Jeff Zych

2022 Reading List

I read 25 books in 2022, which is actually 1 more than in 2021. I definitely thought I read fewer then last year since we welcomed our daughter to the world this year (welcome Poppy!), but it turns out I maintained my reading pace.

Of note: I read 33% fewer fiction books this year (only 2 this year, down from 3 hah). Most of the books I read continue to be art and design related. Only 8 were by women, and 1 by a person of color. I did a much worse job at reading perspectives of under-represented peoples compared to prior years. This is also a reflection that most art and design books are written by white people.

Some faves

  • Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud: This has been on my reading list for years, and is recommended in basically every list of “X books every designer should read,” and I’m glad I finally did. It’s full of great principles of storytelling and visual communication.
  • How Buildings Learn: What happens after they’re built by Stewart Brand: Yet another book that’s been on my list for years, and is also on every recommended reading list for designers. But I see why – it’s a super interesting read about buildings and how they learn and adapt to use (or don’t). It lowered by respect for architects since it describes them as “stylists” and people who care more about awards and getting in magazines over listening to what the building inhabitants want (this is a broad brush, and I’m summarizing what was said in the book, but I know not every architect is like this). Especially surprising to me was to learn that post-occupancy evaluations (POEs), which is when architects talk to their building’s inhabitants to learn how well it works for them in day-to-day use, is rare. This is unthinkable to me as a designer since my bread and butter is talking to the users of the products I design to understand if they work for them or not, and using that to improve the product.
  • Creative Doing: 75 practical exercises to unblock your creative potential in your work, hobby, or next career by Herbert Lui: I love books about creativity, the creative process, and exercises to become more creative. This book has all 3. Now if only I had more time to do the creative exercises…
  • Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan: This is part memoir, as told through stories of surfing. I didn’t expect to enjoy this as much as I did. It starts slow, but then finds its groove as the author takes us through his surfing adventures he’s had all over the world. Learning about what makes for the perfect wave, the conditions to look for, the type of coastline, and so on, was surprisingly interesting. And he weaves into that the spiritual side of surfing, why he does it, and what drives him to keep doing it as he ages.
  • The Passage of Power (part 4 of The Years of Lyndon Johnson) by Robert Caro: And of course, Robert Caro’s last published volume of the LBJ biography makes this list. Yet another fascinating read about the man himself, presidential power, and how our government actually runs. This volume features the assassination of JFK and Lyndon’s ascension to the presidency, during which time a lot was happening behind the scenes that I had never heard about before (since most historical records focus on the assassination itself): multiple scandals closing in on LBJ, his incredibly smooth assumption of power and continuation of JFKs agenda despite being almost completely excluded from his predecessors administration, and the very short amount of time he had to break the logjams in Congress and show the American people he was a president who could get things done (and therefore get re-elected the following year). Really good read, and now I’m eagerly awaiting the 5th (and supposedly final) volume to be released, except Caro is in his 90s so… 😬

Full reading list

As always, you can view the full list and follow along with my current list in Notion.

  • Color Scheme: An Irreverent History of Art and Pop Culture in Color Palettes by Edith Young
  • The Overstory by Richard Powers
  • A Roomful of Hovings by John McPhee
  • White Fragility by Robin DeAngelo 👍
  • The ABC of Lettering by Ivan Castro 🖌
  • Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud 👍
  • Cribsheet: a data-driven guide to better, more relaxed parenting, from birth to preschool by Emily Oster 👨‍👩‍👧
  • Accelerate: Building and scaling high performing technology organizations by Nicole Forsgren, Jez Humble, and Gene Kim
  • Design: Type. A seductive collection of alluring type designs by Paul Burgess 👍
  • 1000 Record Covers by Michael Ochs
  • New Retro: Graphics and logos in retro styles, Designed and published by Victionary 🎨
  • Not All Diamonds and Rosé by Dave Quinn
  • About Face: The essentials of interaction design (4th edition) by Alan Cooper, Robert Reimann, David Cronin, Christopher Noessel 👍
  • Severance by Ling Ma
  • Creative Doing: 75 practical exercises to unblock your creative potential in your work, hobby, or next career by Herbert Lui 💯
  • Drunk: how we sipped, danced, and stumbled our way to civilization by Edward Slingerland 🍻
  • Graphic Design: The New Basics by Ellen Lupton & Jennifer Cole Phillips 🎨
  • Palette Perfect 2 by Lauren Wager 🎨
  • The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward Tufte 📈
  • Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan
  • The Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing and Thinking by Barbara Minto 👍
  • The World According to Color by James Fox 🌈
  • Envisioning Information by Edward Tufte
  • How Buildings Learn: What happens after they’re built by Stewart Brand 👍
  • The Passage of Power (part 4 of The Years of Lyndon Johnson) by Robert Caro 👍
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