20 books designers should read this summer

6 minutes read

I know that Designers are constantly trying to learn and research more about design techniques, fonts and any other tips that can improve their designs. There is always more you can learn about design.

One sure way you can do that is by reading. And because it’s summer and you have some spare quality time, we round up 20 must read books for designers. Happy reading!

1. Know Your Onions

Banner Design Know Your Onions

This book is a practical guide for anyone who want’s their onions in graphic design. It teaches you how to “think creative, act like a businessman and design like a God”. It’s really easy to read and it gives away a lot of secrets and tips along the way.


2. Thoughts on Design

Banner Design Thoughts on Design

Although the book is book from the 70s, it is still very relevant for the 21st century designer. Since the book is out of print for almost 40 years, it is really expensive to buy one but it is fully worth it. Prices can go up to 200$ on Amazon. But the good news is that Chronicle books plans to republish the book.


3. The Creator’s Code

Banner Design The Creator's Code

Although this book is meant for entrepreneurs it is a great book for designers too. Entrepreneurs, just as Designers, are constantly trying to solve problems. This book is a great inspiration source for those who are in the process of seeking solutions for a problem.


4. How to be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul

Banner Design How to be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul

An outspoken best seller, Adrian Shaughnessy’s book  is a great guide for young designers. The author shares his personal experiences and gives advice on starting a studio and finding work.It’s professional advice written in an easy to read manner with no complex vocabulary.


5. The Elements of Graphic Design

Banner Design The Elements of Graphic Design

The book covers visual communication and basic design principles such as space, typography and symmetry. It contains over 750 images and is a great source of inspiration for designers regardless of experience.


6. Big Brand Theory

Banner Design Big Brand Theory

Branding is a very important part of design. Good brands communicate effectively and this book features some great examples. From successful brands such as Lacoste, Converse, Nike, H&M and many others, this book is an inspiration for all designers.


7. Type Matters!

Banner Design Type Matters

From the history of type design to the anatomy of a letterform, this bible of typography is a must read. If you’re a designer and you haven’t read it yet, drop everything and go buy a copy!


8. The Non-Designer’s Design Book

Banner Design The Non-Designer's Design Book

Don’t let the title mislead you. This book covers basic design principles with lots of examples that makes it really easy to understand. There are lots to learn even if you are an experienced designer.


9. Creative Anarchy

Banner Design Creative Anarchy

Sometimes not everything is about following a set of rules. Sometimes you have to think outside of the box and be bold! This is exactly what Denise Bosler promotes through her book.


10. Just My Type: A Book About Fonts – Just like “Type Matters!”

Banner Design Just My Type - A Book About Fonts

Simon Garfield’s book is a must read font study for every font geek. From explaining the hate we have for “Comic Sans” to how “Helvetica” took over the world, the author covers a lot of fonts related modern mysteries.


11. The Elements of Typographic Style

Banner Design The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst

A reference on modern typography it explores the art and history of the field with lots of design examples. It also covers digital typography.


12. Thinking with Type

Banner Design Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton

One of the best selling books on typography, this book that will tell you everything about letters, fonts, grids and much more.


13. Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products

Banner Design Jony Ive - The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products

We all know who Jony Ive is. One of the Apples pioneers, he designed iconic products such as iMac, iPhone, iPad and many others. In this book, we walk along his path towards becoming the great designer that shaped Apple as we know it now.


14. The Vignelli Canon

Banner Design The Vignelli Canon

Massimo Vignelli book is, hands down, one of the best graphic design manual ever written. The book is divided in two parts. A theoretical one that sums up the main concept and rules of design and a practical one where he shows some of his own designs.


15. Thinking, Fast and Slow

Banner Design Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

In order to be good designer, you need to know how people think so you can design better. Daniel Kahneman shows in his bestseller the two systems that govern our thinking. The first one is fast, emotional and always on a rush. The second one is more analytical, rational and way more slower.


16. Creativity, Inc

Banner Design Creativity, Inc

Pixar is by far one of the most creative companies in the world. So who else more qualified to talk about creativity than Pixar’s co-founder, Ed Catmull. The principles and beliefs that shaped Pixar’s creative movies can be applied to foster creativity in any environment.


17. Designing Brand Identity

Banner Design Designing Brand Identity by Alina Wheeler

This is one of the most popular book on branding and identity. it explains the difference between concepts such as Brand and Brand Identity. The writer outlines a process and various case studies for building strong brands and strong identities.


18. Universal Principles of Design

Banner Design Universal Principles of Design by William Lidwell, Kritina Holden and Jill Butler

Very well written, with lots of interesting facts this book is a complete guide if you want to gain better understanding of general design principles.


19. Creative Confidence

Banner Design Creative Confidence

It is widely believed that creativity area is just for the “creative types”. Well the authors of this book think differently. Tom and David Kelley give a set of principles and strategies that can boost our creative process.


20. 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People

Banner Design 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People

The last but not the least, this is another book that designers must read. It covers subjects like “what grabs and holds attention on a page or screen” or “ Are some fonts better than others” (And yes, there are. Go home Comic Sans, no one likes you) .



Do you have any suggestions for what should be on this list?


Andrei Florea


  1. #8 looks promising! :)

  2. Thanks for putting a great list together. I have a few of these already, and all of those were outstanding books so gives confidence that the others are great too!

    My problem is time… I have so many books still to read. Where I do have time is when walking to to the train station or driving, which is my opportunity to listen to audio books and podcasts. Do you have any audio recommendations? So far I’ve only been able to find ‘Design is a job’ as an audio which I recommend, but not been able to find anything else to add to the list design related.

  3. thanks for sharing this list of book not only on this summer i going to read
    on the winter time to thanks guys !!

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