This book collection contains various design manuals, including business guidance, inclusive design advice, and creative inspiration.

  • A well-rounded book collection, therefore, provides more than simply how-tos. We've divided our recommendations into five categories so you may create a well-balanced bookshelf that will keep you intrigued, challenged, and inspired: color, typography, and structure; business and prof development; inclusive design; books to think; books for your inspiration.

Let's get started.

Color, typography, and structure

Add these design books to your personal library's reference section.

1. "The Designer's Dictionary of Color" by Adams Sean

It isn't your typical color wheel. The book by Sean Adams also includes an in-depth analysis of 30 colors that are important in art and design. Warm, cool, neutral, and specialty hues are divided by color harmonies into four categories — warm (reds and oranges), cool (blues and grays), neutral (greens and browns), and specialty (whites) — and examples are used to illustrate how various colors and tones evoke certain sentiments.

2. "Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students" by Ellen Lupton

The new edition of the book continues where the first left off, building on Ellen Lupton's already solid foundation. To illustrate how type affects visual communication, Ellen employs a blend of essays, real-world examples, theoretical ideas, and activities. The up-to-date version addresses web-specific typographical difficulties such as font pairing and licensing picture captions and web design. It contains great references for anyone who works with words.

3. "Geometry of Design" by Kimberly Elam

Kimberly explains the role of geometry in creating aesthetically beautiful designs. The geometric aspect of the invention is discussed in detail throughout the book, which includes examples from architecture to painting. Some pages also have transparency.

4. "Drawing Type: An Introduction to Illustrating Letterforms" by Alex Fowkes

If you learn by doing, Alex Fowkes's Drawing Type: An Introduction to Illustrating Letterforms is the book for you. This book is both a manual and a workbook, allowing you to put your new skills to the test (literally) in the hands-on portion of the book. This book will introduce 20 typefaces through interviews with type designers and tiny sketch pieces that demonstrate the process.

5. "The Secret Lives of Color" by Kassia St. Clair

Journey through the colorful histories of 75 distinct hues with Kassia St. Claire's book. Why do some colors make you feel joyful or angry? What is the origin of specific colors? Why do so many different shades of brown exist when they all seem to be the same shade of dark coffee? This book addresses this question and many others.

Business and prof development

Are you ready to create art that can also generate money? These books cover the business side of design in further detail.

6. "How to Be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul" by Adrian Shaughnessy

Adrian Shaughnessy's book is an excellent guide if you're just getting started in marketing. Adrian discusses winning bids, understanding briefs, dealing with demanding clients, and more in this book. Although this isn't as deep or complex as the book's name might imply, it does encourage younger designers to consider their work. In addition, you'll be able to learn from seasoned professionals through the interviews that are included in the book.

7. "Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits" by Debbie Millman

Debbie Millman, the award-winning author, and designer, explores the link between branding and design in the book. It is a collection of interviews with various well-known designers, marketers, and authors — making it quick to read in little bursts. Debbie's discussions with other brilliant minds might help open your mind to different viewpoints on branding and design.

8. "Copy this Book: An Artist's Guide to Copyright" by Eric Schrijver

This book by Eric Schrijver is a book you should make copies of. With a legal expert, Julien Cabay, Eric explains the fundamentals of copyright law, including how to copyright your work, what length those rights endure and how copyright works across different platforms.

9. "Freelance, and Business, and Stuff" by Amy Hood & Jen Hood

In the book, Amy and Jen Hood offer a wealth of helpful information. Amy and Jen's lessons, humor, and hands-on worksheets can help anybody looking to make money with their skills. This book covers essential subjects such as freelance finances, contracts, and expanding your client base.‍

10. "Branding: In Five and a Half Steps" by Michael Johnson

The importance of design in branding is discussed by author and graphic designer Michael Johnson. This book combines images and well-researched case studies that aim to teach the reader about how companies develop. For example, Michael's analysis of the brand development process may help you consider branding from a design standpoint.

Inclusive design

Everyone can benefit from the lovely appearance. These books teach you how to make the design more inclusive, accessible, and diverse.

11. "Mismatch: How Inclusion Shapes Design" by Kat Holmes

In the book, Kat Holmes challenges the idea that designers should design for the majority and deal with "mismatches" later on. Instead, Kat claims that beginning with inclusion in mind generates more creativity and innovation and more practical design for everyone. It's a critical issue, made abundantly clear in stories of designers who have experienced prejudice firsthand and were compelled to engineer more inclusive answers.

