Persepolis (Dutch Version)

Rating: 5/5

The life story of Marjane Satrapi, told and illustrated by Marjane Satrapi. A graphic novel that holds the perfect balance between the grim realities of a war-torn youth and a type of subtle humour I find hard to describe. I found it at the same time entertaining, intellectually challenging and light enough to read on a Sunday afternoon. I read the Dutch translation.

The Architecture of Happiness

Rating: 5/5

Alain de Botton is one of my favourite contemporary philosophers. In this book, he explains with apt examples how our environment can make us feel pleasant, or unhappy. Many principles from this book translate well to other forms of design. One of the most important books I ever read.

Wabi–Sabi: Further Thoughts

Rating: 5/5

Further exploration and explanation of Wabi–Sabi. Specifically the sections about “can Wabi–Sabi exist in digital form” and a comparison between Wabi–Sabi and The Modern Project made me want to go out, walk and enjoy the world. Wonderful book.

Wabi–Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers

Rating: 5/5

Even the form of this book lives and breathes the principles and philosophy described inside. In a digital age, this is necessary, mandatory reading. Changed the way I look at the world. Very powerful.

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth

Rating: 5/5

Hands down the best graphic novel I have read to date. Very entertaining and witty with incredible intertextual and cultural references. The drawing style is loose and perfectly fits the story. One of a kind.

The Medium is the Massage

Rating: 5/5

Visionary essay on media by Marshall McLuhan, made understandable by graphic designer Quentin Fiore. This is mandatory reading for anyone who is interested in communication in the 21st century. Fun fact: the title was a mistake at first. McLuhan’s adagium was “the medium is the message”. However, it is generally accepted he left it as is because it was an apt play of words.

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

Rating: 5/5

Such an important book. Shows the path to lead a fulfilling life through the concept of mental flow. Written with a ton of scientific background references, mixed with own studies and clear examples. Told in an understandable manner.

Design is a Job

Rating: 4/5

If you’re starting a business in the creative industry, this is a book you need to read and re-read every three months. Actually, that goes for anyone in the services industry.

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

Rating: 4/5

Dale Carnegie is the Tim Ferris of his time. Excellent book that is both entertaining and useful—however you like to take it. Gave me insight and some neat tricks to stop worrying—a wake up call so to speak.

Some advice is religiously-tinted and may therefore sound a bit dated. There is also a lot of show-by-telling of things that were relevant in the early 1940s. But if you translate it to today’s society and read the book in its context, you will find principles that you can apply in your life right now anyway.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Rating: 4/5

A book that dives deep into why we make certain choices. Provides clear examples and interesting studies, some of which I still contemplate when I design. Shows how to influence people’s choices. If you use this to do good, it can be very powerful. One of my favourites.

Silk

Rating: 4/5

A good friend of mine recommended Alessandro Baricco. The first book I read was “Silk”. I read this on the plane to New-Zealand. Silk is a tiny book and very pleasant to read. I really like the way Baricco plays with conventional ways of storytelling. Somehow, he manages to transport me to France and Japan with just a few sentences.

The Psychology / Design of Everyday Things

Rating: 4/5

A classic. I read The Psychology of Everyday Things as part of my graphic design curriculum at the Media & Design Academie. It profoundly changed the way I look at things. The title of the book has since been updated to The Design of Everyday Things, but the message and content are still the same. Pleasant to read and full of wisdom. Don Norman at his best!

How to Travel With a Salmon & Other Essays

Rating: 4/5

Lovely book by Umberto Eco. I read this on the plane to Japan and I burst out into laughter more than once. Eco’s writing style is unparalleled. Great entertainment.

Supercrash (Dutch Version)

Rating: 3/5

Graphic novel that provides background to the events leading up to the economic and political earthquakes of the beginning of the 21st century. The author succeeds in making otherwise somewhat dry material appealing for a wider audience. The story mainly revolves around poking holes in objectivist philosophy developed by Ayn Rand. Interesting read if you want to understand the events of the early 2000’s better. The graphic style and story are a bit too apocalyptic for my taste, and I thought some story lines were a bit simplistic or lacked nuance. I guess there’s only so much you can put in a graphic novel.

Consumer Behaviour

Rating: 3/5

Title says it all. Solid book, but nothing very memorable. Do yourself a pleasure and read Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion first.