Bruce Hannah

Product/Industrial Designer / United States / Hannah Design and Pratt Institute

Bruce Hannah’s Book List

I was introduced to reading in my junior year at Pratt by Rowena Reed Kostellow, my mentor and teacher. After reading something I’d written, she suggested that I start reading the profiles in The New Yorker. Her thinking went that if you read well-written stuff, you would write better. I suggest books to my students for that very reason.

I’ve come to understand that most books, in the end, are about design in some way or another. The plots of most novels are designed, and the people who inhabit them are all struggling with creativity in one way or another. Books are also touchstones that remind us of something (or someone) that moves us or challenges us. Reading is also just plain fun, which may be its greatest pleasure.

4 books
Alan Lightman

What is time? Why does it exist? When, some years ago, I asked students to design a clock, one student designed a clock made of chocolate that had only an hour hand. When I asked him why, he said, “It’s a Swiss clock, designed for Einstein.” I think Lightman’s book explains why that clock would have made sense to Einstein.

Charles Bukowski

The drinking man’s Sylvia Plath, Bukowski reassures me that the creative process is a minefield of disasters and successes. Every one of Bukowski’s books delivers a diatribe of angst about technology, “the Typer” (his manual typewriter), people (usually ex-wives or girlfriends), and society that make the writer crazy and unable to break writer’s block. It’s comforting to know that you are not alone in experiencing difficulties making something.

Toni Morrison

Reading Toni Morrison allows one to enter a society that includes everyone. There are no barriers, but there is a lot of pain and joy and humanity. It isn’t a coincidence that Jazz is a great title—jazz is great music/art that transcends and transforms just about everything you think is true and false. The book also helped me understand what America might be all about.

Primo Levi

The story “The Sixth Day” is a must-read for anyone ever caught up in one of those design meetings where everything is impossible and nothing can change, “because, that’s the way it is.” Levi’s explorations of the “mimer” (a duplicating machine that makes three-dimensional copies) and other fabulous American devices foretell much of what might be the future.

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