Jessica Helfand

Graphic Designer / United States / Winterhouse

Jessica Helfand’s Book List

I mostly read non-fiction, only a fraction of which is design-related. I tend to get more out of reading non-design-related things (as this list will reveal), I think, because the references and the language tend to stretch both my mind and my vocabulary. (I often tell my students that I get more out of a New Yorker profile than any design book, and it’s true.) . . . View the complete text
3 books
Janet Malcolm

Malcolm’s investigation of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas is really about the relationship between them, making for a fascinating read. She’s as interested in the idea of what it is to write a biography as she is in reporting on theirs—a move that’s at once self-effacing and deeply revealing, offering a kind of transparency that’s rarely evident in investigative journalism.

Gail A. Hornstein

Hornstein, a professor of psychology at Mount Holyoke, writes a moving book about people who hear voices and the degree to which they suffer, but her book is much more than this. She’s a gifted writer—keenly insightful and profoundly empathetic—qualities that are perfectly suited for material that she deftly weaves into a fascinating chronicle of silent human struggle. (The book’s title comes from an asylum-bound Victorian seamstress who was so traumatized—literally rendered speechless—by her affliction that she sewed a mysterious autobiographical text into the lining of her clothing.)

Daniel J. Boorstin

A seminal book, surprisingly overlooked by contemporary audiences (especially students), that rings true even though it was written in 1969. Particularly interesting to read with regard to current media practices: what would Boorstin have made of reality TV, I wonder. Or Twitter?

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