24. November 2006

Good Books Want to be Re-read

  1. Good books are good people: Books are people speaking with signs. Meeting cool people several times is nice.
  2. Good books are good friends: Choose books like you choose your friends. Talk to many, stick with the best. A good book can make you happy, get you through hard times, teach you amazing stuff. It can do that every time you read it.
  3. Meeting good friends again and again is where the fun starts: Good books are a pleasure to read. Repetition of pleasure is fun.
  4. Good friends are never boring: Do you think that if you read Kant’s Critique of the Pure Reason you’d get it all in one go? Kant would not.
  5. Good stories are never fully understood: Do you think that if you read A Midsummernight’s Dream you’d get it all in one go? Shakespeare would not.
  6. Good stories gain through repetition: You learn more reading The postman always rings twice for the 3rd time than loosing the pleasure of reading over some boring “must read” classic that doesn’t talk to you.
  7. Repetition is sweet: Imagine a guy that eats his favorite meal just one time, because he is “afraid to get bored” or he “doesn’t have the time to eat the same thing twice”. Kids love repetition. Why do you think that is?

Why am I writing about this?

All seven reasons apply just as well to websites. Try and read a blog entry you really liked – again. If you enjoy it as much or even more than the first time, it’s a good piece of work. If you’re bored – it’s not. All you have to do to find out if my theory works is to overcome the initial resistance.

Here is a list of work related books I read at least twice. Following that a list of my favorite books.

Usability, Interface Design, Programming

Jef Raskin: The Humane Interface: New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems A book that will open your eyes. Jef Raskin, the father of the Macintosh wrote this masterwork shortly before his way to early death. It’s the requiem of a modern genius. I was so fascinated by his writing that I skipped work for one day in order to finish it. I felt that I couldn’t go on doing what I was doing before I didn’t know how this book ends. It has helped me a great deal explaining to myself why I am doing what I am doing.

The Pragmatic Programmer A useful approach to software design and construction that allows for efficient, profitable development of high-quality products. Elements of the approach include specification development, customer relations, team management, design practices, development tools, and testing procedures. This approach is presented with the help of anecdotes and technical problems.

Prioritizing Web Usability In 2000, Jakob Nielsen, the world’s leading expert on Web usability, published a book that changed how people think about the Web Designing Web Usability. Many applauded. A few jeered. But everyone listened.

The best-selling usability guru is back and has revisited his classic guide, joined forces with Web usability consultant Hoa Loranger, and created an updated companion book that covers the essential changes to the Web and usability today.

Prioritizing Web Usability is the guide for anyone who wants to take their Web site(s) to next level and make usability a priority.


Typography

Emil Ruder, Typographie Emil Ruder’s Typography is the timeless textbook from which generations of typographer and graphic designers have learned their fundamentals. Ruder, one of the great twentieth-century typographers was a pioneer who abandoned the conventional rules of his discipline and replaced them with new rules that satisfied the requirements of his new typography.

Kimberly Elam, Grid Systems: Principles of Organizing Type Although grid systems are the foundation for almost all typographic design, they are often associated with rigid, formulaic solutions. However, the belief that all great design is nonetheless based on grid systems (even if only subverted ones) suggests that few designers truly understand the complexities and potential riches of grid composition.

Muller-Brockman, Grid Systems: A visual communication manual for graphic designers, typographers and three dimensional designers. From a professional for professionals, here is the definitive word on using grid systems in graphic design. Though Muller-Brockman first presented hi interpretation of grid in 1961, this text is still useful today for anyone working in the latest computer-assisted design.

I haven’t read a single book on branding that is worth mentioning here

Books on branding usually look cheap, think cheap, are cheap. Somehow the branding community seems keen on keeping that know-how to themselves. That’s one reason why I decided to start writing one by myself. If you have a good tip, please leave a comment.

Business

Winning by Jack Welch The first and only business book I ever read. I bought it as high browed as you’d expect it from a former philosophy student at Venice airport, because I forgot my Wittgenstein in the hotel. I devoured “Winning” on the plane with both eye brows high up. This evil looking tycoon said: Managing is all about being candid. If candice is a managerial quality, I’m going to be a tycoon, I thought. Well, candice is not everything, obviously. So I decided to give the idea of an own company another try. Maybe I should read more business books. Honestly, I read this only once, but I would still like to feature it here, because it’s an amazing read, especially for former philosophy or art students.

Books I read over and over again

  1. Thomas Bernhard Cutting Wood, Old Masters, Extinction
  2. Ludwig Wittgenstein On Certainty, Tractatus Logico Philosophicus
  3. Plato Symposion, Theaitet
  4. Arthur Schopenhauer On the Freedom of the Will
  5. Franz Kafka The Process, The Castle, America
  6. Friedrich Nietzsche The Geneaology of Morals and The Antichrist
  7. Immanuel Kant Critique of the Pure Reason, Anthropology, Critique of Practical Reason, Critique of judgment
  8. Kenzaburo Oe A Personal Matter
  9. Charles Bukowski Post Office, Ham on Rye
  10. Theodor W. Adorno Minima Moralia: Reflections on a Damaged Life
  11. Arthur Rimbaud A Season in Hell

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