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Hyperquake’s Summer Reads for 2018

By Client Leadership Team

You know what they say: “Summer doesn’t start until Hyperquake releases their summer reading list.” Well, get those coolers and bathing suits ready, because it’s finally here — Hyperquake’s second annual Summer Reading List. We’ve got some good ones this year, folks; so before you head to the beach, the pool, or post up in your driveway, pick up one of these recommendations and learn something.

 

CREATIVITY & PSYCHOLOGY

The Laws of Simplicity, by John Maeda
Finally, we are learning that simplicity equals sanity. But sometimes we find ourselves caught up in the simplicity paradox: we want something that’s simple and easy to use, but also does all the complex things we might ever want it to do. In the Laws of Simplicity, John Maeda offers ten laws for balancing simplicity and complexity in business, technology, and design — guidelines for needing less and actually getting more.

Maeda — a professor in MIT’s Media Lab and a world-renowned graphic designer — explores the question of how we can redefine the notion of “improved” so that it doesn’t always mean something more, something added on.
recommended by Sheila Lewis, Creative Director

Herding Tigers, by Todd Henry
A practical handbook for every manager charged with leading teams to creative brilliance. Doing the work and leading the work are very different things. When you make the transition from maker to manager, you give ownership of projects to your team even though you could do them yourself better and faster. You’re juggling expectations from your manager, who wants consistent, predictable output from an inherently unpredictable creative process. And you’re managing the pushback from your team of brilliant, headstrong, and possibly overqualified creatives.

Discover how to create a stable culture that empowers your team to take bold creative risks. And learn how to fight to protect the time, energy, and resources they need to do their best work.

Full of stories and practical advice, Herding Tigers will give you the confidence and the skills to foster an environment where clients, management, and employees have a product they can be proud of and a process that works.
recommended by Sheila Lewis, Creative Director

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, by Steven Pressfield
I’ve been meaning to read this book for over a year now, and have not yet had the chance, but I promise it’s on my to-do list for 2018. A professor recommended this book to me after realizing that I was what you might call a “perfectionistic procrastinator.” I hated starting new work for the fear of reality not meeting my imagined expectation and throwing away every idea I thought was unworthy of presenting. Apparently, I’m not the only one, because Pressfield discusses how to get past your creative blocks and get over the mindset that perfection in the creative world exists.
recommended by Hannah Dickens, Design Intern

A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking
Because all the smart people are dying.
recommended by Adriane Borden, Senior Strategist

The Medium is the Message, by Marshall McLuhan
This book got me into design when I first read it in college.
recommended by Brian Simons, Senior Designer

Power of Now, by Patrick Lencioni
The book is intended to be a guide for day-to-day living and stresses the importance of living in the present moment and avoiding thoughts of the past or future. It has really helped me worry less and appreciate the all various kinds of moments we have in life.
recommended by Brittany Alvey, Senior Designer

Making and Breaking the Grid, by Timothy Samara
To the user experience designer in me, the grid represents consistency and simplicity. My formal education made it clear that if you want someone to follow certain steps in order to achieve a task, then you’d better make those steps as easy as possible. Nothing helps with this more than adhering to a grid, what the author accurately describes as a “visual filing cabinet.”

The starving artist in me sees the grid as an equivalent to the brig on the Flying Dutchman (what up Disney fans). Since I was a little dude, nothing has brought me more joy than doing the opposite of what I was told. However, as the saying goes, in order to break the rules, you must first understand the rules. Whichever side you take, this book will help you build your defense for how you choose to use this ancient tool. If you’re in (or planning to be in) any design discipline, this book needs to be on your shelf.
recommended by Dustin Blankenship, Senior Designer

Becoming Supernatural, by Dr. Joe Dispenza
I have a fascination with the human brain. It’s kind of like outer space, but instead of ever-expanding, its inner depths have no end. Who we are and how we came to be that way are questions that, to me, will never be answered in a satisfying way. An all-powerful organ perched atop our shoulders that the majority of us only use to simultaneously order food, comment on people’s opinions whom we’ve never met, and add songs to our queue. An electronic device far more powerful than the ones that we are beholden to residing in our pockets. What is it really capable of, and how do we harness it?

At the risk of sounding like Dwight Schrute, this book will open you up to the possibility of tuning into frequencies beyond our material world. This book discusses physically changing your brain chemistry to become more aware, access mystical realms of reality, enable profound healing, and actually move into a realm of infinite possibilities. Sure, you could just drink some mushroom tea, but that’s cheating. Suspend your disbelief and check it out. Who knows? Maybe you’ll learn to type by simply looking at the screen like I just did.

