Ask DN: What books to read in 2016?

over 7 years ago from , design at vaam

I've decided that this year should be a year filled with knowledge. This is also why decided to challenge myself with reading at least 50+ books throughout the year.

I know a lot of you most certainly have lots of great tips on good reads and it doesn't really matter if it is fresh on the shelf or a real classic that can't go unnoticed.

So let's hear it -- What books do you suggest that one should read in 2016?


  • Raphaël MartinRaphaël Martin, over 7 years ago

    I wonder why nobody read novels. Do people thinks it's useless? I think it's sad. Althrough some books are interesting in your lists, be aware that they're all really Americanized-centric, Medium-style "How to Win the World in 10 lessons with Cold Showers and Meditation". Well, diversify your view. Think different! ;-)

    23 points
    • Kris KimKris Kim, over 7 years ago

      Can't agree more.

      0 points
    • Kathryn GraysonKathryn Grayson, over 7 years ago

      Well, do you have any good novel recommendations? Or did you just come here to leave your grumpy comment?

      9 points
    • Seun DebiyiSeun Debiyi, over 7 years ago

      The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho is a classic.

      3 points
    • Paul NevinPaul Nevin, over 7 years ago

      Definitely agree with you; each time I read such posts I end up feeling a but underwhelmed not only by the fact that most mentioned books either design/self-empowerment/startup related but also by the simple idea that novels are just not represented. I'm not criticising such books, it's just that I like novels more than any other kind of book so I always hope to find some good recommendation in such posts ;)

      Here are the books I read in 2015 (alot of sci-fi, fantasy, thrillers, ...) some of these were re-reads from my teens:

      • The Chronicles of Amber - Roger Zelazny
      • Complete Works - HP Lovecraft
      • Inspector Rebus cycle - Ian Rankin
      • Dune - Frank Herbert

      Next on my reading list:

      • Heroes of History - Will Durant
      • The Belgariad series - David Eddings
      • Dieu et nous seuls pouvons - Michel Folco
      • Consumed - David Cronenberg
      1 point
    • Andreas EberharterAndreas Eberharter, over 7 years ago

      Please find three of my favourite novels here:

      • Feed by M.T. Anderson
      • The Possibility of an Island by Michel Houellebecq
      • Der letzte Weynfeldt by Martin Suter
      0 points
  • Bart LigthartBart Ligthart, over 7 years ago (edited over 7 years ago )

    I decided exactly the same last year. Good choice! Tip also use audio books, great way to consume books while doing the dishes or walking to the store for example.

    • My favorite reads last year:
    • Elon Musk - Ashlee Vance
    • The hard thing about hard things - Ben Horowitz
    • Mastery - Robert Green
    • How to win friends and influence people - Dale Carnegie
    • The Art of Learning - Josh Waitzkin
    • Essentialism - Greg MCKeown
    • Zero to One - Peter Thiel, Blake Masters
    • The Power of Habit - Charles Duhigg
    • Thinking, Fast and Slow
    19 points
    • Jon CorwinJon Corwin, over 7 years ago

      Nice! I read nearly the same set, except for "Elon Musk". Heard great things about it. Will likely read soon. "The Hard Thing About Hard Things" was intense yet oddly satisfying. Thanks for sharing!

      0 points
    • Pedro PintoPedro Pinto, over 7 years ago

      Great list. Im currently reading Essentialism - Greg MCKeown

      I loved The Power of Habit and Thinking, Fast and Slow

      0 points
    • Nogah Senecky, over 7 years ago

      Great list! Thanks for sharing

      0 points
  • Jordan KoscheiJordan Koschei, over 7 years ago (edited over 7 years ago )

    Love it. Love that there are other designers interested in books and not just Medium posts.

    I highly recommend reading things that are seemingly unrelated to design. Fiction especially — I've found anything that provides a richer perspective on human nature to be edifying, both personally and professionally.

