Tag Archives: the visual miscellaneium by david mccandless

required reading

Books have always held some sort of fascination with me, as if all the questions in the world could be answered in books. During elementary school when those monthly student book order forms came out, I always wanted at least a dozen books.  Luckily for me, my parents were usually happy to order me a book or two (certainly nowhere near what I wanted) and I think this is where my love for reading started to grow.  I even read 100 books during 4th grade in order to win a special prize from my teacher.

Admittedly once I entered high school and definitely in college, I read for fun much less.  As a student I have to read plenty of academic articles, studies and textbooks, but I don’t get a chance to read very many novels or anything just for fun.

As mentioned in other posts, I read about 1000-1200 RSS feeds each day.  Anytime I see a reputable blog post about a book I am interested in, I instantly add it to my Half.com wishlist.  Unfortunately, I add books much more frequently than I buy books, so I’ve got about 120 different items on my wishlist right now.  With Christmas coming up, I thought this could serve as a good “book gift guide”.  Books can give some of life’s greatest treasures – inspiration, knowledge, and personal growth – and definitely shouldn’t be overlooked.

The Visual Miscellaneum: A Colorful Guide to the World’s Most Consequential Trivia

I actually ran across this infographic filled book in Real Simple magazine’s gift guide.  Infographics make looking at data and statistics actually fun – and often make the realities of the conclusions much more apparent.  Definitely a book that will hold your attention cover to cover.


It might be easier to show a video clip as opposed to explaining why this should be on your gift-giving list.  Children and adults both can enjoy the detail in this:

Phaidon Design Classics

I’ve had a love affair with this three book set for quite some time now.  Each book details 333 industrially manufactured products, ranging from Chinese bonsai scissors from the 1600s to the present day.  Everyone, young and old, will bound to learn some interesting facts about items used in everyday life.

Candida Hofer Libraries

Strictly for images such as these:

Stunning.  Leave this one out for everyone to page through.

Simulacra and Simulation

Simulacra and Simulation is the brainiest of the bunch, but there’s a reason why it’s on the list.  The Matrix featured this work – Neo hid his illegal software in it and was even required reading for Keanu Reeves before shooting the movie.  I’d attempt to explain what the book discusses, but Wikipedia can do it much better than I can and in fewer words:

Simulacra and Simulation is most known for its discussion of images, signs, and how they relate to the present day. Baudrillard claims that modern society has replaced all reality and meaning with symbols and signs, and that the human experience is of a simulation of reality rather than reality itself. The simulacra that Baudrillard refers to are signs of culture and media that create the perceived reality; Baudrillard believed that society has become so reliant on simulacra that it has lost contact with the real world on which the simulacra are based.

Save this one for when you want to be challenged or give it to someone you want to impress with your intellect.

The Big Fat Duck Cookbook

This is the boss of cookbooks – 10 pounds with the box, four silk ribbons, over 500 pages and costing two Franklins and a Grant (that’s $250 in case you didn’t pick up on that one).  According to reviews on Amazon, this isn’t just a cooking book.  One reviewer said:

The Big Fat Duck Cookbook is itself a work of art, combing a luxurious package with striking page layouts and artwork. Its recipes are almost the least of its appeal: Blumenthal’s accompanying essays are the meat of the text and make for a fascinating 500 pages of reading.” – Metroland (Albany, NY)

This book would work just as well in a kitchen as it would on your coffee table.  However, a paired down version is available if you’re interested in just the recipes.


What could be more insightful than advice from 50 of the world’s great writers, actors, artists, designers, politicians, musicians and religious and business leaders of our time?  It’s like having 50 grandparents giving you advice, if your grandparents are Clint Eastwood, Nelson Mandela, Lou Reed, the Dalai Lama and Willie Nelson (let me guess, smoke more weed?).  A great concept and I’m sure the information inside is not to be missed either.

New Skateboard Graphics

I’ve always felt that the artwork done on skateboard decks was mostly forgotten or ignored.  Seeing all of Rob Dyrdek’s decks in his Fantasy Factory made me think of just how many skateboard decks have been made.  Luckily, this book covers some of the most innovative work from nearly 40 manufacturers.  Unfortunately – tracking down your favorite decks you discover in the book will be infinitely more difficult than just getting the book.

Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture

With low cost being the basis of most people’s buying decisions, from groceries to clothing to furniture, there have been numerous effects on the economy and culture.  As a firm believer in buying quality once as opposed to buying numerous disposable goods, this sounded particularly interesting and something that every consumer can relate to.