As a recommended prerequisite (if you need a little coaxing before you actually dive in), check out The Brainby David Eagleman. It’s an easy read.
recommended by Dustin Blankenship, Senior Designer

 

FICTION

Fishbowl, by Bradley Somer
This is a cute, light story about a goldfish named Ian, who’s falling from the 27th floor of the Seville on Roxy (I really do promise it’s cute). Throughout each chapter, you meet a variety of characters living in the building who are uniquely wound into one another’s lives, in the grandest or smallest ways. Bonus for design lovers: the edges of the pages double as a flip book. 🙂
recommended by Andria Mierzwiak, Designer

A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini
Born a generation apart and with very different ideas about love and family, Mariam and Laila are two women brought jarringly together by war, by loss and by fate. As they endure the ever-escalating dangers around them — in their home as well as in the streets of Kabul — they come to form a bond that makes them both sisters and mother-daughter to each other, and that will ultimately alter the course not just of their own lives but of the next generation. With heart-wrenching power and suspense, Hosseini shows how a woman’s love for her family can move her to shocking and heroic acts of self-sacrifice, and that in the end it is love, or even the memory of love, that is often the key to survival.
recommended by Allison Haglage, Vibe & Administrative Assistant

Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty
Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.
recommended by Allison Haglage, Vibe & Administrative Assistant

The Handmaids Tale, by Margaret Atwood
Mr. Mercedes, by Stephen King
recommended by Sam Tapia, Senior Project Leader

The Help, by Kathryn Stockett
The Help follows the lives of two maids and a recent college graduate in 1960s Mississippi. Skeeter, a pale 20-something with natural curls, becomes interested in “the help” at a friend’s after interviewing her for the newspaper. Together the three take on writing a book to expose how cruelly the maids are treated in southern homes. I read this years ago, before the film came out, and it is still one of my favorite books. I’d recommend it to anyone who has a desire to have a new lens on empathy and treating each other equally.
recommended by Hannah Dickens, Design Intern

Native Son, by Richard Wright
White Teeth, by Zadie Smith
recommended by Betsy Wecker, Senior Strategist

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
In a future where VR has taken over the lives of everyone, it’s up to a kid from Columbus, Ohio to save the world from the government, who interferes with the spirit of the virtual world, The Oasis.
recommended by Alex Arias, Design Intern

The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway
A very short story I read over the weekend…. Definitely recommend.
recommended by Brian Simons, Senior Designer

 

NONFICTION

The Residence, by Kate Andersen Brower
While White House political staffers change from administration to administration, certain White House employees have worked there, behind the scenes and away from the cameras, for decades. For her book The Residence, Kate Andersen Brower persuaded loyal staffers of the presidential residence to share stories of the landmark and of first families through the decades. See the presidency and the nation’s most famous home through the eyes of the ushers, florists, maids, chefs, and electricians who have tended to the needs of our first families since the mid-century, from the Kennedys to the Obamas. If you’re exhausted by hyper-partisan politics, consider this book a short vacation for your brain.
recommended by Emily Zalla, Senior Designer

This Is How, by Augusten Burroughs
Here’s my pitch: If you really, really hate self-help books, then this is the self-help book for you. It’s more a memoir than anything else, and Burroughs writes his way through a lifetime of insights that are alarming, irresponsible, or against all common knowledge. But they’re honest. And somewhere in this book, you’ll find something that rings much, much truer to you than anything you’ll find in a “real” self-help book. Read it. From the book jacket:

“If you’re fat and fail every diet, if you’re thin but can’t get thin enough, if you lose your job, if your child dies, if you are diagnosed with cancer, if you always end up with exactly the wrong kind of person, if you always end up alone, if you can’t get over the past, if your parents are insane and ruining your life, if you really and truly wish you were dead, if you feel like it’s your destiny to be a star, if you believe life has a grudge against you, if you don’t want to have sex with your spouse and don’t know why, if you feel so ashamed, if you’re lost in life, if you have ever wondered, How am I supposed to survive this?

This is How.”
recommended by Emily Zalla, Senior Designer

Alex and Me, by Irene Pepperberg
In September of 2007, Alex the African Grey died prematurely of a heart attack. Owner, trainer, friend, and caretaker Irene Pepperberg recounts her journey with Alex as he learned to identify shapes, colors, objects, and even to count. The scientific community finally accepted that there was more to a bird’s walnut-sized brain than they had previously thought. A funny and heartwarming tale of the unexpected bonds animals can have in our lives, and the tricks they play on us along the way.
recommended by Hannah Dickens, Design Intern

Principles, by Ray Dalio
recommended by Betsy Wecker, Senior Strategist

Meet Me in the Bathroom, by Lizzy Goodman
The transition from so-called “grunge” music in the mid-nineties produced one of the most perplexing music phenomena in history, Nu-metal. Bands like Limp Bizkit and Korn topped the charts, sold out arenas, and ruled the world. Maybe it was the untimely death of the ambivalent face of the grunge era. Maybe everyone, and I mean everyone, was freaking out about the looming millennium. In any case, rock and roll was in a hole seemingly too deep to escape.

