July 14, 2024

Turn Off Your Computer and Go Read a Book

I know what you are saying. What do you want me to do? Turn off my computer? What? Yes! Turn it off and step away. Sometimes we need to disconnect from the internet and revert to a more basic technology: Books! Here are 8 suggestions from my bookshelf.

Bullet Proof Web Design

This book helped me learn how to make table-less websites. Dan Cedarholm takes you from the basics to the advanced css ninja skills. He also shows how popular websites are (horribly) coded and then shows you a better way to code them. This book is a staple in my library which i still reference a lot.

CSS Mastery: Advanced Web Standards Solutions

The only other css book I own. This book is the older geekier cousin of bullet proof web design. less pictures, way more technical, but still amazing. this book gets down into the nitty gritty of css. Css mastery is worth reading, and re-reading again and again.

Caffeine For The Creative Mind

Not specifically a web design book but a great addition to a library anyways. Do you ever feel stuck or uninspired? This book has tons of little creative exercises that will jump start your brain and inspire you.

Don’t Make Me Think

Another great staple in a web designers library. The information in this book may seem obvious but its really good to sit down and think about usability and testing. Web conventions exist for a reason! This book is a quick read that will get you thinking about your users.

Making And Breaking The Grid

This book was required reading (or rather viewing) for one of my classes in college for a good reason. Grids are the skeleton of good design – without them our designs would be chaotic and unorganized. Once you know how to establish a follow a grid structure, you learn how to break it!

History Of Graphic Design

Web design is deeply indebted to its closely related cousin graphic design. If you don’t read this book (which you probably should) just flipping through it will surely give you inspiration. Its amazing to see what designers produced before computers existed! Learn from your design elders and read this book!

Thinking With Type

While this book may be written for a print designer we can still gain alot of information from it and apply it to the web. Thinking with type is a great intro to typography book with tons of pictures and examples of how to make beautiful type.


Fingerprint will help you think outside the ‘div box’ that we often get trapped in as web designers. This book is packed with hand drawn inspiration and insight from designers about the creation process.

Other Resources

Thinking with type: the companion website

Design History
Design History is a great site by Nancy Stock-Allen that provides a brief outline of the history of graphic design.

Elements of typographic style applied to the web

What are some of your favorite web design related books?

Hey there! I'm Niki - a graphic designer by day and blogger by night. When I'm not designing, I enjoy long walks on the beach, squirrels, bananas, and living in Boston.


  1. Nathan Beck Reply

    Some bang on books there, but I’d have to add to that list:

    – Transcending CSS by Andy Clarke
    – Designing for Interaction by Dan Saffer
    – Whatever you think, think the opposite by Paul Arden
    – It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be by Paul Arden
    – The Principles of Beautiful Web Design by Jason Beaird
    – The Logo (or ‘Los Logos’ I think they’re called)series has been highly recommended but I’ve not read any yet

    …well there’s a few

  2. Raymond Selda Reply

    You really have a nice collection. I already have Steve Krug’s book. I might purchase Caffeine for the Creative Mind and Making and Breaking the Grid.

    Thank you for sharing insights on your books.

  3. Brandon Cox Reply

    Anything Sitepoint puts out – not that fond of their promotion of design contests, but they promote great books – basics when it comes to design, but a lot of help on coding.

  4. Kyle Gallant Reply

    Excellent post!

    I have been on the search for good web design books for awhile now, and this is a wonderful collection. I have read CSS Mastery, and it was an excellent book on the subject.

    Since I have taken it upon myself to learn web design, this is a very good post indeed.

  5. Dan Lee Reply

    Good selection. The first book is right where it should be: the top of the list. Dan Cederholm’s book also sits on top of my pile on the side of my desk and has been there for months. I was just saying to myself a few weeks ago “I think I’ve finally outgrown this book” but I can’t tell you how many times in the past I’ve gone back to it over and over again.

    Bulletproof is not tutorial based, or at least it doesn’t seem to be. And the reason I flip through it time and time again is not because I forget how to develop with CSS. I check it make sure I’m not getting into any bad habits. Dan lays out the best way to do things with browser compatibility and user friendly markup at the forefront of his priorities. Dan avoids using css hacks as much as possible to make sure the experience a user has is not dependent on their browser limitations or restrictions based on preference (such as larger default text).

    This is getting long. I’m stopping. Get Dan’s book.

  6. Rick Reply

    The first two are in my library and two others I want to add. Caffeine for the Creative Mind and Making and Breaking the Grid. I’m currently reading through CSS Mastery again and a few other tech books, but when I want a total break from design I read more important works that deal with life’s most important questions. I’m currently reading Can Man LIve Without God by Ravi Zacharias.

  7. John Wang Reply

    I agree with Nathan on:
    – The Principles of Beautiful Web Design by Jason Beaird

    It’s a great book. I’d also recommend:
    – Everything You Know About CSS is Wrong! by Rachel Andrew
    – Designing with Web Standards by Jeffrey Zeldman

  8. kenroy george Reply

    sweet list. ran through a few of these and they were indeed good reads.

    a few good others are:
    The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst
    The Elements of User Experience by Jesse James Garret

    maybe i have a thing for “the elements of”…


  9. Owen Reply

    I love the title of this post.

    Also, sometimes picking up a book completely non-related to web design and development can do wonders. For instance, I picked up an excellent by Bill Bryson the other day which introduced me to the world of Shakespeare. In return, I was able to clear my mind of all that was stressing me out on certain projects and come back to two designs with fresh perspectives.

    Keep up the good work!


  10. Preston Reply

    Here are a couple of my favorites to add to the list. I read about 16 books this last year.

    Designing the Obvious
    Designing the Moment
    Web Form Designs

    Both are by great authors and have practical information user experience designers can implement quickly.


  11. Web Design Sarasota Reply

    I find reading motivational books can and WILL get your mind stimulated to create and be creative. Great resource of information Niki and I think too many developers and designers are stuck staring at a computer because of all the FREE sources out there. But dont understand that getting away from the computer will benefit.

  12. Qurrat Reply

    Nice post!

    The link to “Thinking with type: the companion website
” is not working, by the way.

    wanted to have a look…

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