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We’ve compiled our favorite books; essential for design-oriented, creative business and superhuman success. In our opinion, these are the most influential and powerful books we know, some of which inspired us to start Crowbar Studios in the first place, and others which have guided our visual process over the years. Yes, they are all over the lot, but we’ll explain why. Here they are, not in any particular order, collect them all and absorb them deep into your brain:

The Design Entrepreneur, by Steven Heller. Traditionally, a designer’s go-to business startup has simply been a design studio or firm, but this book has tons of great examples of cool product-based businesses that designers have created.

Getting Real, published by 37 signals. This book describes how to run an awesomely minimalist, ultra streamlined business model. It’s not the most exciting read, but the simplicity it outlines relaxes me.

Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. Conceptually dense and hard to get through at parts, but the main ideas focus on people as producers and driving forces in the world, the type of people we see ourselves as, and the type of people we see our visionary clients as.

Thinking with type, by Ellen Lupton. Make sure you study this book closely before you apply for a job at Crowbar. It’s visually rich and will basically make you better at using and understanding typography.

Design School confidential, By Steven Heller and Lita Talarico. We had to give this book honorable mention because it features some of my older work, and we love Steven Heller. Landers Miller describes the book as “A a richly illustrated, anthology of over 50 of the most challenging class projects from design schools around the world. The 224 page book is bound with thick paper board covers referencing a classic composition book and an elastic strap to keep the readers place bound into the spine. Available October 2009 ©2009 Rockport Publishers.” -Zack

Let my people go Surfing, by Yvon Chouinard. How to run the “coolest company in the world”, and how to give back to the the world. I was at the Patagonia Office once and Yvon happened to be meeting with some Japanese Suits in his famous tin shed, they brought me in to meet him, very nice guy; a visionary.

Grid Systems, by Josef Müller-Brockmann. Also required reading before applying for a job with us at Crowbar. Back in design school I remember one of my teachers always saying, “In the land of graphic design, the grid is king.” This book is like reading parts of the old testament in the bible. If you’ve never read the old testament, it goes on and on forever into incredible detail. Grid systems is not an exciting read by all accounts, but one can learn a ton by just thumbing through the visuals, and memorizing a few of the laws of the grid universe. Your layout design will improve.

Outliers, by Malcom Gladwell. Gladwell examines the factors that contribute to high levels of success. To support his thesis, he examines the causes of why the majority of Canadian ice hockey players are born in the first few months of the calendar year, how Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates achieved his extreme wealth, and how two people with exceptional intelligence, Christopher Langan and J. Robert Oppenheimer, end up with such vastly different fortunes. Throughout the publication, Gladwell repeatedly mentions the “10,000-Hour Rule”, claiming that the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practising a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours.

On Value Investing, by Benjamin Graham. This book comes last not because of the ugly jacket design, but because you’ll need it last in your quest for greatness. You can’t make investments unless you have capital to invest with, and that will take some time or momentum, so tuck this book away for the point at which you are ready to begin compounding your resources. At Crowbar we believe in entrepreneurial risk without fear or hesitation, backed by safe, wise, decisions. Ben Graham is the originator of the investment philosophy which helped Warren Buffett become one of the richest people in the world.

There’s our top 9, what would you add to the list?



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