Thoughts on branding, design, writing and life by Kevin Potts. Established 2003.

2007 Reading List Recap

I hope everyone had a good 2007. Mine was fairly low-key, but I did manage to read several excellent books of various genres. My top picks of the year: Microformats and The World Without Us.

Happy new year. I hope your holiday was as uneventful, unsurprising, and as moderately pleasant as mine.

Not being much for holidays or recounting the events of the year past, I have always shied away from producing grand-standing retrospectives and chest-thumping lists of accomplishments. But, feeling unusually mellow, and having a few moments of peace, I wanted to recount some of the great books I read over the past year. Almost everything I read was really good, and a day did not go by that at least two books were on my nightstand.

Web Design Books

  1. Advertising Design and Typography
    Excellent study on the effects of typography in advertising, packed with hundreds of examples.
  2. Information Architecture for the World Wide Web: Designing Large-Scale Web Sites
    An excellent tome on creating navigation systems and intelligent architecture for large amounts of information.
  3. Microformats: Empowering Your Markup for Web 2.0
    Really good ideas in here, and the first truly innovative (as in new ideas) books on HTML that I have read in years.
  4. Search Engine Optimization: An Hour a Day
    Strong overview of SEO basics, but packed with tips on the finer nuance of the craft.
  5. Textpattern Solutions
    I finally sat down and read this all the way through, beginning to end, even the parts that were over my head (darn you, Rob). It’s a really good book, and I swear I’m not just saying that.
  6. Web Accessibility
    A compendium of wisdom. Found the chapter on accessiblity law and accessible PDFs particularly useful.
  7. Web Standards Creativity
    A mixed bag, but some nice ideas. The design of the book is rancorous, but the strong and varied ideas still make it worth a read.


  1. Armageddon’s Children and The Elves of Cintra
    Two excellent fantasy / science fiction novels from Terry Brooks, who is almost always a good read.
  2. Eragon and Eldest
    While not the masterworks of fantasy that many claim them to be, they are truly good stories written by someone with a passion for the genre. The second is better than the first in all respects, and I am looking forward to the third and final installment.
  3. Galapagos
    My first and last Kurt Vonnegut book unless someone can convince me otherwise.
  4. The Dark is Rising Sequence
    I read all five books in a row, although they do not necessarily require it to understand the stories. The Dark is Rising, the second book, remains the best IMO.
  5. The Phantom Tollbooth
    A childhood classic that changed my life. First time reading it in 15 years, and it was even better this time around. Cannot wait until my children are old enough to appreciate it.
  6. The Picture of Dorian Gray
    Oscar Wilde is the undisputed master of the clever anecdote, many of which make no sense. This dark novel of corruption is as good as when I read it ten years ago.
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird
    Another classic book, this page-turner is so beautiful in its message and story that even after three reads, I find it as engaging as I did in high school.

Nerd Books

  1. Content Critical
    A large waste of time, unfortunately, and the absolute worst production values I have ever seen in a book.
  2. Eats, Shoots & Leaves
    Perhaps the most well-known rant on punctuation, this small book is not only comforting in its acidic delivery, but actually attempts to teach you something.
  3. Lapsing Into a Comma and The Elephants of Style
    These two books by Bill Walsh poke fun at the English language in a way that only a grizzled newspaper editor could do. Lots of fun, weird, funny things.
  4. The Wisdom of Crowds
    James Surowiecki’s book is exceptionally well written, but I still came away a bit empty-handed. It’s just the same point hammered over and over again.
  5. The World Without Us
    My book of the year. Alan Weisman’s fictional documentary of how the world would adjust to our abrupt disappearance is unbelievably engaging. Bottom line: people are a serious threat to their own existence.


  1. Skinny Bitch
    What appears to be a dieting book is actually 200 pages espousing the virtues of veganism. And I am OK with that.

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commentary + criticism

Joe Dolson

wrote the following on Sunday January 6, 2008

On Kurt Vonnegut -- all I can say is that I have read quite a lot of Vonnegut, and I like his writing most of the time.

I hated Galapagos. (As far as I actually got, at any rate. I didn’t consider it worth finishing.)

Try almost anything else, if you want to pursue it, but I’d suggest reading either Slaughterhouse-5 or Mother Night. Depends on what you like, of course -- these are essentially WWII era historical fiction to one degree or another.


wrote the following on Monday January 7, 2008

Joe — Thanks for the advice on Vonnegut. After reading Galapagos, I just could not understand what the big deal was. I will try Slaughterhouse-5; it seems to be the one everyone agrees on.

Meg Schultz

wrote the following on Friday January 25, 2008

Hey there— been meaning to read “The World Without Us” for sure! I recommend “The Freedom Manifesto”!

I have a little, new blog. Real Simple magazine contacted me this week about the folk art artifact featured on it. It might show up in an upcoming issue…. my “15 minutes” are about due…

take care,