In writing my Setting New Goals post, I brought up that I'd received a few books for Christmas, which gave me the idea for this post.

If you want to get into media production, the first thing you'll usually do is start watching tutorials. By now I've seen so many that I'm now at a point where I'm starting to look at other people's work and know exactly which video they watched to make it. No joke. I'm really upset about it. What a nerd. However, the more I see the more I notice what seems to be a skills leap between the ultra-professional, super-skilled stuff and what you can make on YouTube, so I look to books to learn more fundamental techniques. Industry leaders often tend to put out work, or communities will hold certain books in regard, so for exclusive and important new information it's a great port of call.

This isn't just for media production either! You can learn a lot of from personal development books, business books, biographies or manuals on other fields and skills. There's something about seeing something printed that makes you absorb information with a much higher regard.

So without further ado, let's get into my booklist!


Later edit: I just saw a post from Chris Do, head of LA communications agency Blind and online business/design education platform The Futur (and huge role model) share his booklist, calling it his 'source code'. What a great way to think about the books that define your fundamental knowledge. Seek to build your source code.


Contents

Creative Development

Pretty Much Everything - Aaron Draplin

Design of the 20th Century - Charlotte and Peter Fiell

Logotype - Michael Evamy

Making and Breaking the Grid - Timothy Samara

Grid Systems in Graphic Design - Josef Müller-Brockmann

The Decision Book - Mikael Krogerus and Roman Tschäppeler

Business and Personal Development

Letters from a Stoic - Seneca

How to Win Friends and Influence People - Dale Carnegie

Entrepreneur Revolution - Daniel Priestley

The Rules of Work - Richard Templar

7 Strategies for Wealth and Happiness - Jim Rohn

Start with Why - Simon Sinek

Meditations - Marcus Aurelius

 

Business and Personal Development

Letters from a Stoic - Seneca

I'm currently reading Letters from a Stoic after some hefty encouragement from Tim Ferriss. The book is a collection of advisory letters sent by Seneca the Younger to a young Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, better known as Emperor Nero. Each letter, although short, extolls a particular virtue of the stoic philosophy, which presents its disciples with patience, resilience and calmness. Seneca presents his arguments in an inconspicuously agreeable way that takes whatever stresses existing upon your picking up the book and melts them down into rubbish little staples that'll sit in the drawer for years and never get used.

I make the error of thinking too far into the future, which is a detriment to my productivity as I'm often overwhelmed considering larger workloads than the tasks I have to do immediately. Reading this book for minutes each day has, for me, put racing thoughts to bed and is proving a great cure to my instinctive toxic mindset that I'm just about hanging on. Instead, my perspective shifts to one of freedom and I consider the work I have to do a breeze in the wake of worse circumstances I'm fortunate enough to not be undergoing.

 

How to Win Friends and Influence People - Dale Carnegie

This book gives you confidence. There's no two ways about it. It's infuriating.

Here's how this book works: each chapter opens with Dale introducing a new technique to help positive relationship building. He then tells you about how Abraham Lincoln used it on his head chef and it worked. He'll then tell you the head of some company was renowned for saying some quote supporting the trick. Then he'll wax about two exasperated parents using it on a little boy who just won't sleep in his own bed. Then he'll throw in a story about a man on an oil plant using it to win over his tough, gruff boss in a employee rights dispute. Repeat for about sixteen new contexts, and sprinkle in some hearsay-esque quotes about how "Ralph Waldo Emerson (or some other figure well-known in the 30s) would always say to his wife..." There's no evidence for any one of these stories, no accrediation, no studies, no years.

Doesn't matter.

You read one chapter of this book and that lesson is all you'll think about for the rest of the day. You immediately feel more positive, more socially adept, more confident. Read it regularly and you'll start forming habits, viewing the world from ol' Dale's pain-free, happily-ever-after balcony of bliss. I've been using the internet long enough that I'm usually the first to raise an eyebrow at "this thing my mate's mate did" so reading this book was an irritating experience, both in being forced to sit through so many spun yarns and in discovering all his solutions worked wonders.

Learning by repetition in the purest form. Would definitely recommend.

 

Entrepreneur Revolution - Daniel Priestley

I had to stop myself from reading this book too late at night because it would make me want to get out of bed and start working. I read it on and off over 2017 and found it to be a great practical resource. Daniel Priestley paints the new wave of entrepreneurship as something we cannot resist, and in our subsequent panic he offers framework after model after four-step-process to make sure our business plans, our product development, even our internal voices, are passing the quality checks. I'm due another flick through.

