The top 10 recommended books that we read and enjoyed in 2021
There's nothing like sitting down with a good book, especially if it can reignite your creative mojo in the process. So at Creative Boom, we're always keen to review the latest publications and share the best with you.
But we don't just stop at that. To add value, we also like to chat with the authors directly and get the full skinny on the thinking behind their creations.
Here, we've gathered together the ten best creative books from 2021 and shared the links for learning more about them. Ranging from retrospectives of famous designers to quirkier, oddball fare, you're sure to find plenty to inspire, educate and inform you here.
1. Inspirational graphic ephemera courtesy of Tat, a new book by Andy Altmann
Where there's muck, there's brass. And when there's that, there's a little creative inspiration. This book by Andy Altmann – co-founder of the former Why Not Associates – features all the tat he has collected over three decades, finding "inspiration in the ordinary and magic in the mundane", as he puts it.
2. Who Say Reload? The ace new book celebrating '90s drum and bass
Drum and bass was the last big musical movement of the 20th century, and its ripples are still spreading through modern-day culture. This book uncovers the lesser-known tales behind many of the iconic tunes that soundtracked urban England in the '90s and speaks directly to the artists involved.
3. A new book on Barbara Kruger celebrates five decades of her iconic, incisive work
Over the last five decades, American artist Barbara Kruger has been challenging the hierarchies of power and control in works that often combine visual and written language. 'Barbara Kruger: Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You' traces her forever evolving practice, revealing how she's adapted her work to suit the moment, site and context.
4. Hideki Nakajima: Made in Japan – the leading graphic designer discusses his new book
During his career, Japanese graphic designer and art director of CUT magazine Hideki Nakajima has produced over 10,000 pieces of work. He's now whittled this down to just 700 pieces for a retrospective book, 'Hideki Nakajima: Made in Japan'.
5. Graphic Life: Pentagram partner Michael Gericke launches his first career monograph
One of the most influential designers today, Michael Gericke, has been a partner at Pentagram for more than 35 years. Graphic Life, a 520-page monograph of his work, shows that his enthusiasm for his craft has no sign of waning.
6. Anita Mangan's latest book is a 'seriously silly guide' to the Chinese zodiac
Chinese horoscopes are increasingly popular, but how much do you really know about them? In graphic designer and illustrator Anita Mangan's book, 'The Chinese Zodiac: A Seriously Silly Guide', you'll discover more about your own astrological animal whilst enjoying her quirky and colourful artwork.
7. 'Everything in space probably wants to eat you': Claire Scully explores galactic threats in Outer Wilderness
Are we right to fear space aliens? The third book in the Wilderness series by illustrator Claire Scully sees Claire illustrate unusual creatures and deadly vegetation in a suitably lurid and technicolour style that harks back to pulp sci-fi novels and B movies. The book features a whole host of harmful alien threats, but when they look as good as this, we don't mind.
8. The Bootleg Bible is a delicious dive into bootleg toymaking around the world
It's easy to find Avengers toys. But with other less well-known characters, it's trickier. That's why there are bootleg characters crafted by indie toymakers globally, celebrating cultural icons that didn't make the cut. The Bootleg Bible reveals more about this fascinating sub-cultural movement.
9. Black Ivy: A Revolt in Style reveals how clothing can be the catalyst to positive change
Can clothes change the world? Sometimes. This book by Jason Jules and Graham Marsh charts a time in American history when black men adopted the clothing of the privileged elite and made it their own. It's a fascinating story about a generation of people challenging the status quo.
10. Tim Easley finds a new side of The Moon in his book of lunar photographs
Illustrator, designer and photographer Tim Easley has channelled his fascination with The Moon into a beautifully designed book of photos and facts about the celestial body. He hopes readers will feel the same awe and wonder he felt for the Moon while putting the book together. A beautiful tribute to Earth's only natural satellite.