In the immortal words of Monty Python, "And now for something completely different." This page contains things I am studying, using for research purposes, and/or have enjoyed reading, but most of all it represents things I am compelled to share with visitors to my site. The book titles and other sundry items that are on this page from time to time may have nothing or everything to do with design and art. Enjoy, agree, and disagree, it is all okay by me.
The master of book cover design, Chip Kidd, published this extensive "Book One" volume of covers in 2005 and it features his iconic work created from 1986-2000. What I find most striking about Chip's cover design is that it is not formulaic. Each book, each cover project, stands on its own as a distinct design birthing process. What he consistently creates are covers that, at first blush, are enigmatic. A daring approach given the short shelf life of a book as well as the short attention span of the book shopper. Kidd creates a rich visual code with his cover designs that at first can be challenging to interpret but ultimately pull you in making you want to connect the visual dots and understand his singular choice of text and image. He is clearly a reader. He is also a writer (see his Cheese Monkeys novel, another of my favorite books). This literary duality, voracious reader and writer, informs his cover design approach. He doesn't play the obvious card. Instead he creates his own design morse code that pulls you in inviting you to "figure it out" and ultimately, read the book. This is a massive and rewarding volume by a designer at the top of his game--visually delightful and engaging to both book lovers and designers alike.
This is a perennial favorite and may stay on this list for quite some time. I am a huge Michael Chabon fan and this collection of personal essays around the themes of fatherhood, raising kids, as well as his relationship with his own parents, is only the tip of the iceberg that he brilliantly exposes within this collection. The beauty of these essays is Chabon's frankness, awkwardness, and dare I say, humanness that bubbles to the surface in each of his expositions. He turns a light on so much of his life as a father, it's challenges and joys. With his rich vocabulary of metaphors leading the way as only Chabon can, I am forever gripped by his sharing. Though Chabon and I are contemporaries, I believe these essays transcend age. They are honest, funny, thought-provoking and have helped me reconnect to myself. As an awesome companion to the print edition, I highly recommend the audio version of the book that features Chabon, himself, reading each of these timeless essays. In the words of-the-late Siskel & Ebert, "I give this two thumbs up, way up."