    9 points
  • Benjamin DautonBenjamin Dauton, over 7 years ago (edited over 7 years ago )

    I've also decided that in 2016, I should start reading some books instead of browsing 9gag ;-)

    Here's my list:

    • Lean UX (Jeff Gothelf, Josh Seiden)
    • The Design of Everyday Things (Donald A. Norman)
    • The 7 day startup, you don’t learn before you launch (Dan Norris)
    • The UX Book (Rex Hartson, Pardha S. Pyla)
    • The Elements of User Experience (Jesse James Garrett)
    • UX Design Process (Smashing Magazine)
    • 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People (Susan Weinschenk)
    • The Art of Looking Sideways (Alan Fletcher)
    • The Geometry of Type (Erik Spiekermann)
    • The Paradox of Choice (Barry Schwartz)
    • Start With Why (Simon Sinek)
    • Don't Make Me Think, Revisited (Steve Krug)
    8 points
  • Sjors TimmerSjors Timmer, over 7 years ago

    Just finished Nicolas Taleb's Anti-Fragile. Came away with an new understanding about career risks and why it's not that bad to be a freelancer. And some tips and tricks for the day civilisation collapses (stock up on gold and canned food :)

    7 points
  • Gadzhi KharkharovGadzhi Kharkharov, over 7 years ago (edited over 7 years ago )

    Here's my stack for next few months. I've read some of them on Kindle (Zero to One and Creativity Inc), but decided to get hardcover versions of those.


    6 points
    • Louis BLouis B, over 7 years ago

      +100000 for Ready Player One

      9 points
    • Jonathan SuhJonathan Suh, over 7 years ago

      Started reading Ready Player One last night and wow, reading hasn’t felt this much fun in a while—already 25%. Thanks for the recommendation

      1 point
      • Evan PEvan P, over 7 years ago

        I couldn't put it down. I think I blew through the whole book in about 3 days.

        I am trying to pick up a few more copies because I find every time I lend it to someone it never comes back.

        0 points
  • Jonathan SuhJonathan Suh, over 7 years ago (edited over 7 years ago )

    The Martian by Andy Weir

    One of the most enjoyable books I read last year. If you saw the movie, it doesn’t do the book justice—gotta read it.

    5 points
  • Jonathan KimseyJonathan Kimsey, over 7 years ago
    • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
    • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
    • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
    • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
    • Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
    • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
    4 points
  • Catalin CimpanuCatalin Cimpanu, over 7 years ago

    Read the Red Rising trilogy, by Pierce Brown (not UI or UX)

    3 points
  • Denis RojcykDenis Rojcyk, over 7 years ago


    3 points
  • Rachel Fox, over 7 years ago

    Recent books I have loved reading (both fiction and non): • How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie • Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior, Leonard Mlodinow • The Southern Reach Trilogy, Jeff VanderMeer • The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

    I also use the goodreads app to track my reading and get suggestions, try it out! Not sure how I feel about it yet, but so far so... alright.

    2 points
  • Bryant HughesBryant Hughes, over 7 years ago

    I wrote a medium article at the end of last year going over all my reads. I'd say the best ones I'd have to recomend are:

    • The Obstacle is the Way
    • Meditations
    • How to win friends and influence people
    • Reinventing Organizations


    2 points
  • Pedro PintoPedro Pinto, over 7 years ago

    Three that I've read last year more related with stoicism:

    On the Shortness of Life - Seneca Meditations - Marcus Aurelius The Obstacle is the Way - Ryan Holiday

    This list provided by Frank Chimero have amazing books: http://www.frankchimero.com/library

    2 points
  • Paul MistPaul Mist, over 7 years ago (edited over 7 years ago )

    War of the Worlds - HG Wells

    The Great White Space - Basil Copper

    I Am Legend - Richard Matheson

    Anything by HP Lovecraft

    Wool - Hugh Howey

    1 point
  • Colleen Beach, over 7 years ago (edited over 7 years ago )

    Ones I haven't seen mentioned yet that I read this year and enjoyed (although most of them aren’t new).

