Blue Note: Uncompromising Expression

In addition to its superb jazz catalog, Blue Note Records, as illustrated in the official story of the label, produced some of most striking and distinctive album covers in the history of jazz. The work of Reid Miles, in particular, used bold typography and stunning photography. The visual richness of the 400-page hardcover makes up for its lacking of critical assessment.

Mignon Fogarty: Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

Fogarty’s book is not a complete grammar reference, but it does provide tips to help you overcome the tricky grammar usages. Her explanations are clear and to the point. Furthermore, she has done all the research for us and provides us the ones that are best to apply to our own writing. Surprisingly I understood most (if not all) the tips in the book, and yet I still struggle with grammar when I write. I need to try her proofreading method of reading my work backward.

June Casagrande: Mortal Syntax

An informative read on the clobbered usage of grammar. The stories and pop-culture references that lead into the topics are entertaining, but distracting at times. I wish Ms. Casagrande got straight to the point. Still worth keeping for reference.

Product Design for the Web

Etsy’s creative director Randy Hunt provides a clear, easy-to-understand overview of product design. Recommended read for web designers who want to learn the principles of creating meaningful user experiences.

360° Industrial Design

Arman Emami’s book is a concise, comprehensive, and utilitarian primer to industrial design. Beautiful illustrations and clear writing make it a breezy read on useful topics including functionality, usability, form, colors, and materials.

Reread Adrian Frutiger Typefaces

I read the first edition of Adrian Frutiger Typefaces borrowed from the library and wanted my own copy, but the cost of $153.95 is too much for my budget. Fortunately, the second edition came out last year with a much more affordable price tag. I preordered and copped my copy for about $65 bucks. The cover doesn’t have the bounded cloth like the first edition, but it is definitely worth the bargain if you’re a type nerd.

For the reread, I focused mostly on his words. I find his honesty and modesty are as fascinating as his thinking process and design decision. For example, here is what he has to say about one of his “unsuccessful” typefaces:

Serifa is one of my worst attempts at a typeface, I think it’s fair to say. Not because of the characters that were unusual for me, but because my idea of a constructivist slab serif face was wrong for the eye. I always wanted to make readable typefaces. And Serifa just isn’t comfortable to read, it doesn’t flow well enough because of its wide fit. One could use it for posters. Serifa is pretty meaningless and yet it endures. That’s the tragic thing about typefaces, they stick around and always will. Once you design one you have to be able to stand by it.

Thanks to Heidrun Osterer and Philipp Stamm for putting together such a priceless treasure for the type community.

Inspiration of Book

Tingli’s Inspiration of Book showcases books designed to offer unique experiences. Readers can crumble a piece of paper into a ball with Play More, spill coffee on the Expresso, or even eat a Cookie Bookie. My personal favorite is Snoop Dogg’s Rolling Words: A Smokable Book. You can roll it up and smoke it. With the vast number of projects and the minimal writing make it a perfect coffee table book to flip through for inspiration.

No Place To Hide

The first two chapters of No Place To Hide capture the captivating interaction between journalist-author Glenn Greenwald, filmmaker Laura Poitras, and whistleblower Edward Snowden. Greenwald provides engaging details of his meeting with the source and his fighting with The Guardian to get the stories published. He doesn’t hold back on criticizing The Washington Post, The New York Times, and even the Obama administration. Reading this book makes me disappointed with Obama for the way he has been handling our privacy. Many thanks to Edward Snowden for putting his life on the line for us. He is truly a hero. I do hope he can come back to the US one day as a normal citizen.

The Uncertain Web

Designing for the web could be scary if you can’t accept the fact that your website won’t look the same in every device. In his recent book, Rob Larsen makes an excellent case for embracing the uncertain web. He also provides practical principles, such as progressive enhancement, fluid approach, optimal experience, to help you make the transition without intimidation.

TM: The Untold Stories Behind 29 Classic Logos

Mark Sinclair’s untold stories on iconic logo design are intriguing and inspiring. The visual illustrations help readers to see how the brands executed. From Bell System to Coca-Cola to London Underground to V&A, MT is a recommended read and reference for graphic designers.