Dinty W. Moore: The Mightful Writer

This little book features 59 quotes on writing and short responses from the author to demonstrate the intersect between writing and mindfulness. Some of my favorite quotes including John McPhee’s “Writing teaches writing,” Carlos Fuentes’ “Writing is a struggle against silence,” and Thích Nhật Hạnh’s “Compassion is a verb.” It’s an enlightening read.

Karl Ove Knausgaard: Inadvertent

In this Why I Write series, Knausgaard shares his personal stories. I love the quote he heard from another writer, “I write because I am going to die.” I also love this passage:

The discrepancy between the reality I lived in and the literature I was writing at a certain point led me to throw in my cards and try something new. I wanted to get close to reality, and the genre with which I felt the greatest affinity at the time was the diary. What would happen if I combined the diary’s closeness to the self and urge for reflection with the realist step-by-step novel? The rules I set myself now were exceptionally simple. I would write only about things that had actually happened, and I would write about them as I remembered them, without doing research or amending my memory to conform to other versions. I also had to write a certain number of pages every day, first five, later ten, and toward the end up to twenty. In that way I simply wouldn’t have time to think, to plan or to calculate, I would have to go with whatever appeared on the screen in front of me. This method came about because I had set out to write about myself, and since we know more about ourselves than about any other subject, it seemed important to avoid the established versions and to seek instead the complexity that lies beneath our self-insight and self-image and which can be accessed only by not thinking about how our thoughts and feelings will seem to others, how it will look, who I am if I think and feel these things.

I read this long essay in one sitting.

Irene Pereyra: Universal Principles of UX

This book obviously follows the format of Universal Principles of Design, but it is no match to the classics. It focuses on UX, which is great for digital design, but the principles are falling short, especially towards the end. I would say 60 principles are solid and 40 are fillers. The author also pimps many of her own work, which makes it less universal. The book is still worth a quick read through.

Roxane Gay: Opinions

I am a fan of Gay’s writing, particularly in Hunger. She has such an easygoing, approachable style. Over the years, I would read any opinion pieces she had written. Whether writing on politics, race, civil responsibilities, culture, or man problems, she brings fresh, smart, and honest opinions to the table. Her latest book is a collection of essays she had written in the past decade. It’s a good read.

Angela Riechers: The Elements of Visual Grammar

After more than a decade of trying to choose images that convey diversity for the school that named after the ultra conservative Supreme Court Justice, I lost my passion for working with photography. Fortunately, Angela Riechers’ The Elements of Visual Grammar reinvigorated my long-lost love for the art of imagery. The text is clearly written and the accompanied images helped conveyed the message. I recommend it for design students and professionals.

Vũ Trọng Phụng: Làm đĩ

Nhà văn Vũ Trọng Phụng đã tiến bước trước cái thời của ông. Làm đĩ ông viết vào năm 1936 bây giờ đọc vẫn mang tính cách hiện đại. Tôi đọc về sự dâm dục trong sách tiếng Anh cũng khá nhiều nhưng đây là lần đầu tiên tôi đọc một quyển tiểu thuyết tiếng Việt viết về cái dâm một cách tự nhiên, hồn nhiên, và thản nhiên. Cái dâm là bản tính trời cho. Dâm không có xấu xa. Chỉ có đạo đức giả mới xấu xa. Làm đĩ chứng tỏ tác giả có cái nhìn cặn kẽ về cái dâm. Ông hiểu thấu được cái dâm. Ông đồng cảm với cái dâm. Ông ca tụng cái dâm. Ông giải tỏa cái dâm để tô điểm cuộc đời. Qua những lời văn chân thật, ông cho phép người đọc muốn dâm cứ dâm. Đừng e ngại và cũng chẳng có gì phải hổ thẹn.

Elliot Jay Stocks: Universal Principles of Typography

Typeset in Degular and Swear, designed by James Edmondson, Elliot Jay Stocks’s book is a lovely printed publication on web typography. The book features 100 clearly written principles accompanied by beautiful illustrations to help readers understand the key concepts.

From typographic fundamentals to choosing and pairing fonts to typography systems to OpenType and variable fonts, this book is a comprehensive guide to typography. Even though Elliot focuses on typesetting for the web, his principles can apply to other mediums as well.

His writing is friendly and his approach to typography is flexible. There are no hard rules in setting types. His principles serve as guides and not regulations. You just have to do it and get a feel for it. For example, he argues that long-form text can be set in either serif or sans serif typefaces, as he illustrated in the typesetting of his own book. I still prefer serif for long-form reading, especially for books with just text. The simplicity of sans-serif text always made me read too fast and skipped the words. I had to consciously tell myself to slow down. On the other hand, serif typefaces made me read slower, but retain the information better. That’s just my own experience.

If you are a design student or interested in improving your typesetting, Universal Principles of Typography is highly recommended. Thanks for the shout out to Vietnamese Typography.

April Bernard: The World Behind the World

I didn’t get much out of this collection of poems except for “Allen v Farrow.” At least I think I did anyway. My approach to reading poetry is either I get it or I don’t. It’s more often that I don’t.

Jessica Q. Stark: Buffalo Girl

I picked up this book because the author is half Vietnamese half American. She writes about her whiteness as well as her Asian part. Though I didn’t understand much of her poems the first read. I might need to revisit them.

Josh Clark: Designing for Touch

This book released in 2015 when digital devices, such as iPads, started to take off. Reading it almost a decade later, it is has become out of touch. I am done catching up with the A Book Apart series.