Classic Books with Inspiring Design Messages
Here is a list of some remarkable reads that will inspire you to see solutions where others only see problems.
The Garden of Forking Paths by Jorge Luis Borges
How can a World War I spy send a message from London to Germany without a telegraph, the mail, or even a carrier pigeon? The narrator of this short story has minutes to find an answer, and uses creative problem-solving to safely deliver his message using a name in a phone book and a single bullet.
The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A. Caro
Despite the fact that he was never elected to any office, Robert Moses was the most powerful man in New York City for decades. This is the story of how he transformed (and many would argue, trashed) the city—building not just physical structures like highways and bridges, but reshaping politics.
The Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram
This book reminds us of our rich vocabulary, resources, and instincts from which we can draw to effectively communicate. Abram presents a worldview of human language and symbols that is world-changing for those who dive in.
Significant Objects: 100 Extraordinary Stories About Ordinary Things
For this collection, authors like Jonathan Lethem and Colson Whitehead were asked to invent stories about cheap trinkets, then post both the story and object on eBay to see if the story raised the value. Prices went up a staggering 2,700 percent, demonstrating the power of emotional connection in the things we make.
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
Marco Polo travels the vast empire of the Great Khan, bringing back reports of distant cities—despite the fact that he can’t speak the Khan’s language or the languages of the other places he visits. Instead, he designs new ways of communicating through motions, gestures, and suggestions.
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
This sci-fi novel tells the story of a world in which avatars interact in the Metaverse, a collective virtual space. The book helped inspire the creation of Second Life, and—like other fiction that has led to real-life inventions— illustrates the power of storytelling to create a vision for a future reality.
The Gun by C.J. Chivers
A former infantry officer in the U.S. Marines sets out to show how history has been determined by the merits of various firearms, and by the design of the deadly Soviet assault rifle, the AK-47, in particular.
Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat by Ibee Wilson
From prehistoric cups made from whatever material was readily available to modern ovens that bake soufflés to the nearest 0.01 degree, this book explores how the objects used to prepare and consume food over centuries have determined what people have eaten in different eras, and the resulting impact on their health, well-being, and behavior.
Illustrations by Francesca Ramos.
The Feminist Life: Free the Auto Show Model Women now work in all facets of the automotive industry, not just as models rolling around on the hood of a car.
Turning Rubbernecking in Bangladesh into a Lifesaving Moment Without 9-1-1 or a reliable ambulance system, one med student and 100 volunteers launch a mobile-based emergency response system
Female Monks Challenge Buddhism’s Misogynistic Tendencies Long relegated to being the handmaidens of the more revered male monks, devout Thai women are now establishing their own religious order
If You Really Love Nature, Don’t Live Anywhere Near It Almost universally, people living in urban locations have a much smaller environmental footprint.
For Ernesto Yerena, Los Angeles is the City of Hustle and Hope Artist Ernesto Yerena’s visual love letter to the City of Hustle and Hope.
Books Stop Bullets at Tragic FSU Shooting A tragic shooting, a confusing profile of a would-be-killer, and a student saved by his library books
These Grandmas Smoke Pot For The First Time. And They Absolutely Love it. They take a few epic bong rips before waxing poetic on the merits of ironing, mistake a vaporizer for a sex toy, and stonily lose track of whatever thoughts they were briefly attempting to articulate.
If You See One Iranian Vampire Western Movie This Year, Make it This One The chador-wearing, skateboarding, vampire protagonist of A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night would fit right in to a John Hughes movie
There’s No Reason for Any Nation Not to Vaccinate its Feral Dogs Targeting the semi-wild dogs that roam city streets and rural hamlets all over the world can break the chain of rabies transmission and eliminate cases in humans
The Secret Origin of Neil deGrasse Tyson It took perseverance, intense training, and a willingness to defy expectations to turn a curious kid into the sharp, affable scientist we know today.
VITAMINS 101: Know What You Need Get the dish on your nutrition
Games Theory: 6 Views of a Mockingjay Just how socially relevant is The Hunger Games? Let us count the ways.