Design book hit list: 5 must-reads for 2024

For web designers and beyond.

readymag blog_Design book hit list: 5 must-reads for 2024

These five design books are like a treasure trove, blending tips with big ideas about creativity. They're not just about picking up new skills—they really make you think differently. Whether you're a web designer, a graphic designer, an art director, a marketer, or an editor, you'll find valuable thoughts here.

Design book picks

  • Practical UI by Adham Dannaway.
  • Flexible Visual Systems by Martin Lorenz.
  • Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton.
  • The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin.
  • Design, Form, and Chaos by Paul Rand.

Practical UI by Adham Dannaway 

Goodreads rating: 4.5
For web designers who are just starting out or looking to refine their skills.

Practical UI by Adham Dannaway
Source: Practical UI

Designing intuitive, accessible, and beautiful interfaces can be tough, but it doesn't have to be. This web design book cuts through the chaos of options with a clear, logic-driven approach. The author, a seasoned product designer, spills the beans on the guidelines he's honed over nearly two decades. These aren't strict rules, but handy tips that work in most cases. Whether you're wrestling with layout, typography, or color choices, this book has got you covered. 

"I love design and wanted to share what I’ve learned over the years in my UI design book. My hope is that you’ll gain years of experience in a matter of hours."—Adham Dannaway, Author of Practical UI
Discover more books here: "The best book on UX design and 4 others you should check out"—It's your guide to the best reads on UX/UI design, from understanding user psychology to mastering the most effective concepts.

Flexible Visual Systems by Martin Lorenz 

Goodreads rating: 4.4
For designers of all stripes.

Flexible Visual Systems by Martin Lorenz 
Source: Bibliografik

"Flexible Visual Systems" is a deep dive into system design that combines 10 years of research and 20 years of practical experience from the design studio TwoPoints.Net. It's split into three parts: a theoretical introduction to the history and future of flexible systems, a visual guide on designing systems using basic shapes, and a section on using transformation processes in visual identities. You'll learn how to customize design systems to suit any style or project that requires a special visual touch. 

"The book is well-researched and the author is very pedagogical and explains the concepts thoroughly. I have been using the ideas and concepts of the book for a branding project this week, and I can confidently say that my thinking and craft have improved."—Mohammed Yarroum, UX Designer  
Dive into advice from Airbnb's Design Lead, Doug Alves, as he shares four career-boosting ideas and his top 10 design book picks.

Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton 

Goodreads rating: 4.1 
For anyone wanting to master typographic design.

Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton
Source: Bibliografik

It's a go-to guide for all things typography. Wondering about fonts, sizes, or how to make your text look good? This book’s got you covered. It’s split into three parts: letters, text, and grids, each packed with easy-to-digest essays and hands-on exercises. This book would make a great addition to any web design book collection. 

"Thinking With Type is a book that should be in the collection of every designer, writer, editor, publisher and typographer. Ellen Lupton’s excellent analysis of thinking with typography is perfect for everyone from the first-year student to the seasoned professional."—Dominic Flask, Freelance Designer

The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin

Goodreads rating: 4.1 
For artists and creative minds exploring the creation process. 

The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin
Source: Pentagram

This book by Rick Rubin, a well-known music producer who’s worked with artists like Linkin Park and Red Hot Chili Peppers, is about creativity and the artists’s journey. Though not strictly a design book, its insights on creativity are valuable for designers and other creative folks. Rubin shares his experiences from his career and highlights that being an artist isn’t just about what you create, but also about how you see the world. 

"I set out to write a book about what to do to make a great work of art. Instead, it revealed itself to be a book on how to be."—Rick Rubin, Author of The Creative Act
Formal design education: Is it worth it? Hear from three seasoned designers on what formal education in design really offers, and whether it's the right path for you. 

Design, Form, and Chaos by Paul Rand

Goodreads rating: 4.2
For product designers or anyone curious about how great design happens.

Design, Form, and Chaos by Paul Rand
Source: SPREAD

This book is like a backstage pass into Paul Rand's brain, showing how he thinks about everything from choosing fonts to principles of book design. The book is packed with his work and examples, including case studies of logos he made for big names like Next and IBM. It’s a must-read design book if you want to get inside the head of a legend and see how timeless design gets made.

"To have the preeminent graphic designer in America—the leading proponent of the Modern—intelligently and forcefully speak out makes this a document for today and the ages. Rand’s book is a classic."—Steven Heller, Art Director

Lifelong learning in design is all about feeding your curiosity and keeping up with the latest trends. One of the best ways to do this is by reading books as well as following design blogs and media—they’re full of new ideas and updates. To find the best ones, take a look at our article "Top design media and blogs to keep you educated & inspired."