23 Books Recommended by Ryan Singer

Head of Strategy and design at Basecamp

1. The Economy of Cities by Jane Jacobs

In this book, Jane Jacobs, building on the work of her debut, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, investigates the delicate way cities balance the interplay between the domestic production of goods and the ever-changing tide of imports. Using case studies of developing cities in the ancient, pre-agricultural world, and contemporary cities on the decline, like the financially irresponsible New York City of the mid-sixties, Jacobs identifies the main drivers of urban prosperity and growth, often via counterintuitive and revelatory lessons.

2. Competing Against Luck by Karen Dillon

The foremost authority on innovation and growth presents a path-breaking book every company needs to transform innovation from a game of chance to one in which they develop product…

3. Domain-driven Design by Eric Evans

Describes ways to incorporate domain modeling into software development….

4. A Third Window by Robert E. Ulanowicz

Thus far, the dominant paradigms through which modern scientists have viewed nature have been structured primarily around Newtonian and Darwinian approaches. As theoretical ecologist Robert E. Ulanowicz observes in his new work, A Third Window, neither of these models is sufficient for explaining how real change — in the form of creative advance or emergence — takes place in nature.The metaphysical foundations laid by these great thinkers centuries ago are ill suited to sustain today’s search for a comprehensive description of complex living systems. Ecosystem dynamics, for example, violate each and every one of the Newtonian presuppositions. Hence, Ulanowicz offers his titular “third window” — a new way of understanding evolution and other natural processes beyond the common mechanistic or materialistic philosophies of nature…

5. The Oregon Experiment (Center for Environmental Structure) by Christopher Alexander

After a ten-year silence, Christopher Alexander and his colleagues at the Center for Environmental Structure are not publishing a major statement in the form of three works which will, in their words, “lay the basis for an entirely new approach to architecture, building, and planning, which will, we hope, replace existing ideas and practices entirely.” The three books are The Timeless Way of Building, A Pattern Language, and The Oregon Experiment. At the core of these books is the idea that people should design for themselves their own houses, streets, and communities…

6. Jony Ive by Leander Kahney

Jony Ive’s designs have not only made Apple one of the most valuable companies in the world; they have overturned entire industries, from music and mobile phones to PCs and tablets…

7. Smalltalk Best Practice Patterns by Kent Beck

This classic book is the definitive real-world style guide for better Smalltalk programming. This author presents a set of patterns that organize all the informal experience successful Smalltalk programmers have learned the hard way. When programmers understand these patterns, they can write much more effective code. The concept of Smalltalk patterns is introduced, and the book explains why they work. Next, the book introduces proven patterns for working with methods, messages, state, collections, classes and formatting. Finally, the book walks through a development example utilizing patterns. For programmers, project managers, teachers and students — both new and experienced. This book presents a set of patterns that organize all the informal experience of successful Smalltalk programmers. This book will help you understand these patterns, and empower you to write more effective code.

8. The Battle for the Life and Beauty of the Earth by Christopher Alexander

Using the example of building the Eishin Campus in Japan, this book demonstrates the successful application of Christopher Alexander’s principles and production methods to large-sc…

9. The Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander

The theory of architecture implicit in our world today, Christopher Alexander believes, is bankrupt. More and more people are aware that something is deeply wrong. Yet the power of present-day ideas is so great that many feel uncomfortable, even afraid, to say openly that they dislike what is happening, because they are afraid to seem foolish, afraid perhaps that they will be laughed at. Now, at last, here is a coherent theory which describes in modern terms an architecture as ancient as human society itself.

10. Microinteractions by Dan Saffer

It’s the little things that turn a good digital product into a great one. With this full color practical book, you’ll learn how to design effective microinteractions: the small details that exist inside and around features. How can users change a setting? How do they turn on mute, or know they have a new email message? Through vivid, real-world examples from today’s devices and applications, author Dan Saffer walks you through a microinteraction’s essential parts, then shows you how to use them in a mobile app, a web widget, and an appliance. You’ll quickly discover how microinteractions can change a product from one that’s tolerated into one that’s treasured…

11. The Process of Creating Life: The Nature of Order, Book 2 : An Essay of the Art of Building and the Nature of the Universe by Christopher Alexander

