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21 Books Every Creative Person Should Read

Nothing tells you more about a person than the book they’ve dog-eared the most. To celebrate National Book Lovers Day, we’re sharing the team’s MVBs—most-valuable books—to illustrate the connection between being well-read and being top-notch marketers, designers, and strategists.

Ready? Let’s open to chapter one.


Mike | Account Strategist
What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard N. Bolles

“This book helped me figure out what direction to take with my career to combine my talents and passions. 11 of the best dollars I ever spent! I think it should be required reading for all high school and college juniors in the United States.” 11 bucks for the meaning of your professional life? Sounds like a good deal.

Buy it >>


Chloe | Public Relations Specialist
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

“This book had a tremendous effect on how I look at life and the work I do. One quote from the book that really hit me (and it’s kind of become my daily mantra) is: ‘I won’t just have a job; I’ll have a calling. I’ll challenge myself every day. When I get knocked down, I’ll get back up. I may not be the smartest person in the room, but I’ll strive to be the grittiest.’” We may have to make t-shirts with that quote, Chloe.

Buy it >>


Marcus | Content Marketing Analyst
A Smile in the Mind by Beryl McAlhone, David Staurt, Greg Quinton, and Nick Asbury

Since its first publication in 1996, this seminal graphic design resource has only gotten better. Like Marcus, creatives around the globe refer to it as a “rich sourcebook of design ideas and an entertaining guide to the techniques behind witty thinking. As Marcus says, it’s also about “the element of surprise in design, advertising, and marketing.”

Buy it >>

Designing for Growth: A Design Thinking Tool Kit for Managers by Jeanne Liedtka and Tim Ogilvie

Have you ever had a complex idea stuck in your craw but struggled to get it out on paper, in Dreamweaver, or into a business plan? This book eases the transition from abstract thought to practical applications. Marcus elaborates, “it helps me think in terms of systems and functionality, more holistically.”

Buy it >>

The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries

Many startups fail, but those failures may be preventable. The ways of The Lean Startup are being applied to different industries, and Marcus uses these principles daily. As he says, “In digital marketing, constant iteration, testing, and refinement are the only ways to survive – and thrive!”

Buy it >>


Jenna | Graphic Designer
Making and Breaking the Grid: A Graphic Design Layout Workshop by Timothy Samara

“This was one of the first design books we were assigned in school. Fantastic choice, Professor Bao! It has served as a great reference through the years, helping me think outside of the box literally and figuratively. It’s hard to find a design book that remains relevant throughout the years, but this has certainly stood the test of time.”

Buy it >>

Posters for the People: Art of the WPA by Ennis Carter

“Most consider coffee table books clutter, but I consider them research! In a time when the country was seeking an identity and most of all, work, artists in the 1930s and 40s received funding from the government to aid in both. They created a distinct style while playing their part to boost our country’s economy, and this book is just a brief visual overview of their impact they had on the art world. Don’t be surprised if you see a small library housed on my coffee table strictly for inspiration.”

Buy it >>


Aaron | Art Director
The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst

“The Elements of Typographic Style is the typographer’s bible. Need to know the proper time to use an en-dash vs. an em-dash? Consult the good book. Need to know when it’s appropriate to hang punctuation or letter space an all-cap title? The good book has you covered. I don’t find the need to consult it much anymore, but it certainly set a well-balanced foundation for my typesetting.”

Buy it >>

Rework by Jason Fried

“Rework is a business book that gives advice like no other. It makes you stop and question standard business assumptions and delivers interesting new approaches with great design and easily digestible writing.”

Buy it >>


Kayla | Account Coordinator
The Badass Life by Christmas Abbott

“I love this personal growth book because it is written with a lot of personality and real examples about how to improve your mood, success, and life. Christmas gives daily steps on how to, little by little, make positive changes in your life, leading to an overall happier outcome.”

Buy it >>


Kasey | Content Marketing Specialist
Purple Cow by Seth Godin

“This is a quick and easy read, but it taught me a lot when I was first getting into marketing and shaped my perspective about how to help businesses stand out from the crowd. There are some great real-life examples in the book, and Seth Godin has a way of being very wise and easy-to-understand at the same time.”

Buy it >>


Eric | Copywriter / Asst. Creative Director
The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White

Recognizable all over by its title and authors’ names, this is “a classic resource for any writer, this one should be revisited over and over.” ‘Nough said, Eric.

Buy it >>


Derek | Director of Digital Marketing
What it Takes to Be #1 by Vince Lombardi, Jr.

“Tell people exactly what you expect of them and provide the right tools to do the job. Then get out of the way and let them do it.” Got leadership? Element does. (Thanks, Derek!)

Buy it >>


Tara | Director of Public Relations
7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Dr. Stephen Covey

Tara’s pick surpasses trends and delivers proven principles of fairness, integrity, honesty and human dignity. These seven habits will never go out of style.

Buy it >>


Kara | Account Executive / Brand Strategist
by Malcom Gladwell

“This book made me take a step back and realize that quick judgments and instinct can be a positive, and that sometimes it’s better to trust my gut versus questioning everything first.”

Buy it >>

Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell

“As someone who thrives on innovation, especially when working with clients in the food industry, this book was a great read about how an idea can become a reality.”

Buy it >>

Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, Al Switzler, Joseph Grenny, and Ron McMillan

“Not that I have perfected this talent by any means, but this book taught me to pause and really think about the facts of an issue instead of addressing problems with emotions. Darn amygdala!”

Buy it >>

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

“It goes without saying, everywhere you go, whether it’s work, home, or the grocery store, you need to know how to be a valuable team player. As someone who likes to plow through and lead at times, this book helped me appreciate teams and learn how I can be a better team player.”

Buy it >>


Shelby | Social Media Specialist
Bossypants by Tina Fey

“It’s a cliché choice, but here we go: Bossypants was the first time I could hang out with Tina Fey, unfiltered, and I learned that she was my work, life, and food role model. She absorbs criticism, success, and dairy products and sends them back out into the world as jokes so acerbic your eyes burn. For example, in response to being called an ‘ugly troll’ on the internet, she says, ‘To say I’m an overrated troll, when you have never seen me guard a bridge, is patently unfair.’ Conflict Resolution: Humility and Humor is now in session, and Ms. Fey is the tenured professor.”

Buy it >>

Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton

“This book has been within arm’s reach since I graduated college. It’s a wellspring of inspiration and information on all things type: captions, fonts, hand lettering, ornaments, you name it.”

Buy it >>


Sue | Business Manager
Seuss-isms: Wise and Witty Prescriptions for Living from the Good Doctor by Dr. Seuss

“On facing adversity:

‘I learned there are troubles
Of more than one kind
Some come from ahead
And some from behind.

But I’ve brought a big bat
I’m all ready you see
Now my troubles are going
To have troubles with me.’

My approach to life exactly: carry a big bat and come out swinging.”

Buy it >>

Now that you’ve added these reads to your Kindle wish list, it’s time to get to know us a little better in our natural element. Leaf through the rest of our website to learn more about our services and get in touch with us for marketing and advertising strategies that strengthen your bottom line.


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