11 Great Books to Help Creatives Unwind

As one of those people perpetually on the hunt for great books, I often find myself need of some serious literary TLC.

If you’re like me, this has been a pretty high-maintenance time recently, so I’m looking forward to relaxing with some good books full of inspiration and eye candy.

I usually mine MyDesignShop looking for design tutorials and other informational resources, but this time I dove in looking for something a little more fun. To my unparalleled delight, I found a wealth of new books that I plan on devouring when I’m unwinding. From silly-but-serious Manvotionals to a collection of greeting cards that I can just tear out and send, I’m officially set for both my own reading pleasure, AND I loaded up on holiday gift books for my creative friends.

Take a peek at what I found and pick out one (or more) of these great books for a visually appealing and utterly inspiring read—but be warned: this roundup contains Graphic Content and may inspire Creative Anarchy.

11 Great Books to Help You Unwind

Cool Beer Labels

by Daniel Bellon and Steven Speeg

Whether you drink beer or not, the recent growth of the craft brewing industry and its popularity is undeniable. What better way is there to celebrate the increase of breweries than to admire one of the aspects that makes these beers great: their label design? Featuring well-designed labels from craft and small breweries from around the world, Cool Beer Labels demonstrates how commercialized packaging design can be elevated to a whole new level. Not only will you get a chance to peruse these label designs, but you’ll also find interviews with those involved in their design process, like the owner, master brewer, or designer of the packaging. Get a taste of quality packaging design, and great beer, and delve into an exploration of fun design and a celebration of the craft brew culture. Get it here.


Watch a video about Cool Beer Labels below:


By Brian Singer

“As I sit in wonderment at how amazing life is, it strikes me that these kinds of stories, the ones we share over drinks or at dinner parties, are often the most meaningful.”

—Brian Singer

Graphic Content by Brian Singer is a collection of true stories from a variety of creative contributors. Rather than promoting ideas like career advice for young designers, this book takes a turn in a completely different direction. It’s filled with stories taken from real life experiences of over 50 creative people, and these stories are meant to provoke amazement, surprise, entertainment, and beyond. Read about a first encounter with Mick Jagger, a failed design approach, a slightly embarrassing acceptance of a silver medal, and much more. Each story is sure to evoke a different emotional response, but all are honest stories from real people meant to be shared with you.


Here’s what Singer had to say about the inspiration for the book in an interview with PrintMag.com:

It’s clear there are some underlying themes in what I find interesting / choose to pursue. The inspiration for Graphic Content though, I credit to a conference called Creative Summit, held annually in San Marcos, Texas… Two years ago, after the conference, a bunch of us were drinking whiskey on the porch of the hotel. Eric Baker began telling a story, and inspiration struck. He was captivating (more so than he had been when giving his talk, and that’s saying a lot since he rocked the stage). I watched as the group hung on his every word, gasped, sighed, and in the end, collectively, we were in awe… I began to think about how to relive that experience, with other creatives. In a perfect situation, I would have been able to travel the world and had cocktails with everyone, experiencing their stories first hand, but capturing them in a book seemed more realistic.

9781440338779_300dpiOMG! I Forgot the Card!

Have you ever waited until the last minute to buy a card, or realized you completely forgot to buy one altogether? Or maybe, just maybe, you absolutely can’t stand the monumental time-suck of standing in the greeting card isle looking for the perfect card. Avoid all of these issues with this convenient book of ready-to-fold-and-mail greeting cards. This collection of amusing greeting cards contains messages that are sometimes sweet, sometimes snarky, but always hilarious, so you’re sure to find something for everyone. Included are holiday cards, birthday cards, get well cards and much more, so you’ll be prepared for any occasion without having to risk losing your sense of humor by making a trip to the grocery store. Get it here.

Want a look inside? Watch a video about OMG! I Forgot the Card!:


Here’s a sample card from the book:


cardback5 You can find more sample cards from the book at PrintMag.com.

Toy Confidential: The Secret Life of Snarky Toys

Toy Confidential is for pop-culture buffs of all ages, but particularly those who grew up in the 80s. The author has a growing profile online and is attracting attention from art galleries, magazines and online stores like Threadless and inPRNT, which are selling Toy Stories shirts and posters. Get it here.


In Toy Confidential, you’ll find conceited unicorns and dinosaurs, ponies that looked bigger on eBay, Lassie negotiating for a bigger bed, a sad piñata, and a showcase of over 100 more original images of plastic toys interacting in unusual ways. PLUS! The pages are perforated so the images can be torn out and displayed or shared with friends and frenemies.


