Gail Anderson

Graphic Designer / United States / Gail Anderson

Gail Anderson’s Book List

Online design research is helpful and I do love my audio books when I’m driving, but regular old hardcovers and paperbacks will always rule. Books have memories attached to them, the occasional forgotten slips of paper, and sometimes even an earnest childhood signature. My list is comprised of design books I can’t function without, titles that have had lasting meaning for me, and some that overlap both categories.

14 books
Emily Cheney Neville

Harriet the Spy, It’s Like This, Cat, and later, all of the S. E. Hinton books, were childhood favorites that still resonate to this day. Perhaps it’s the city kid side of me that identified with the adventurous loners I met through their stories.

Kevin Reagan
Introductory essay by Steven Heller

A 400-plus-page book that’s a steal and essential for any graphic designer’s bookshelf (along with In the Groove and Blue Note).

American Type Founders Company

I first saw this beautiful brick of a book when I was a young designer at Rolling Stone. A friend had a tattered copy—typesetters and designers often cut letters and dingbats out as needed—and I knew that I had to acquire my own. Of course, this was back in the dark ages before the Internet, so finding one meant scouring book fairs and flea markets. If you can score a 1923 ATF, do not hesitate to make the purchase. It will teach you everything you need to know about classic typography and good design.

Graham Marsh
Glyn Callingham

The first of many oversized softcovers on album cover design (and still the best).

Eric Kohler

In the Groove serves as a wonderfully concise introduction to Alex Steinweiss, Jim Flora, and Erik Nitsche—and who can resist a Desi Arnaz album cover?

John Lewis

If you can dig up a used copy, it’s worth the investment. There are lots of books about wood type, Victorian design, and printing techniques, but the reissue of Lewis’s 1962 Printed Ephemera sets the standard.

Elaine Lustig Cohen

The definitive title on Alvin Lustig.

Anne Lamott

I have read and reread Bird by Bird in a quest to enforce my commitment to writing regularly, but I think my attraction to this book is really Anne Lamott’s personal journey. This is one of those titles that people always recommend, and I can’t believe I waited so long to get on board.

Design doesn’t get any more smarty-pants than Paula Scher. And you might as well pick up her map book while you’re at it. I actually read Make It Bigger—meaning I didn’t just look at the pretty pictures, and scan the captions. That’s how smarty-pants it is.

William Strunk Jr.
E. B. White
Maira Kalman Illustrator

Everyone’s got a copy of this from a high school or college class, right? I still refer to it when writing, and of course, had to buy the illustrated Maira Kalman version, too.

This is the ultimate Paul Rand book.

Malcolm Gladwell

One of the smartest and most interesting volumes I’ve ever listened to on audiobook. It pretty much proves the notion that success doesn’t just happen by chance. I enjoy Malcolm Gladwell’s voice, too, so this one’s gotten lots of car time. (And I’ve seen him around my neighborhood and have almost said hi, since I feel like we’re old friends after so many listens.)

H. A. Rey

Any Curious George or Madeline book makes my list of favorites. I even have the anthologies. I wish I had the originals my sister and I shared as kids, but a girl can dream…

Completely digestible bits of graphic design history in one manageable book. I find myself referring to it more than any other design book I own, and I’ve got shelves full.

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