100 Books to Fuel Design Growth
A community-vetted library to inspire creative innovation through design with suggested starting points. Includes FREE Notion database access.
Hello! I’m Pat and Better by Design is my newsletter sharing pragmatic insights for creative innovation through the lens of design. If you’re new here, join our growing tribe of design innovators!
Curating a library for design growth
I recently asked senior designers on X to share the books that they’d like to make required reading for every junior designer.
The community delivered, sharing dozens of fantastic suggestions across a wide range of topics that combine to influence the modern discipline of software design.
In response, I curated the suggestions into a FREE Notion database that you can save so that you’re never left wondering where to go next to level up your skills.
I’m calling it the Better by Design Growth Library.
Every new Better by Design subscriber will receive this database in their welcome email. All you have to do to get it for yourself is subscribe and check your email. 💚 ✉️ 👇
This database combines the wisdom of the community with some of my personal favorite books, expanding on what I’ve shared in past editions of Better by Design. These aren’t just books for junior designers; these are powerful guides to fuel your growth at any level.
I categorized the books into ten thematic focus areas:
Interface & Interaction
Theory & Principles
Business & Strategy
Creativity & Innovation
Tech & Society
Ethics & Accessibility
Each book has a purchase link, an estimated price, and a status property so that you can keep track of what you’re interested in and what you’ve read.
100 books is a lot and you shouldn’t feel any pressure to get through them all. Instead, think of them as potential paths to explore as you follow your curiosity, expanding your skill set over time.
Pat’s suggested starting points
While you can’t go wrong with any book in the database, I’d like to suggest one from each focus area as a starting point. These aren’t the “most important” books, nor are they the “most basic”, rather they’re ones I personally want to highlight.
An insightful guide offering practical steps for organizing information and creating user-centric systems. Perfect for anyone looking to declutter digital spaces and enhance user engagement.
Focus: User Experience
Price: FREE web version, $10 on Kindle
Adham’s book is packed with examples, bridging the gap between design theory and real-world application. An essential new guide for learning how to create intuitive and *ahem* practical interfaces.
Focus: Interface & Interaction
Price: $79 - Free preview available
This curated collection offers a journey through the evolution of graphic design, making it a powerful resource for designers seeking to understand the discipline’s foundations.
Focus: Graphic Design
Price: $4 on Kindle
A refreshingly straightforward approach to software product development that expertly combines strategy, design, and execution.
Price: FREE to download
A compelling exploration of computational design's principles. It helps to demystify the intersection of technology and design, offering insights into how machines think and impact our world. It’s also useful for considering AI tech.
Focus: Theory & Principles
A comprehensive crash course in business essentials. It's an ideal read for creatives looking to grasp business concepts and succeed in the competitive business landscape. It reads a bit like a text book, so don’t feel like you need to read it straight through. Instead, seek out the areas you’re most curious about and bounce around that way.
Focus: Business & Strategy
Legendary music producer, Rick Rubin, distills his experiences into lessons that are applicable across all creative fields, making this book a must-read for anyone looking to ignite their creative spark.
Focus: Creativity & Innovation
This book compiles the wisdom of AngelList founder Naval Ravikant, covering everything from wealth creation to happiness. It’s one of the most impactful books I’ve read in the last two years for considering my own skills and career path as a design technology professional.
Focus: Tech & Society
Price: FREE to download
As a designer who spent many years focused on cybersecurity, I became acutely aware of how UX tactics could also be used to manipulate and exploit. Harry’s book is a great guide for understanding those deceptive patterns and growing your ability to protect people and prevent harmful outcome online.
Focus: Ethics & Accessibility
'Design is a Job' tackles the often-overlooked realities of a design career in Mike Monteiro’s classic no-nonsense style. From client relationships to advocating for your work, this book is a practical guide for navigating the real professional world of design.
No matter where you are on your design journey, I know you’ll find useful guidance and inspiration from the books in this collection. I’ve already updated my personal queue with a few that caught my eye!
If you think a friend or coworker might get value from this list, share it!
Until next time,