    • The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
    • Among Others by Jo Walton
    • Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
    • Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
    • We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
    • The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers
    1 point
  • Michael GluzmanMichael Gluzman, over 7 years ago

    Thinking Fast and Slow is fascinating. If you're info SF, Three Body Problem series is pretty cool.

    1 point
  • Alex CarpenterAlex Carpenter, over 7 years ago
    • The Martian
    • Ready Player One
    • Wool
    1 point
  • Mahad Qureshi, over 7 years ago (edited over 7 years ago )

    Here's some I'm hoping to read this year :)

    Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

    Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics

    Wherever You Go, There You Are

    The Wright Brothers

    Designing Products People Love

    Outliers: The Story of Success


    Zero to One

    1 point
  • Chris GillisChris Gillis, over 7 years ago

    A couple of books that I kept turning to last year for Design & my job:

    The User Experience Team of One: A Research and Design Survival Guide - http://amzn.to/1RVOmU7

    Communicating the User Experience: A Practical Guide for Creating Useful UX Documentation - http://amzn.to/1RVOUJp

    I'm doing alot more UX Design, Research & Documentation and was turning to these books alot.

    1 point
  • Gadzhi KharkharovGadzhi Kharkharov, over 7 years ago (edited over 7 years ago )

    Here's a "no-bullshit" post on Medium with some good books too

    1 point
  • Minnix , over 7 years ago

    The Essential Rumi

    0 points
  • Joshua HynesJoshua Hynes, over 7 years ago

    First: Great goal! I hope you hit your goal. That said…

    Second: If you haven't built reading time into your regular schedule, you might find reading almost a book a week a bit ambitious. If you have and you can read that much: awesome! Personally I'd love to read that many books but life gets in the way. My goal this year is 24 books.

    Third: +1 for fiction writing. Writing which stirs the imagination can help feed your creativity.

    Here are some books I've enjoyed recently (fiction, and non-fiction):

    • Blue Remembered Earth, Alastair Reynolds
    • House of Suns, Alastair Reynolds
    • A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, Betty Smith
    • Frame Innovation, Kees Dorst
    • Design for Dasein: Understanding the Design of Experience Design, Thomas Wendt
    • Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
    • Creativity Inc, Ed Catmull
    • Replay, Ken Grimwood
    • East of Eden, John Steinbeck
    • The Yearling, Marjorie Rawlings
    0 points
  • Jahanzeb Khan, over 7 years ago

    I tend to switch from Fiction to Industry books to Biographies. I believe, its important to learn as much about your industry to be able to contribute something of value, but to be innovate and move the industry forward, you have to look outside—show us something we've seen like we've never seen it before. Some of the best ideas are hidden in the lives of notable people or insight locked away in classic fiction. Lately, I've shy'ed away from industry books (Web or self development related) because its all theoretical (but super interesting)... I have to always catch myself when I read too many industry books, because It's mostly when I don't want to do work, but reading books feels like I am...makes me feel productive...lol if that makes any sense.

    0 points
  • Adrianne Lee, over 7 years ago

    Happiness Industry by William Davies - gives you excellent perspective into the political nature of an emotion we designers focus a lot on.

    0 points
  • Kevin ZweerinkKevin Zweerink, over 7 years ago

    Read some books that make you uncomfortable about being a designer. Books that challenge the modern western narrative of a problematic world waiting to be solved help us understand the larger structures that use design.

    • Isaiah Berlin: Four Essays on Liberty
    • Frantz Fanon: The Wretched of the Earth
    • Charles Jencks: The Language of Post-Modern Architecture
    • Gilles Deleuze & Félix Guattari: A Thousand Plateaus
    • James C. Scott: Seeing Like A State

    Sorry for the lack of diversity in that list. If anyone has suggestions for political theory or design/architectural criticism not written by white men, I'd be excited to add them to my bookshelf.

