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Esra Lemmen’s eight favorite books

11 Jun. 2020

If someone asked me the definition of fulfillment, I would liken it to reading a good book. Reading does to the mind and soul what a nourishing diet does to the body.



Esra Lemmens is a Design Strategist at her namesake, The Esra Lemmens Agency and focuses on empowering contemporary designers across the globe accomplishing clear business objectives.


The process of reading is similar to that of falling in love. You cannot trick yourself into feeling it, you cannot set goals, limits, and boundaries, and you cannot rush through it. For most of us, reading is essential to living, and thus we do it with thoroughness and devotion. If you would ask me to sum up my favorite reads, here is how I would summarize them, in no particular order.

1. Notes on Design, KeesDorst

Since I have read the essays in this book, I have truly been able to look at the design and its intricacies with a bird’s eye perspective. Wonderfully written, these essays make the design not only encouraging but also enjoyable for students and designers pursuing this field of passion.

Why This Is a Good Book
The essays provoke designers, the character that makes up design, and the overall integral part that design plays in the context of today’s society and businesses by posing fundamental questions.


2. Wired to Create, Scott Barry Kaufman

If one would ask ordinary people like us to break down creativity, we would never be able to do justice to it. However, psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman combines his groundbreaking research with Carolyn Gregoire’s famous article from the Huffington Post. This book is your best chance of truly seeing a little what the ‘messy minds’ of highly creative people look like.

Why This Is a Good Book
This book draws attention to the habits and practices of minds that think creatively. It reveals the latest discoveries in psychology and neuroscience, making it utterly captivating with examples of innovators and artists from history.
This book is an enrichment for our lives with insights from the lives of the most creative people in all of history, including Frida Kahlo, Michael Jackson, Josephine Baker, Pablo Picasso, David Foster Wallace, Marcel Proust, Thomas Edison, and several creative luminaries.


3. Design as an Attitude, Alice Rawsthorn

We are living in an age where the essential aspects of our lives are undergoing massive changes constantly. Design is the one powerful element that helps gain the most from the opportunities by those changes.
Design has to evolve with the intense political, ecological, and economic instability keeping creativity and resourcefulness intact consistently.

Why This Is a Good Book
Alice Rawsthorn, a leading commentator in culture and design, demystifies design, its dynamic developments, and its impact on our lives in her enjoyable and authoritative narrative.


4. Creativity Inc. Ed Catmull

If you have ever dreamt of direct access to Pixar Animation, this book is your ticket to a trip into the animation’s nerve center. The book shows you creativity at its best and flawless expression of ideas that bring out the best in each one of us.

Why this book is a Good Read
We all know Pixar for its domination in the animation world, from films such as Monsters, Toy Story trilogy, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, and several others. With thirty academy awards and box- office records to the brand’s name, Pixar movies are the true face of genius creativity. Catmull tells us at length in this book what techniques and ideals make Pixar so profitable and globally admired. The unique environment that Catmull and his colleagues created at Pixar is the true ingredient of success in this movie and the 13 others that followed. The said environment features leadership and philosophies of management that protect the creative process while defying convention.


5. The Artists Way, Julia Cameron

The Artists Way is a recognizable force in the field of creativity. This book is even more impactful a decade later since its birth for what it inspires in us today. Julia Cameron’s reflection on her incredible work and what she contributed to creativity is gainful for all who read it.

Why This Is a Good Book

Creative people like Julia Cameron are a beacon for all those who want to make a mark in the world of creativity. Her journey and her story is a guiding light for all those who seek deep insights into the process of creativity.


6.     Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert

Avid readers with creative souls seek inspiration from Elizabeth Gilbert. She is the embodiment of unique perspective and generative processes, radiant generosity, and profound empathy.

Why This Is a Good Book

In this book, she inspires us about the potent nature of creativity and generative process it requires. She teaches us how to have the correct approach, attitudes, and habits to achieve the pinnacle of creativity in our lives.


7.     Understanding Design, KeesDorst

This book is a powerful stimulant for aspiring designers to reflect on their work, how they should do, and the effect of it all.

Why This Is a Good Book

The book provides abundant inspiration and insight relating to design. It poses fundamental questions for designers to reflect on the importance of their work in design and their overall practices in the field.


8.     The Design of Everyday Things, Donald A. Norman

This book is a great attempt at simplifying the intricacies of design. It teaches us that design is essentially not complicated but needs to be more human-centered and usable as much as aesthetic.

Why This Is a Good Book

This book is a revelation in how we can make design usable. It teaches us valuable rules of the craft: things should be visible, unify control and function in a natural relationship and use constraints intelligently.

The book beautifully attains its goal in teaching its readers how to take the right action effortlessly at the right time with the right level of control.



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