A person’s reading list is revealing.
But we tend to associate reading lists with authors, English professors, and self improvement podcasts.
So I was surprised when I came across typeface designer Doyald Young’s reading list, by both the number of titles and the content.
There was little in the way of design.
Young’s list of titles include classic literature, memoir, essay collections, and history tomes.
After learning about Young’s pre-design career life, the variety on his reading list comes as less of a surprise.
The life experiences collected as a former bellhop, usher, railroad breakman and junk car dismantler (technical term) must’ve contributed to his varied reading tastes.
Below are the titles that surprised me most. There isn’t an
algorithm here, only an instant reaction.
The descriptions below the titles are Doyald’s words.
One Hundred Years of Solitude—Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Three generations in a Columbian village
The Elements of Style—Prof. Strunk and E. B. White
How to write clearly by two no-nonsense teachers.
Slow Days and Fast Company—Eve Babitz
A wicked tale of Hollywood, Rolling Stone, and groupies
The Elements of Typographic Style—Robert Bringhurst
A poet’s expert take on typography, beautifully designed. A classic, vital book.
Young’s reading list was posted in it’s entirety on his wonderful website.
Unfortunately it’s down at the moment.
The remainder of the list is below:
On Photography—Susan Sontag
Thoughts on images by one of our finest thinkers
The Proud Tower—Barbara Tuchman
The events that led to WWI
The Seven Sisters—Anthony Sampson
History of the companies that developed the Middle East oil fields
Growth of the Soil—Knut Hamsen
A Nobel Prize winner’s take on injustice and farm life
The Sun King—Nancy Mitford
The History of Louis xiv, Versailles and lots of gossip
Conquest of Mexico—William Prescott
Cortez’s foray into Mexico; adventure, betrayal, wise kings and monks
Language and Silence—George Steiner
Artists who abandon their art. Heavy going. Enlightening.
Madame Bovary—Gustav Flaubert
An elegant tale about vanity. An easy reading classic.
Collected Stories of Paul Bowles
One of America’s finest short story writers. Penetrating. Bizarre, exotic.
Let it Come Down—Paul Bowles
A tale of love and madness in the desert
Four Essays on Liberty—Isaiah Berlin
Heavy going about liberty. Vital.
The Greek Way to Civilization—Edith Hamilton
An introduction to art, history, culture and politics
Axle’s Castle—Edmund Wilson
Literary criticism. American writers who fled to Paris after WW1
Stories of Three Decades—Thomas Mann
Formal, classic stories of the human condition
Patterns in Nature—Peter S. Stevens
A learned, insightful account of form and texture in nature. Vital.
http://www.doyaldyoung.com/20-books-doyald-recommends/, Doyald Young
https://www.aiga.org/medalist-doyaldyoung/, Marian Bantjes