Kalexiko Inspiration: 25 Books

Show me a family of readers, and I will show you the people who move the world. Napoleon Bonaparte


Find yourself drawing a blank page?


When we are asked where do we get out inspiration from, we are often met with surprised looks when we say ‘good books’.


Here at Kalexiko HQ, we believe there is nothing better than spending our personal down-time with our heads in a good book- when we get down time that is…


From the books we read we draw all kinds of inspiration, whether it be books on design, novels, photographic mementos; between the pages there is another world waiting to be explored and created.


With this in mind we thought we would share with you  few of the books that inspire us, have helped us with our work and just help us to pass the time. Just in case any of our suggestions have enticed you a little bit, we have also included links to where you can buy a copy yourself.



The Fundamentals of Creative Design

This book has provided me with inspiration that I apply to my thinking at Kalexiko, this blog post for example was based on inspiration I drew from this book. This book doesn’t just give you the the aesthetics qualities of website design, it also looks at the science behind the art of design and typography- which is really interesting as well as useful when thinking of new concepts for clients.


The Design of Sites 2nd Ed.

The layout of this book is really nice. For example each module is broken down with the headings; background, problem, solution and other patterns to consider. I find this layout useful when planning complex eCommerce websites and writing for search engines. The clarity between sections allows you to search through the book for inspiration without convoluting your own mind.


Smashing Magazine No. 2

Great book that focuses on design, UX and development. The book also has a great chapter on the psychology of web design and user behaviour which helps when trying to think deeper into a project and taking an outside-the-box approach to planning website designs. I also loved how the book explained how my decisions are supposedly made unconsciously. The book also contains many examples of great work; using screenshots, illustrations and code snippets. I have also bought the latest version; Smashing Magazine Book 3, but without doubt prefer the second edition.


Robert Greene- 48 Laws of Power

Has to be one of the all time classics. Each law comes with a brilliant historic example. My favourite law has to be number 5; So much depends on reputation – guard it with your life. However, law 35 (Master the art of timing) is something I’m still working on.


Spartan Warrior Workout

Kettlebells have been around a long time but are now slowly becoming more popular. This book highlights great techniques and teaches how to make the muscles work together as a unit to improve full body strength. Perfect for learning mental discipline behind working on physical strength; one to apply in everyday life.



Offscreen 1,2 and 3

Offscreen magazine is an industry focused for creative professionals. They have regular features from industry experts, with awesome use of imagery. The Offscreen editors also allow professionals to submit articles, which offers really insightful views into the lives of industry professionals in a variety of creative areas- an amazing collection and a must for any designer.


Muhammad Ali: Life In Pictures

An amazing collection of pictures and captions portraying the life and times of ‘The Greatest’. This book expresses Ali at his reign and at his most human. Definitely an inspiration for all those that find the road to success has its sinking lows as well as its lofty heights- a must for all dusty bookshelf.


Game of Thrones

Everyone with a TV must have been bitten by the Game of Thrones bug. Strangely though, not everyone knows that the awesome epic originally started as a book series. I haven’t gotten very far into this as of yet but it is as compelling as the TV series.


Steve Jobs Autobiography Audiobook

This one adds a bit of a spin on things, being an audiobook. Walter Isaacson’s account on the genius of Steve Jobs is just incredible. The book is amazingly read and through this offers a different approach than the book did. I came across this as fairly new to the story of Mr Jobs, but after this I can say he is one of my new heroes.


Sun Tzu- The Art of War

The Art of War still serves as inspiration today, 2000 years after it was written. I hold this with almost Biblical status, it’s profundity and inspirational perspective has offered me guidance in all manners of my life; from everyday tribulations to client meetings, you will find the inspiration you need between its pages.



A Smile in the Mind: Witty thinking in Graphic Design

The best graphic design does more than capture attention and make the audience linger. It prolongs the encounter, compelling the reader not only to notice, but to remember. This book is about making graphics memorable by using witty thinking. It argues that ideas which happen in the mind, stay in the mind. Gathering together the best examples of graphic wit over the past three decades, A Smile in the Mind shows work from over 300 designers in the USA, Britain, Europe and Japan with examples from every category; from direct mail to information graphics, and for a variety of sectors from leisure and the arts to manufacturing and the law.


Grid Systems in Graphic Design

A guidebook from the profession for the profession. The development of organisational systems in visual communication was the service and the accomplishment of the representatives of simple and functional typography and graphic design. The book gives a detailed insight into the use if grid-system in design; spanning from Europe in the 1920’s, through the 60’s and up until modern day. The author, a world-renowned professional, thus offers his colleagues the tools to solve problems easily.


Helvetica: Homage to a typeface

Helvetica is a sans-serif typeface. It is simple and clean, and commonly seen in advertising, signage, and literature. It is one of the most popular typefaces of all time. Helvetica: Homage to a Typeface presents 400 examples of Helvetica in action, selected from two diametrically opposed worlds. Superb applications by renowned designers are juxtaposed with an anonymous collection of ugly, ingenious, charming, and hair-raising samples of its use.


The Art of Looking Sideways

Describing himself as a “visual jackdaw”, master designer Alan Fletcher has spent a lifetime collecting images, useless information, quotations and scraps that take his fancy. This work distills this collection into a quirky and entertaining feast for the eyes and the mind. Loosely arranged in 72 “chapters”, the book explores the workings of the eye, the hand and the brain.