 

The Rules of Work - Richard Templar

There seems to be a trend of lesson-per-chapter books on my shelf. This book makes you picture yourself as a secret agent, disguised as a humble worker whilst laying the foundations for your real objectives. It's a read that's more oriented to office-based industries and as I'm both senior manager and disgruntled employee here at Seabrook Media, the rules don't always fit nicely into my framework, but for me, this book is a catalyst for entering a maximum-productivity mindset. Every chapter is maybe two pages long and states the Rule, why it's important and how it will benefit you, whilst giving you a greater appreciation of how businesses work in the bigger picture. You're taught how to be useful in the right way, when to speak up, when to keep your head down, and how to play the career ladder game. For those who worry their focus in the workplace is holding back their progression, keep this in your desk drawer.

 

7 Strategies for Wealth and Happiness - Jim Rohn

I haven't started this at the time of writing, but I'm excited to jump in. I reached out to Chris Do to ask why this book made his list along with more design- and business-related works. His response: "Oh, it's so good. He's the Godfather of all the people that talk about business. Go to the source code."

That's enough for me. I'll take one more glance at my Superhero medicine post then hear what he has to say.

 

Start with Why - Simon Sinek

Let's start with why Start with Why is on this list. Why Start with Why is on this list is because everyone talks about this bloody book and everyone talks about his bloody Ted talk. It's a good talk to be fair. I'm yet to start with Start with Why and I've not been able to start is why, because I'm reading a couple of the books on this list already, but I've heard loads of people saying that people starting businesses should start with Start with Why and a start that starts with Start with Why is a good start. Why? I'll have to start to find out.

 

Meditations - Marcus Aurelius

I picked this up to move onto once I'm done with Letters from a Stoic. They apparently go hand in hand very well.

 

 

Creative Development

Pretty Much Everything - Aaron Draplin

This books is awesome. Pure, unadulterated graphic design philosophy and work from a genuine man who loves what he does. It's written by him, made by him, filled with his work, his life, his influences. He's been a big inspiration for me. Pretty Much Everything lit that fire in me where I'm excited to see what help I can give with my work.

He also featured in a documentary piece that really struck a chord with me. Something about the positive, minimalist tone made me see just how easily I could make a documentary. Months later, I'm editing the final cut of that documentary. Inspirational.

I was going to reach out to him to tell him how much I enjoyed his book, but when I got on his site I discovered just how many people commented on his blog and probably emailed in. It was a shame because there'd be no way he'd get to see my email. Let it be known here for the annals of the internet that I liked this book. Maybe one day he'll happen across this page. Thanks Aaron.

 

Design of the 20th Century - Charlotte and Peter Fiell

I happened across this book and realised it was the answer to my prayers about six months ago. As I'm slowly getting more and more into graphic design I found myself needing to know who the big players were after seeing the influential work of Paula Scher, Paul Rand and Massimo Vignelli. This book came like a blessing from above.

It's an encyclopedia of ground-breaking designers and design firms of everything from print to interior design. Each double-page spread is a description of an artist, what they did, who they worked for and what their influences were. It's a fast track for learning the influences of graphic design.

 

Logotype - Michael Evamy

I picked this up killing time in a bookshop waiting for a train down to London for a shoot. It's full of popular monograms, symbols, word-based designs and abstract emblems and describes their history, their designer and what makes it distinctive. What was valuable to me in this book was the writing style - it scratched the itch of being able to describe how what logos say that had been tugging away at me for ages. Great for pitches and learning how to more effectively describe the appeal of your design. Right now I'm about half way through and every page so far is covered in notes.

 

Making and Breaking the Grid - Timothy Samara

Something I'm working on a lot at the moment is my editorial layout skills, so I can make things look legitimate, neat and organised. Making and Breaking the Grid was recommended in this interview with Ash Thorp (who, by the way, if you're interested in motion graphics design, get on this guy's work immediately) as a great manual for learning how to use white space effectively. It's pretty dense in theory and examples so I'm picking through it slowly, but it's full of that juicy juicy knowledge juice.

 

Grid Systems in Graphic Design - Josef Müller-Brockmann

Another one mentioned in the above interview, this book in itself is a work of art. Laid-out in an interesting two-column format with the left written in English and the right in a German translation (or vice versa considering the author's nationality), this book gives an anatomy of every part of the page and provides usage examples and history. I've just hit a segment that describes how to decide on the most appropriate division of grid-space for your content that I haven't read because I want to devote some time to really reading through it, as it's something that once I get the hang of, will let me turn a corner for my graphic design work.

 

The Decision Book - Mikael Krogerus and Roman Tschäppeler

I haven't touched this yet or heard much about it, but it's on Chris Do's booklist and sounds like it's going to be great for my productivity. The bottom line is developing strategies to how you'll divide your time, which brings to mind something I heard I think from Tony Robbins, where he says that a big problem of stagnation comes from avoiding making decisions - it's better to make a decision then deal with the consequences rather than deliberate on choosing which path to take, just like it's better to get work done then clean it up after rather than not do anything at all.


Comment