Creatives on the books that shaped them

We speak to figures from the worlds of design, advertising, and more about the books they’ve learned the most from over the course of their careers

Books are one of the cornerstones of how we learn. They enable us to teach ourselves new skills, offer insights into other worlds, both real and imagined, and encourage us to look inwards in order to explore our outlook on life. As big fans of the written word, the CR team decided to ask individuals from across all corners of the creative industries to share the books that have played a formative role in both their lives and work.

The results are gloriously varied, spanning classic tomes by some of the titans of the industry through to more niche titles on subjects such as ethnography. We hope you enjoy reading their contributions just as much as we did, and that they might just encourage you to think about the books that have taught you the most over the years. Happy reading!


For me, the book I treasure, share, and come back to more than any other has to be A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. It might not sound like the most conventional book to offer a design or creative education, as it’s a memoir-come-novel, but in truth that is where its strengths lie. Everything about this book is a considered act and expression of creativity. The way it’s produced, and the way its subsequent editions have been produced, are craft personified. Its honesty and candour is alarmingly pure. And the way it’s composed influenced my writing, and my wanting to write, immeasurably.

Though it does feature some bits of graphic design (Eggers was a working designer before this book made him an author, as it were) you won’t find grid systems, colour theory, typographic rigour, or any of that here. But I’ve always believed that the best thing about design isn’t design itself, but what you can use design to become involved in. This book demonstrated that to me, and demonstrates that still.