    0 points
  • barry saundersbarry saunders, over 7 years ago

    Design books:

    About Face (doing interaction design)

    Articulating Design Decisions (convincing people about your designs)

    Design for Dasein (design and philosophy)

    Hidden in Plain Sight (design research and innovation)

    Deep Work (focus)

    Sci-fi books that expand your mind:

    Ancillery Justice / Ancillery Sword / Ancillery Mercy (told from the POV of a massive spaceship's AI stuck in a human brain, deals with gender, distributed consciousness, class and colonialism and cool space battles)

    Firefall series (Blindsight and Echopraxia) (deals with a first-contact story with aliens that are truly alien, raising questions about consciousness and self)


    Thinking Fast and Slow

    Thinking in Systems

    Activity Theory

    0 points
  • Luis La TorreLuis La Torre, over 7 years ago

    The 'Art of the Deal'. Apparently is almost as good as the Bible.

    0 points
  • Nogah Senecky, over 7 years ago

    Lean in.

    (I'm loving the book club formed in this thread)

    0 points
  • M HernandezM Hernandez, over 7 years ago

    Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - a Book About Quality.

    0 points
  • Razvan HRazvan H, over 7 years ago

    No Interface : The Best Interface Is No Interface and Designing News

    0 points
  • Arianna AzevedoArianna Azevedo, over 7 years ago (edited over 7 years ago )

    These two books about office life are pretty funny: The Room: a Novel (Jonas Karlsson), Nonprofit (Matt Burriesci)

    0 points
  • Connor NorvellConnor Norvell, over 7 years ago

    I would suggest all 3 of the 99u books. along with "damn good advice for people with talent" and the great discontent magazines. I am reading the accidental creative as well, which so far is fantastic

    0 points
  • Keaton TaylorKeaton Taylor, over 7 years ago

    Articulating Design Decisions by Tom Greever is the one I'm slowly but surely working through. Tom's an A+ guy and the books really good so far.

    0 points
  • derek l, over 7 years ago

    Here's a couple that aren't design books, in case you were interested:

    The Devil in the White City - Erik Larson

    Drawing Blood - Molly Crabapple

    0 points
  • Mark JenkinsMark Jenkins, over 7 years ago

    Essentialism by Greg McKeown

    Start with WHY by Simon Sinek

    Talk like TED by Carmine Gallo

    100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People: What Makes Them Tick? (Voices That Matter)

    Writing That Works, 3e: How to Communicate Effectively in Business

    The Establishment: And how they get away with it

    The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few

    Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness

    Wabi-sabi: For Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers

    0 points
  • cliff nowickicliff nowicki, over 7 years ago

    Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative - Austin Kleon Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered - Austin Kleon

    Both are excellent books that get you out of any rut as well! Both are a good 40 or so minute read too

    0 points
  • Chris GillisChris Gillis, over 7 years ago

    Also the Do Books are amazing - http://thedobook.co/

    We are looking to take care of bees and this one is great - Do Beekeeping: The Secret to Happy Honey Bees http://amzn.to/1RW46pS

    but they also have books more catered towards web/business.

    0 points
  • Matt ScorteMatt Scorte, over 7 years ago

    Tobias Van Schneider has a pretty good list http://www.vanschneider.com/reading/

    0 points
  • Katelyn Caillouet, over 7 years ago

    The Southern Reach triology, which starts with Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer. Some of the best science fiction I've read in awhile. It's becoming a movie next year, directed by the director of Ex Machina.

    0 points
  • Coby ChappleCoby Chapple, over 7 years ago

    The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield.

    0 points
  • Sander VisserSander Visser, over 7 years ago

    There are some good suggestions in this post: https://www.designernews.co/stories/61510-ask-dn-a-book-a-month-challenge--suggestions

    0 points