12. "Cross-Cultural Design" by Senongo Akpem

Because the internet is global and multicultural, you should design your products to reflect this. The book by Senongo Akpem gives a structure for conducting user research in various cultures and how to apply that knowledge to meaningful, inclusive design.

13. "Don't Make Me Think" by Steve Krug

Steve Krug's book is about web development. Steve discusses the concepts of intuitive navigation and web usability in a conversational tone, making this an easy and quick read. The book includes three new themes: user experience, metrics, and usability, as well as improved tools to manage the content of your website.

14. "A Web for Everyone: Designing Accessible User Experiences" by Sarah Horton, Whitney Quesenbery

Sarah Horton and Whitney Quesenbery's book is a must-have for anyone developing websites. Sarah and Whitney explain accessibility in terms of thinking about and approaching design, not simply as a couple of checkboxes you look at near the end of a project.

15. "The Senses: Design Beyond Vision" by Ellen Lupton, Andrea Lipps

The book's subtitle, Design Beyond Vision (edited by Ellen Lupton and Andrea Lipps), implies that it challenges the reader to consider more than just the visual elements of design. The exhibition based on the same name was the catalyst for this book, inviting readers to try various tactile design experiences. The book is organized into six parts, focusing on a distinct subject. You'll see lovely pictures, photographs, and thought-provoking writings by renowned designers throughout the book. If you're searching for some fresh ideas, this book is for you.

Books to think

Design books stimulate your mind to learn design's cognitive, psychological, and functional aspects.

16. "The Art of Looking Sideways" by Alan Fletcher

The book is a 1,000-page essay on life and love by Alan Fletcher. It contains quotes, images, musings, science, and more in its 72 chapters. This hefty coffee table book is more of a source of motivation than a guide. Its structure makes it ideal for dipping in and out whenever you need inspiration.

17. "I Wonder" by Marian Bantjes

The book is a work of art, with gold and silver foils gleaming across the pages, written by Marian Bantjes and typographically illustrated by herself. Marian discusses issues ranging from pasta forms to English letterforms in many essays.

18. "The Shape of Design" by Frank Chimero

In the book, author and illustrator Frank Chimero examines the design from a more theoretical than practical standpoint. In this book, Frank encourages readers to think about the how and why of design, the source of creative blockages, and the influence of design.

19. "The Design of Everyday Things" by Norman Donald A.

Don Norman's book will pique your interest if you've ever wondered how a product was designed or complained about it. Don Taylor explores what makes a design succeed or fail, then shares design principles and techniques that aid in creating user-friendly interfaces. Although some of the concepts are a bit outdated — such as rotary phones — the psychology and insight behind the suggestions are still valid.

Books for your inspiration

While not all of them belong in a bookstore's design section, these books are worthy of inclusion on your bookshelf. This blend of fiction, graphic novels, and even children's books will encourage you to consider design from new perspectives.

20. "Self-Portrait as Your Traitor" by Debbie Millman

Debbie Millman's book is another example, a collection of illustrated essays and poems. Debbie uses her own words and thoughtful typography to share her thoughts. Read this book if you're searching for a visually stimulating method to get your creative juices flowing.

 21. "Invisible Cities" by Italo Calvino

Italo Calvino's book transports you to 55 different cities, fantastic yet instructive. This book, unlike typical novels, focuses on city planning and ideas rather than narrative and characters. Consider it a trippy take on user research. While the book is short enough to read in one sitting, you may appreciate the visual descriptions.

22. "Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art" by Scott McCloud

The book explores the visual language of comics. This book will engage and keep you, whether you're a long-time comics fan or just getting into the business. Scott discusses how our brains interpret comics and how visual narrative has been present in many civilizations throughout history.

23. "The Longest Day of the Future" by Lucas Varela

Lucas Varela's book shows that language isn't always necessary to convey a compelling narrative. Through the lens of sci-fi clichés, this wordless graphic novel offers a criticism of consumerism. Read this book to learn how clear visuals may convey a message as effectively as written words.

24. "Aaron Becker's Wordless Trilogy" by Aaron Becker

Aaron Brecker's artwork is featured throughout three wordless volumes, including Journey, Quest, and Return. These novels, which should be shelved in the children's section, are lovely for all ages. The trilogy tells the tale of youngsters who use colored pencils to create entirely new worlds.

Which design book from the list has interested you?

You have added some of these books to your shopping cart or decided it's time to visit the library or bookstore. We're eagerly anticipating what these books will inspire you to do.