A Creative Technologist’s Favorite Books

by Matt Reed

Building the industry bookshelf one recommended read at a time.

Most of what I read is online, so I was actually surprised when I realized that five of my favorite books happen to be physical-ish. I enjoy anything that gets my imagination going and these books do just that.

Forget all the rules you ever learned about graphic design. Including the ones in this book, by Bob Gill

Bob Gill is a legend — let’s just get that out of the way. As the founding partner of the agency that eventually became New York’s mythical Pentagram Design, this book is the culmination of his approach to design. It’s an unassuming book from the 80s that has so many timeless lessons about design that it should be on any creative’s list. I’ve referenced this book in design consideration and feedback more than any other. Simple ideas like “Interesting words need boring graphics”, “Boring words need interesting graphics”, and “the problem is the problem” are brought to life with clever examples. It will give you a whole new perspective on design.

“Forget how good design is supposed to look. What you think is good design, is what other designers think is good design, too. That’s why design is in a rut. And that’s not good. That’s Boring.”

Artemis, by Andy Weir

Like many others, I LOVED The Martian and all the nerdy details Andy incorporates. They immerse you in the physical realities of what it would be like to actually be on Mars, or the Moon in the case of Artemis. I tell people that this book is Ocean’s 11 meets The Martian. If you take a look at the photo of my books you’ll notice that this one is actually an audiobook! I spend a good deal of time in my car, and because of that audiobooks tend to be my format of preference.

“Himmelen er ikke grensen. It means ‘The sky is not the limit.’”

Be the coolest Dad on the block, by Simon Rose & Steve Caplin

As if being a Dad isn’t cool enough, this book manages to make it even cooler. There are tons of clever ideas to keep any Dad at the top of their game. If you’re like me and get daily inquisitions from you first grader in the likes of “If secondary colors are made from primary colors, what are primary colors made from?” then this is required reading. Although, that question is not answered in this book so if you know the answer pls tell me.

“If all the Legos in the world were divided up evenly, we’d get 30 pieces each”

Kingpin, by Kevin Poulsen

I refer to this book as the mic drop heard around the underworld. It’s a do-gooder-anti-authoritarian Nerd’s dream and better yet, it actually happened. If you liked WarGames you’ll LOVE THIS. It’s actually quite amazing to learn how much power lies in the tap of a return key.

“…the bustling twenty-four-hour-a-day marketplaces supporting a billion-dollar global underground economy all winked out of existence…They would all know the name Iceman.”

Where’s Waldo? by Martin Handford

While there isn’t much to read, Where’s Waldo inspires in a timeless way. Seeing the enjoyment my kids get from exploring a scene while uncovering things they never expected is a great reminder to keep exploring and enjoy the adventure along the way.

“Did you find the extra character who appears in every scene? If not, keep looking! Wow! Fantastic!”

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