In book two of this four-volume work, Alexander explains in detail the kinds of process that are capable of generating living structure. The unfolding of living structure in natural systems is compared to the unfolding of buildings and town plans in traditional society, and then contrasted with present-day building processes. The comparison reveals deep and shocking problems which pervade the present day planning and construction of buildings. Pervasive changes are needed to create a world in which living process — and hence living structure — are possible; these are changes which are ultimately attainable only through a transformation of society. It is the use of sequences which makes it possible for each building to become unique, exactly fitted to its context, and harmonious. And it is also this use of sequences which makes it possible for people to participate effectively in the layout of their own buildings and communities

12. A Vision of a Living World: The Nature of Order, Book 3 : An Essay of the Art of Building and the Nature of the Universe by Christopher Alexander

In book three of this four-volume work, Alexander presents hundreds of his own buildings and those of other contemporaries who have used methods consistent with the theory of living process Nearly seven hundred pages of projects, built and planned in many countries over a thirty-year period, illustrate the impact of living process on the world. The book provides the reader with an intuitive feel for the kind of world, its style and geometry, which is needed to generate living structure in the world and its communities, together with its ecological and natural character. The projects include public buildings, neighbourhoods, housing built by people for themselves, public urban space, rooms, gardens, ornament, colours, details of construction and construction innovation. The many buildings shown, and the methods need to design and build these buildings, define living structure in a practical way that can be understood and copied.

13. A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander

Two hundred and fifty-three archetypal patterns consisting of problem statements, discussions, illustrations, and solutions provide lay persons with a framework for engaging in arc…

14. The Ecological Approach To Visual Perception by James J. Gibson

This is a book about how we see: the environment around us (its surfaces, their layout, and their colors and textures); where we are in the environment; whether or not we are movin…

15. The Joy of Clojure by Michael Fogus

Summary The Joy of Clojure, Second Edition is a deep look at the Clojure language. Fully updated for Clojure 1.6, this new edition goes beyond just syntax to show you the “why” of…

16. Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins

Claude Hopkins, the father of modern advertising techniques, believed that -Advertising is salesmanship,- and as such it should be measurable and justify the results that it produced. In Scientific Advertising, he explains precisely how to do that, and the principles he discovered and documented are as true today as when they were first written. This business classic covers mail-order marketing, headlines, psychology, strategy, budgeting, and more advanced subjects like negative advertising and how to test an advertising campaign. Whatever advertising medium you use, from print to the Internet, the fundamental principles of Scientific Advertising are universal and timeless.

17. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward R. Tufte

Graphical practice. Theory of data graphics….

18. Surfaces and Essences by Douglas Hofstadter

Is there one central mechanism upon which all human thinking rests? Cognitive scientists Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander argue that there is. At this core is our incessant p…

19. The Design of Everyday Things Revised and Expanded Edition by Don Norman

Even the smartest among us can feel inept as we fail to figure out which light switch or oven burner to turn on, or whether to push, pull, or slide a door. The fault, argues this ingenious — even liberating — book, lies not in ourselves, but in product design that ignores the needs of users and the principles of cognitive psychology….

20.- Hot Text: Web Writing that Works by Jonathan Price

Attention, Web writers! This book will show you how to craft prose that grabs your guests’ attention, changes their attitudes, and convinces them to act. You’ll learn how to make your style fast, tight, and scannable. You’ll cook up links that people love to click, menus that mean something, and pages of text that search engines rank high. You’ll learn how to write great Web help, FAQs, responses to customers, marketing copy, press releases, news articles, e-mail newsletters, Webzine raves, or your own Web resume. Case studies show real-life examples you can follow. No matter what you write on the Web, you’ll see how to personalize, build communities, and burst out of the conventional with your own honest style.

21. The Innovator’s Dilemma When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail by Clayton M. Christensen

Named one of 100 Leadership & Success Books to Read in a Lifetime by Amazon Editors; A Wall Street Journal and Businessweek bestseller. Named by Fast Company as one of the most influential leadership books in its Leadership Hall of Fame. An innovation classic….

22. The Innovator’s Solution Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth by Clayton M. Christensen, Michael E. Raynor

An innovation classic. From Steve Jobs to Jeff Bezos, Clay Christensen’s work continues to underpin today’s most innovative leaders and organizations.; A seminal work on disruption—for everyone confronting the growth paradox….

23. Notes on the Synthesis of Form by Christopher Alexander

“These notes are about the process of design: the process of inventing things which display new physical order, organization, form, in response to function.” This book, opening with these words, presents an entirely new theory of the process of design. In the first part of the book, Mr. Alexander discusses the process by which a form is adapted to the context of human needs and demands that has called it into being…

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Categories: Literature & Fiction

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