Daryl Fielding: The Brand Book

The bulk of Daryl Fielding’s The Brand Book is on strategy. She only spent several pages on colors, logos, and typefaces. As a result, this book is more suitable for research than design. I didn’t enjoy the strategy part. Pizza United, the fictitious brand she came up with for the book, is lackluster. It is not the book I was looking forward to reading.

Seth Godin: The Practice

Seth Godin is a voracious blogger. He keeps his prose short and to the point. The Practice reads more like a collection of his blog posts randomly slapped together. I am 60 pages in and calling it quit. I just can’t retain any information from the book; therefore, I just can’t finish it. I am not sure why I had it on my Amazon wishlist when it just came out in 2020. Three years later, I picked up a copy in the library to give it a try. I removed it from my wishlist.

Michelle Obama: The Light We Carry

In her latest book, Michelle Obama offers the tools to navigate the turbulences in uncertain times. As a daughter, mother, wife, black woman, and First Lady, she faced many challenges. A handful of them, including the political turmoils, she had shared in her memoir Becoming; therefore, the book is somewhat repetitive. Nevertheless, I find her personal stories on relationship and parenting to be helpful. Ms. Obama writes about her relationship with her husband:

Our love is not perfect, but it’s real and we’re committed to it. This particular certainty sits parked like a grand piano in the middle of every room we enter. We are, in many ways, very different people, my husband and I. He’s a night owl who enjoys solitary pursuits. I’m an early bird who loves a crowded room. In my opinion, he spends too much time golfing. In his opinion, I watch too much lowbrow TV. But between us, there’s a loving assuredness that’s as simple as knowing the other person is there to stay, no matter what. This is what I think people pick up on in those photos: that tiny triumph we get to feel, knowing that despite having spent half our lives together now, despite all the ways we aggravate each other and all the ways we are different, neither one of us has walked away. We’re still here. We remain.

My wife and I have been married for almost 15 years and neither one of us has walked away. We’re still holding our hands to walk together on this road of life. Ms. Obama’s parenting experience also hits come to home. She shares:

As a parent, you are always fighting your own desperation not to fail at the job you’ve been given. There are whole industries built to feed and capitalize on this very desperation, from baby brain gyms and ergonomic strollers to SAT coaches. It’s like a hole that can’t ever be filled. And as a great many parents in the United States struggle with the high cost of childcare (which can consume about 20 percent of an average worker’s salary), the stresses only grow. You can become convinced that if you pull back even a little, thanks to one tiny advantage you didn’t figure out how to provide or afford, you’ve potentially doomed your own child.

I’m sorry to say that this doesn’t end with any one milestone, either. The desperation doesn’t go away when your kid learns to sleep or walk, or goes off to kindergarten, or graduates from high school, or even moves into their first apartment and buys a set of steak knives. You will still worry! You will still be afraid for them! As long as you are still breathing you’ll be wondering if there’s something more you can do. The world will forever seem infinitely more sinister and dangerous when you have a child, even a grown one, walking around in it. And most of us will do nearly anything to convince ourselves that we’ve got even a modicum of control. Even now, my husband, the former commander in chief, can’t help but to text cautionary news stories to our daughters-about the dangers of highway driving or walking alone at night. When they moved to California, he emailed them a lengthy article about earthquake preparedness and offered to have Secret Service give them a natural-disaster-response briefing. (This was met with a polite “No thanks.”)

Caring for your kids and watching them grow is one of the most rewarding endeavors on earth, and at the same time it can drive you nuts.

The Light We Carry has the self-improvement aspect to it. I find it a bit of a drag to read at times, but it also offers some useful advice. I am not going to pick up knitting anytime soon, but I’ll try to relax a bit on parenting advice. I hope the kids will turn out OK.

Chris Campe & Ulrike Rausch: Making Fonts

A visual, concise, and accessible guide, Chris Campe & Ulrike Rausch walk through the entire process of Making Fonts from sketch to publish. If you want to get into type design, this book is definitely helpful. Even for someone like me who uses type, I find the technical details to be invaluable for typesetting.

Brian D. Miller: Principles of Web Design

I picked up Brian Miller’s Principles of Web Design because I have not read a book on web design in a long time. I have been in the game for over two decades and I haven’t followed the industry since responsive web design, which was 13 years ago. I am curious to know if the principles have changed. According to Miller’s book, the principles of web design hasn’t changed much since he wrote this book in 2008. In the latest edition, Miller focuses on three sections: plan, design, and optimize. Principles of Web Design is a review for me to see if I have missed anything in recent years. If you are new to web design and want to get into the game, this is a good book to get started on.

Mary C. Dyson: Legibility

In her clear and concise book, Mary C. Dyson shares her research on the legibility of type, typography, and beyond. Print legibility has been covered before, but not so much on screen legibility. I wish Dyson delves deeper on the screen portion. Nevertheless, Legibility is an essential read for designers—particular web practitioners.

The entire book is published on the web. How awesome is that? The book is typeset in Adapter, designed by Rosetta Type. While I like a sans serif text face like Adapter, I still prefer a serif text face for book form. Somehow I got a bit bored reading long text in a sans-serif font, especially with a dense subject like ligigility. Of course, this has nothing to do with legibility, but serif text is still more readable even on the screens.

Ellen Lupton: Design is Storytelling

This book released in 2017; therefore, it sounded dated. I didn’t get much out of it. My sense of design is simple and straightforward. My design doesn’t need to tell a story. My design just needs to connect and communicate. Not sure where I am going with this.

Steven Heller & Gail Anderson: The Logo Design Idea Book

Heller and Anderson are prolific writers. I can’t keep up with their sheer volume of books on graphic design. The Logo Design Idea Book, which released in 2020, featured 50 logos with a one-page explanation for each. It is short, sweet, and insightful. It’s a perfect switch for me from poetry to design.

Selina Boan: Undoing Hours

Read through the collection and understood just a bit of it. My brain is just not picking up poetry and I simply don’t know what write even a few brief sentences. After five months of reading poetry books, I am taking a break and return to novel and fiction. It was a fun journey. Of course I will continue to read poetry, but not exclusively.

Marlanda Dekine: Thresh & Hold

I don’t fully understand Dekine’s poems—even a simple one like “Paris, 2019”:

I lost control
following cigarette processionals, in and out,
of a freedom-spatting
mausoleum head. I love

James Baldwin.

There are entire worlds
in his words. My heart became
a jade toad, croaking fire. I leapt—
followed e smoke.

I can’t figure out “e.” In any rate, I read through the collection once.