A Graphic Designer's Summer Reading List

Updated on
April 14, 2024

by Abigail Timms

Building the industry bookshelf one recommended read at a time.

For this graphic designer, a summer read needs to have the following—an exciting premise, a well-designed cover, and something that sparks my creativity. The following books are ones I’ve recently read and loved, or have piqued my interest and are on my summer TBR list!

Cloud Cuckoo Land, Anthony Doerr

Talk about a creative plotline! Cloud Cuckoo Land is the most recent book by Anthony Doerr, author of Pulitzer Prize winner All the Light We Cannot See, and follows five characters whose stories are tied together across nearly six centuries. This book shows the importance of storytelling, and how a single story, when preserved and passed on, can affect the actions and lives of those decades later. I love books with unique storytelling devices, like House of Leaves or Only Revolutions by Mark Z. Danielewski. Doerr’s intertwining of characters’ stories that are set so far apart was a great example of creatively refreshing the typical book plot order. It kept me on the edge of my seat, made me cry, and I finished it in 24 hours, no lie.

“But books, like people, die. They die in fires or floods or in the mouths of worms or at the whims of tyrants. If they are not safeguarded, they go out of the world. And when a book goes out of the world, the memory dies a second death.”

Happy Place, Emily Henry

Far from fluffy airport romances (no shade), Henry’s novels are some of my favorite stories that spark deeper thoughts about interpersonal relationships. Happy Place follows former fiancés who must pretend to still be together in front of their four closest friends during their annual getaway to Maine. Emily Henry writes such compelling and complicated female protagonists that are so refreshing to read in a genre that can so quickly become tired and repetitive. This book seems packed full of intriguing plot, so I’m very much looking forward to reading this outside in the sunshine this summer!

“Things change, but we stretch and grow and make room for one another. Our love is a place we can always come back to, and it will be waiting, the same as it ever was. You belong here.”

Yellowface, R.F. Kuang

Now I can’t lie, half of the reason I’m so excited to read this book this summer is the cover design. R.F. Kuang, author of award-winning book Babel, takes on the topics of racism and cultural appropriation in her new novel. The story centers around an author who takes another’s work on the contributions of Chinese laborers and publishes it under a pseudonym and racially ambiguous author photo. While I’m so intrigued to learn more about the erasure of voices and history by the publishing industry, the design of the hardback version of the book is also why I am interested. When the yellow dust jacket is removed from the book, the actual hardback is white, which is such a creative and subtle way of reflecting the topic of the title in the design!

“Writing is the closest thing we have to real magic.”

The Summer We Forgot, Caroline George

Summer is a great time to switch it up and recently I’ve discovered that reading a new genre is like working on different design projects. It fires up another part of my brain that I hadn’t stretched in a while, refreshing my thoughts and working a different creative muscle. And that’s exactly what my current read, A Summer We Forgot, is for me. Set in the beautiful coastline of 30A Florida, this book follows a splintered friend group that hasn’t spoken since working at summer camp together two years ago. When the body of their former science teacher is found dead in the marsh near the camp, they quickly realize they have many questions and few memories of what went down. Full of secrets and tension and summertime beach vibes, this is an exciting read!

“We’re not what people have done to us. We’re not what we’ve done to ourselves. We’re not the past. We’re the future. Not what’s been done. What we’ll do.”

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