Alissa Walker’s Notable Books of 2011
2011 was notable for me as it was the year I began reading digitally, specifically, on my iPhone. After much hesitation, I eschewed the hardback book on my nightstand as I launched iBook, downloaded the Kindle app, and popped open PDFs of ebooks. The experiment was astounding. Where once reading was confined to a tiny corner of my bed, I was now dipping into stories while waiting in line at the grocery store, riding the bus, even as I walked around the block. Most importantly: Where I once had read a single book a month, I was now reading three or four or five.
If I could recommend anything when it comes to reading, I’d recommend going digital. And as I sat down to select these books, I realized that recommending my must-read design books this year should also include my recommendations on how to read them.
The first, Steve Jobs, would be scandalous to read on anything but an iPad or iPhone.
The second is a gossip-soaked art-world page-turner that you won't want to put down. So read Rebels in Paradise fast on a Kindle or Kindle app.
Designing for Emotion has a revolutionary publishing strategy that will change the way design books are distributed. The paperback can be gobbled in a few hours, but the accompanying PDF can sit on your desktop for reference.
Of course, some tomes still require a cinematic monitor, if you will. Star Wars: The Blueprints begs for a custom table—maybe even a custom room—to make the most of its expansive, visionary pages.
Maps by Paula Scher is a world onto itself which demands a place next to your couch, a good warm light, repeat viewings, a tour for guests.
And finally, one book that's 50 years old, re-released this year with a new introduction. The Death and Life of Great American Cities, I would say, should be read as it is practiced. Analog, hardback, in a park, with the hum of the city around you.
I've chosen six books that are personal, about people and their ideas. Technology has enabled us to take these ideas with us out in the world in a new way. But no matter how we choose to consume a book, it's still all about the story.
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- Discovering Design: New Series of Talks by Design Greats at Strand Book Store, May 3 – 19