By Maria Fabrizio

Discover the road to productivity and success by keeping your creative juices flowing daily. Cultivating Creativity by illustrator Maria Fabrizio adheres to the idea that creativity requires ample momentum—if you stop, you’ll stall. In order to get the creative inspiration you need to do your design work well, it’s important to establish daily creative routines. Create every day, and you’ll be able to keep creating every day – it’s as simple as that. Lean on this helpful companion and guide to creative inspiration and you’ll be able to take your creativity, and design work, to new heights. Get it here.


Paper Wonderland: 32 Terribly Cute Paper Toys Ready to Cut, Fold & Build

By Michelle Romo

Paper Wonderland is a collection of paper toy templates – ready to be cut out, built and played with or displayed. It includes 32 templates for terribly cute paper toys, detailed step-by-step instructions for each one, and brilliant color patterns and illustrations. So sweet they make your teeth hurt, Michelle Romo’s cute style can be summed up as Japanese-influenced cuteness with mid-century modern flair. Her characters can be brought into 3D life with only an X-acto knife and some glue. Besides people and animals, the collection also includes an adorable house, a sweetly spooky ghost and mustaches that can be assembled and worn.

Z4827Want to peek inside? Here’s an adorable little house you can create:Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 3.16.00 PM

Smiley paper houses too cutesy for you? Here’s something with a little more testosterone:

Art of Manliness Collection

By Brett and Kate McKay


This limited-edition collection contains a wealth of information and inspiration for the modern man. Included inside are the following books:

The Art of Manliness. This book is dedicated to helping men uncover what manliness means in the 21st century, from rediscovering the outdoors to dressing with panache to becoming a good father.

The Art of Manliness: Manvotionals. This book contains the manliest wisdom of the ages—a myriad of poems, quotes, and essays designed to inspire men to live life to the fullest and realize their complete potential as men.

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Together, housed in a classic cigar box, these two books make the perfect gift for any man (or soon-to-be man) who is conscious of leaving his mark on this world. Get the collection here.


By Denise Bosler

“The ability to push boundaries is a respected quality. It shows you are willing to go beyond the expected by demonstrating that you will invest time and creative strategy in a design concept. Boundary pushing proves that you are a thinker and a doer, not a follow-the-leader-er.”

— Denise Bosler

u7725Among the many regulations of design you often hear are, “follow the rules and color within the lines,” and “only use two fonts on a page and don’t make your logo too complicated.” If you’re tired of hearing the same old restrictions, you’ll love the creative freedom offered by Creative Anarchy by Denise Bosler. Though there are surely rules of good design, it is more important just to know when to follow them and when they can be broken.

Gather tips for throwing design caution to the wind, while also maintaining effective communication so your message is heard, and utilize creative exercises to help you push your work to the next level. Learn how to be strategic when using (or choosing not to use) the rules of graphic design to create stimulating original designs. In addition to design inspiration, you’ll also discover sections specifically devoted to helping you design posters, logos, websites, advertising, publications and more. Get it here.

Here are some out-of-the-box album covers from the book:

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 3.40.31 PM

By David Gouveia and Christopher Elkerton

What is Creative Stuff?

  • Creative Stuff is inspiring and colorful.
  • Creative Stuff can be messy, witty and wonderful.
  • Creative Stuff is a tool that brings humor and fun to the creative process.
  • Creative Stuff is full of puzzles, games, activities and thought-starters.
  • Creative Stuff is a workbook for visual creatives, and you’re holding it right now.

Exercise your imagination through interactive games and challenges, sharpen your brainpower with puzzles and brain teasers, and find inspiration when you need it most! This workbook will jumpstart creativity and brainstorming for visual thinkers—you know who you are! Every page will stimulate the senses and get those creative juices flowing fast and furious. Get it here.


Here’s a peek at some of the fun exercises inside:

stuff_3 stuff_2


Fingerprint No. 2: The Evolution of Handmade Elements in Graphic Design – eBook

By Chen Design Associates

In the first edition of Fingerprint, we celebrated the all-too-rare presence of the human hand in visual communitcation. It was 2006, and the design community, by our judgment, was overrun with slick, emotionless layouts, many of which were the result of the profession’s unabashed embrace of computer technology. Handmade, we suggested, could provide a breath of fresh air.

Now, Fingerprint No. 2 reflects the evolution of those ideas. In this second volume you’ll still find plenty of boutique projects, as well as those created entirely without the aide of computer technology. But you’ll also discover how designers are beginning to incorporate the two aethetics – handmade and digital – in order to best communicate their message. Get it here.


Want to see more before you buy? Take a look at a few images you’ll find inside:

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 6.05.57 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 6.06.26 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 6.06.41 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 6.07.04 PM

Interested in finding more great books to help your mind detach from reality? Find more books at MyDesignShop.com.