really fucking funny.
“Being jealous because some bitch has a dude is like being jealous of a goddamned stomachache: I’ve had one before; and while what I did to get it might have been fun, once I’m actually stuck with it, it kind of TOTALLY FUCKING SUCKS. If I knew one single woman who was marrying UP I might change my tune, but everyone I know is sucking the dick of a regular, broke-ass dude.”
This is a short, simple story about grief and loss and the urge to protect yourself. It was given to me by a friend after the loss of my companion, and so profoundly touching and real that I sent a copy to my other friend who had also recently experienced loss. It is a beautiful story, beautifully drawn, and I wept as I read it.
This book was maybe the first one I really “got” about cinematography and storytelling – it’s also a beautifully-photographed, well-illustrated work and taught me so much about videography and cinematography in general. It showed me rather than just telling me – and the wordy telling is so confusing. Take for example this explanation of the 180-degree-rule on Wikipedia:
“In a dialogue scene between two characters, Daniel (orange shirt, frame left in the diagram) and Lucas (blue shirt, frame right), the camera may be placed anywhere on the green 180° arc and the spatial relationship between the two characters will be consistent from shot to shot, even when one of the characters is not on screen. Shifting to the other side of the characters on a cut, so that Lucas is now on the left side and Daniel is on the right, may disorient the audience.”
This book, though, illustrated with shots from the scenes of recent films I have seen, and explains bit by bit what these things mean. To a visual person, this was invaluable.
For some reason I am fascinated with the exploration and colonization of Mars. The cold hard reality but the inevitability of it, too. If we go anywhere, we will go there. This book took it as a reality, and extrapolated the future of mars colonization through the series. It’s human, it’s fascinating, and it offers gems of insight that I didn’t expect form a sci-fi book:
“People didn’t understand that true intimacy did not consist of sexual intercourse, which could be done with strangers and in a state of total alienation; intimacy consisted of talking for hours about what was most important in one’s life.”
Caveat: I sent a copy of this book to a friend and they called it sophomoric and shallow, but I found the hard science and sociology fit my worldview rather nicely, thank you.
Once a musician, always a musician. And once a researcher into humankind, always a researcher into humankind. Like an extensive journal article about some specific subset of human behavior, this book, in between the difficult articles in esoteric professional journals and the populist Stephen Pinker science, this challenging book explores the intersection of thought and music. I’ve long been trying to figure out how to make a supercut of certain cuts of music form different genres and artists – the thrilling moments and the parts that get stuck in your f=head…I don’t have that path clear yet, but this book provided me some foundational science on the road to discovery that I truly love reading. When I want to escape, I don’t read chick lit, I read this.
Music psychology has been busy looking at the ways in which music might be similar to language, but Richman, Tannen, and others might be understood to be asking the inverse question, when is language processed musically? This question has been examined in terms of beat structure and intonation, but it might also be considered in terms of repetition structure: highly repetitive forms of language, such as chants and nursery rhymes, veer away from the typical syntactic and semantic modes of understanding speech, and toward modes of comprehension that are more characteristically musical—emotive, social, and holistic.
Motion Graphics: Graphic Design for Broadcast and Film – Steve Curran
This book was my first motion graphics book – bought at HPB on Northwest Highway, it was my first-first foray into discovering what I wanted to do for a living. Although that career hasn’t worked out just yet, it fascinated me, and this now-horribly-out-of -ate book, which chronicled my sub-obsession of title design and motion graphics in detail, brought me one step closer to realizing my love of design in motion. It’s more of a nostalgic pick than a “go out and buy this pick” because every time I see this book I feel the warm fuzzies. Ah, the days when anything was possible…
The Empathy Exams: Essays – Leslie Jamison
I was inspired by this article by Leslie Jamison, author of a book I stumbled upon called The Empathy Exams. I’m not saying go read that book, because it’s a hard heart-rending, devastating read that I can only take in moments of extreme loss and half of you would be dissolved by it. But, I digress.
In the article, Leslie says [emphasis mine],
Confessional writing often gets a bad rap. People call it self-absorbed, solipsistic, self-indulgent. Who wants to hear another 30-year-old going on and on about her damage? But when I published a collection of “confessional” essays this spring, The Empathy Exams, full of personal material (an abortion, heart surgery, getting punched in the face by a stranger) – I started to feel like confession could be the opposite of solipsism. My confessions elicited responses. They coaxed chorus like a brushfire.
And sometimes that sharing is what we need. It’s been a hard year for me, a hard year after years I thought were the worst, and hearing that someone else had struggled so mightily with their own damn heart touched me in ways I still can’t fathom.
If you wanna see which 30 books I am currently slowly reading or in denial about probably never finishing, find me on Goodreads!