Matthew Polly: Bruce Lee

Of course I have heard of Bruce Lee, but I didn’t exactly know about his life. I am so glad I picked up Polly’s book, which is an impressive, definitive, 500-page biography of Bruce Lee. With deep research and thorough interviews, Polly sheds a light on Lee’s short, accomplished life and the cause of his death. As a kung fu practitioner himself, Polly explains Lee’s contemporary techniques, which combined kung fu with street fighting, with engaging details. If you want to learn the comprehensive story of Lee’s life, this book is the one to read.

Timothy Samara: Letterforms

From historical background to character detail, this book focuses on every aspect of the letterforms. With clear visual illustrations and concise explanations, Samara provides insights into the process of type design. If you are interested in type study, this book is for you.

Layout Now

An inspiring resource for grid-based design, Layout Now is uniquely bounded into four sections. Each section is divided up by different paper size. The first three parts provide basic principles for making a solid layout. The last part shows real examples with deconstructions to demonstrate how the layouts are built. Even though I wish it has more text explaining the concept behind each layout, the book is good to flip through for layout ideas.

Gerard Unger: Theory of Type Design

A breezy overview of type design from theory to history. Rich visual examples and beautiful typesetting make it a perfect gift for students as well as anyone who would like an introduction to the world of typography. A delightful read.

David Scott Kastan with Stephen Farthing: On Color

The authors take a weird approach to explain colors. Yellow, for instance, is about the skin color of Asian people. At first, Asians were seen as white, but then perceived as yellow over a period of time. On green, the authors delved into political colors. If you want to learn about color theory for graphic design, this book is not going to teach anything. It’s not an exciting read.

June Casagrande: The Joy of Syntax

This is another informing book on grammar from Casagrande. She explains syntax in a clear, comprehensible, and joyful writing. Her examples help seeing how sentences are constructed. Although I know most of the rules, I still trip up grammar when I write. Here are a few guides I have noted.

On page 42, Casagrande shows the apostrophe-less adjective:

Often, the implied word for comes into play. If it’s a policy for homeowners, the apostrophe is commonly omitted: homeowners policy. If it’s a massage for couples, you’re likely to see it written couples massage.

On page 91, she explains be:

So be is a base form. You’d use it to replace is, am, or are when employing the subjunctive mood.

He is here.
It’s crucial that he be here.

You are nice.
It’s crucial that you be nice.

I am ready.
It’s crucial that I be ready.

On page 92, she shows how the verbs don’t change in the subjunctive form:

He walks. — It’s crucial that he walk. (Note: No s)
He is. — It’s crucial that he be. (Present tense)

On page 93, she demonstrates the contrary-to-fact meaning:

If Mary were alive
(The speaker knows Mary is not alive.)

If Mary was alive at the time
(Mary may have been alive.)

On page 169, she explains the use of the singular they:

Singular they, them, and their fill a need in the language. English has no designated third person singular personal pronoun that isn’s gender specific. He and she are third person singular, but you’re assigning a sex to someone when you use one of these.

On page 170, she provides some examples:

Everyone should keep their car locked.

Anybody caught out after 11 p.m. knows their movie privileges will be revoked.

Someone who loves me said they will come to my defense.

I highly recommend this book for a crash course on grammar.

Brené Brown: Braving the Wilderness

In the first chapter, Ms. Brown gives a remarkable account of her personal experience in finding her true belonging. For the rest of the book, she shares her research and advice on dealing with loneliness, connecting with people who have different political views, and kicking the bullshit. After the engaging beginning, the book drags on even though it has less than 200 pages. It’s a passable read.

Terese Maria Mailhot: Heart Berries

Mailhot’s dark, riveting memoir reveals deep personal stories include domestic violence, sexual abuse, motherhood, and mental illness. Her prose is poetic and poignant. Here’s an example:

My mind is overwhelmed with breakfast alone. I don’t eat for days so you can run your hands over my ribcage. You told me that you always want to eat ribs afterward. I don’t eat for days because I can’t afford it. The meal I order after being fucked, by you, or anyone, is sont earned. Men objectify me, to such a degree that they forget I eat. You feed your dog more kindly than you feed me. That’s men.

That is some fucked up shit, but I appreciate the honesty. It’s a concise, eye-opening read. Definitely a recommendation.

Plaaastic: Lỗi (Error 404)

Plaaastic là biệt danh của một blogger thời trang ở Việt Nam nổi tiếng nhưng tôi chưa từng biết đến. Đọc quyển hồi ký của cô khiến tôi ngạc nhiên. Cô bị trầm cảm, ăn ói, ngược đãi bản thân, rối loạn ám ảnh cưỡng chế, rối loạn lo âu, và rối loạn khuynh hướng tâm thần. Để khắc phục những chứng bệnh, cô uống, hút, chích, cắt và thậm chí tự sát nhưng vẫn không khỏi. Đây là cuốn tự truyện rất cá nhân và cá tính. Tác giả chia sẽ rất nhiều về đời tư và những suy nghĩ của mình.