Set the stage for the big city and the rebirth of rock. Determined to recover from the devastation of September 11, New York City was full of people ready to pick up the pieces and move forward with pride and fury. Bands like Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Interpol, LCD Soundsystem, The Strokes, and others who had been honing their craft in darkness were suddenly becoming reflections of a town that was being rebuilt and made anew. This is the story of a decade of New York City rock told by the people who were there, playing the music, pouring the drinks, and writing the stories.

If you’re like me and come from a rural town where “Master of Puppets” and “Cowboys From Hell” were the newest albums that people owned, then music in the early 2000s spawned an awakening, and this book is for you.
recommended by Dustin Blankenship, Senior Designer

The Sixth Extinction, by Elizabeth Kolbert
Kolbert takes us on a journey through her research of the planet with this book, giving us insight in to pre-human global changes as well as current human impact on global species. While there are many parts of this book that are deeply humbling, it weaves optimism and positivity within its pages.
recommended by Andria Mierzwiak, Designer

Untold: The Stories Behind the Photographs, by Steve McCurry
As one of the most renowned photojournalists, Steve McCurry (photographer of the iconic “the Afghan Girl”) has travelled the world shooting images of war, famine, poverty and more for National Geographic. In this book, he dives into the stories of each image by walking through the preparation stages, showing photographs of his documentation and travels, and providing “behind the shot” perspectives that we often miss as viewers.
recommended by Andria Mierzwiak, Designer

Dreamland, by Sam Quinones
An in-depth story at how the opioid crisis came about in America. From a small town in Mexico to the boardrooms of Big Pharma to main streets nationwide, an explosive and shocking account of addiction in the heartland of America. This book is fascinating, educational, and eye opening.
recommended by Brittany Alvey, Senior Designer

Food of the Gods, by Terence McKenna
Because altered states of consciousness.
recommended by Adriane Borden, Senior Strategist

Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bourdain
Because all the sadness.
recommended by Adriane Borden, Senior Strategist

Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari
Human history has been shaped by three major revolutions: the Cognitive Revolution (70,000 years ago), the Agricultural Revolution (10,000 years ago), and the Scientific Revolution (500 years ago). These revolutions have empowered humans to do something no other form of life has done, which is to create and connect around ideas that do not physically exist (think religion, capitalism, and politics). These shared “myths” have enabled humans to take over the globe and have put humankind on the verge of overcoming the forces of natural selection. (I haven’t read this one yet, but a few friends have recommended it to me and it is my next summer read!)
recommended by Brittany Alvey, Senior Designer

 

CHILDREN

Pinkalicious, by Victoria and Elizabeth Kaan
Pinkalicious eats so many pink cupcakes that she wakes up the next morning with pink skin and hair. The color just won’t wash off, and the doctor diagnoses her with Pinkititis and tells her to eat green food to get better. Still, when her parents aren’t looking, she sneaks just one more treat-and turns red. Hilarious and heart-warming! A great book for kids of all ages!
recommended by Allison Haglage, Vibe & Administrative Assistant

What Do You Do with an Idea?, by Kobi Yamada, Mae Besom
This is the story of one brilliant idea and the child who helps to bring it into the world. As the child’s confidence grows, so does the idea itself. And then, one day, something amazing happens. This is a story for anyone, at any age, who’s ever had an idea that seemed a little too big, too odd, too difficult. It’s a story to inspire you to welcome that idea, to give it some space to grow, and to see what happens next. Because your idea isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s just getting started.
recommended by Sheila Lewis, Creative Director

Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak
No need for much explanation and suited for all ages. This timeless story, made up of some of the most iconic illustrations in children’s literature, reminds us that imagination is a powerful thing and sometimes, we all need an escape.
recommended by Dustin Blankenship, Senior Designer

Go, Dog. Go!, by P.D. Eastman
A lesson to all that if you wear the right clothes and drive fast cars you’ll get invited to the party.
recommended by Dustin Blankenship, Senior Designer

Got any books you think we should read? Tweet ’em at us—we’re always ready to add to the Hyperquake library!

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