Badges, buttons and pins have been around for over a century. Today they’re everywhere: on lapels and bags all over the world and in the sketchbooks and on the screens of some of the hottest graphic designers, artists and illustrators. A badge can be a cheap and easy way to display political or cultural affiliations or it can simply be a fashion accessory. A guide to the best and most beautiful badges being produced right now; be they graphical, textual or plainly illustrative this book explores the rich variety of uses of the badge since the year 2000.



Code happy

This book offers a detailed and complete overview of Laravel’s framework and its features. For anyone wanting to progress beyond the basics of Laravel, then this is a must read. For anyone who is unfamiliar with Laravel, I wouldn’t recommend this as a place to begin as it does tackle some more complicated areas, but once you progress past the basics this needs to be on your bookshelf.


Laravel Starter

This book provides you with a very interesting run-down on Laravel. Though it is quite basic in terms of its php level it is still a good introduction for anyone wanting to pick up the basics of Laravel, so in that sense I would recommend it for beginners.


Web API Design

This ones more of a long tutorial rather than a book, so to speak. Though it only weighs in at around 50 pages, it is very well written. It describes the best practices and methodology behind creating an industry standard API. I read this as a preparation measure when doing the Pressvine rewrite and it served me very well.


Terry Pratchet- The Colour of Magic

The first book in the famous Discworld series. While it doesn’t give definitive web design advice, or the industries secret tricks for success, it’s entertaining, witty and quirky. It plays spoof on many fantasy cliches and was the start of a massively popular and enjoyable series. Perfect for escaping from the oh-so-serious world of web design from time-to-time.


Richard L. Sanders- The Phoenix Conspiracy

I have only just started reading this book; therefore I haven’t too much to say at the present time, other than the first chapter was extremely gripping. If you a fan of sci-fi espionage with a few cloak and dagger plot twists, then I already recommend this to you.



jQuery Novice to Ninja

This was the first Sitepoint book that I read and at the time I had my knowledge of jQuery was minimal. Through reading this book my knowledge and understanding of jQuery has developed. Subsequently this book has helped me to developed as a web developer. I would recommend this book to anyone who would needs a good starting point in web developing.


jQuery Novice to Ninja 2nd Ed.

The second edition followed in the same premise as the first and delivered just as well. As well as containing more up-to-date and improved tips and tricks than the first edition, I also learnt more about jQuery UI and jQuery Mobile through this edition. Again I would recommend this book for anyone who has progressed past the level of the first book and wants to get to grips a little more with jQuery.


How to be a graphic designer without losing your soul

Well, it’s all in the title with this one. This book really helped me to understand the world of graphic design by going it alone. The tips and tricks it offered me really helped me to improve as a designer whilst fortifying my skills practically and creatively. This book serves as a pseudo-career guide for fledgling designers and offers solid, experience-tested guidance.


Abduzeedo Inspiration Guide For Designers

Another great book to help you to develop as a web designer. This book is a little more digestible than the other two. It offers neat little tutorials with great examples to guide you through. It is a great book to draw inspiration from when you hit the dreaded design-blank.



Threadless.com are a massively cool t-shirt company that have secured a phenomenal following since it began in 2000. This book showcases some of the best t-shirt designs throughout the decade of Threadless. Like the Abduzeebo book, I like to flick through this to get some design inspiration. More than just a book of cool images though, it demonstrates the success of a truly innovative company.



Dylan Thomas- Collected Poems 1934-53

Dylan Thomas is one of the most original, meticulous and impactful poets of the twentieth century. This collection offers almost all of the poet’s works up until his untimely death. His use of unique word-play, sporadic yet exquisite form and impeccable vocabulary has made him an inspiration to me. In terms of his inspiration on my writing of copy, his use of rhythm is brilliant and he always seems to land a heavy impact on the reader, when I hit writer’s block all I need to do is take out my battered copy from my bag and refresh my brain and I’m good to go again.


Ezra Pound- The ABC of Reading

‘Literature is news that always stays news’…Ezra Pound’s ABC of Reading is an interesting little book. Once you learn to take in his bombastic tutorial prompts and bold claims you can elicit some useful information from this little book. Pound stresses on the need for brevity and direct treatment of a topic, with no superfluous embellishments; perfect advice for when you are trying to craft slicing and exact copy for a company.


David Bly- The Copywriters Handbook 2nd Ed.

Well, if it’s good enough for advertising guru David Ogilvy, then it’s certainly good enough for me. This is a bible for any copywriter. Admittedly it is a little dated now, and it doesn’t take into account the way the digital world has remoulded the art of writing copy, but it’s still a solid pillar for any copywriter trying to build his/her ability.


Hans Richter- DaDa: art and anti-art

This informative and information rich book offers an insight into the art movement that ‘destroyed all art’ by one who was there themselves. Richter describes the movement of dadaism with superb recollection and compelling language. What really makes this book perfect is the collection of photographs and artwork capturing some of the most iconic and revolutionary designs in the Dada archives. An absolute must for anyone interested in design.


Allen Ginsberg- Collected Poems

Mr Ginsberg is the definitive beatnik, activist, poet, buddhist ponderer, pacifist icon of the twentieth century. Not many people know that he was also a ‘copy boy’ before his ‘Howl’ to fame. Controversial, personal and often in times funny, this collected works is a must for anyone looking to broaden their horizons when it comes to reading.