Fritz Kahn, by Uta and Thilo Von Debschitz

As one of the grandfathers of modern data visualization, German doctor and artist Fritz Kahn turned dry scientific facts into educational eye candy. Edited by sibling scholars Uta and Thilo Von Debschitz, Taschen’s hefty monograph of his work features fantastical scenes of winged fish, insect-size parachutists, and blood cells used as boats, all illustrating statistics about the human body. Kahn was an infographics pioneer before “infographics” was even a word. Fritz Kahn is available for purchase here.

The Best American Infographics of 2013, edited by Gareth Cook

More than a century after Fritz Kahn was born, infographics have become an integral part of modern-day digital vernacular, distilling the daily barrage of information into digestible and often beautiful visualizations. Editor Gareth Cook presents 2013’s most creative infographics in an addictive full-color volume, with an introduction by everyone’s favorite Talking Head, David Byrne. You can buy the book here.

Logo for London, by David Lawrence

Logo For London tracks the surprisingly rich history of the London Underground Roundel. Over the last century, the logo, a simple dark blue bar placed across two red-rimmed semi-circles, has become the world’s best-known transportation symbol. “It’s entrancing in its simplicity and power," says author David Lawrence. Lavish illustrations visualize its cultural, social, and artistic importance. You can purchase Logo for London, published by Laurence King, here.

100 Illustrators, edited by Steven Heller and Julius Wiedemenn

Taschen’s colorful two-volume collection, 100 Illustrators, presents full profiles and portfolio selections of the most creative and prolific talents working in illustration today. From the biting caricatures of Andre Carrilho to Gez Fry’s comic superheroes to science illustrations from Time and National Geographic, a broad range of genres means there’s something here for everyone. The book is available for purchase here.

Proud Too Be Weirrd, by Ralph Steadman

Jonny Depp once said of artist Ralph Steadman, the longtime creative partner of Hunter S. Thompson, "Ralph is ... so nice. And yet, at the same time, he is … a psychopath." Steadman said it himself in an interview with Co.Design: "I am just NORMALLY WEIRRD!" Ammo’s 448-page monograph offers a manic tour through Steadman’s ink-splattered studio. Read more here, or purchase Proud Too Be Weirrd here.

Critiqued: Inside The Minds Of 23 Leaders In Design, by Christina Beard

Graphic designer and writer Christina Beard conducted an iterative design experiment not unlike the children’s game of telephone. She started with a poster with a basic message: "Wash Your Hands!" And then bravely met with 25 leaders in design--from Paula Scher to Stefan Sagmeister to Ellen Lupton--and asked them to critique her work, revising the poster based on each meeting. Featured are in-depth interviews with 25 rockstar designers, in which they describe their creative processes. You can read more here and buy Critiqued, published by Peachpit Press, here.

The Art of Rube Goldberg, by Jennifer George

Many people don’t know much about the actual man behind the adjective “Rube Goldberg,” used to describe an unnecessarily convoluted process. The Art of Rube Goldberg written by Jennifer George, Goldberg’s granddaughter, features 192 pages of cartoons and designs by the inventor-engineer-humorist-sculptor-artist-genius. His beloved main characters, Boob McNutt and Professor Lucifer Gorgonzola Butts, are constantly creating the kind of impossibly intricate chain reactions that Goldberg was famous for. “He would’ve been in Silicon Valley, doing something tech-y and geeky. He would’ve been in awe of Steve Jobs,” George told Co.Design. Published by Abrams, the book is available for purchase here.

I Wonder What It’s Like To Be Dyslexic, by Sam Barclay

British graphic designer Sam Barclay has struggled with dyslexia since he was a child--along with an estimated 10% to 15% of the population. In I Wonder What It’s Like To Be Dyslexic, he uses inventive typography to visualize for readers what it feels like to cope with this learning disability on a daily basis. It’s not as simple as seeing words backwards, which is a common misunderstanding--letters are turned into choppy fragments and words resemble jumbles of abstract shapes instead of clear units of meaning. The book’s production was successfully funded in a Kickstarter campaign. Pre-order the book (available January 17) here.

Go: A Kidd’s Guide To Graphic Design, by Chip Kidd

Don’t be fooled by the title: this in-depth primer by graphic design icon Chip Kidd is written for the young adult set, but curious minds of any age can learn from his direct and witty explanations of design fundamentals like typography, color, form, content, and concept. Kidd has designed more than 1,000 book covers, from Jurassic Park to Geek Love. A Kidd's Guide is published by Workman and available for purchase here.

The World We Made: Alex MacKay's Story From 2050, by Jonathan Porritt

In The World We Made, environmentalist (and knight) Sir Jonathan Porritt envisions what the world would look like in 2050 if we humans play our eco-friendly cards right. With hyper-realistic photo manipulations, he envisions mandatory water-efficient homes, electric planes, and a banning of gas-guzzling cars. All of the futuristic technology he writes about is either currently in development or likely to be in development soon, he says. Instead of using scare tactics, like showing cities flooded after global warming, he presents a nearly Utopian vision of how smart and conscientious design could help create a sustainable future. The World We Made, published by Phaidon, is available for purchase here.


The 10 Best Design Books Of 2013

Infographics both retro and modern, futuristic transportation, and cartoons of Professor Lucifer Gorgonzola Butts are all featured inside these 10 gems of design books.

No matter how convenient Kindles are, they will never do justice to beautifully printed, full-color art and design books. (And reading them often doubles as a workout—the big ones require serious biceps to even lift.)

This year, art book publishing houses like Taschen, Phaidon, Ammo, and Laurence King delivered some memorable, important new publications, from a monograph of German infographics pioneer Fritz Kahn to a book that imagines an eco-friendly future made possible by conscientious design. Then there were some impressive independent publications, like Sam Barclay’s I Wonder What It’s Like To Be Dyslexic, in which artistic typography is used to visualize the experience of reading with a learning disability. Click the slide show above to see the 10 best design books of 2013.

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