James Dyson: TOP TEN BOOKS


Forget form over function—the inventor James Dyson cares more about how things work than how they look. It was his experience with a wheelbarrow that got stuck in the mud that inspired his first revolutionary idea: replacing the wheel with a ball. But it was his genius concept of a bag-free vacuum cleaner that never lost its suction that turned him into a household name (and pitted him against Hoover over copyright infringement, a battle he won). Having learned to be focused and disciplined as a long-distance runner, his company has assiduously supported emerging designers while continuing to develop new ideas, such as Dyson’s bladeless fans and hand driers, to make our world more efficient and better-designed.

Below are James Dyson’s favorite books, available to purchase as a set or individually.


English Culture and the Decline of the Industrial Spirit, 1850-1980

Martin J. Wiener
It took an American academic to research and diagnose this British class snobbishness about the activity of manufacturing. Astonishingly, it is more acceptable for the educated classes to go into banking or insurance rather than dirty their hands making things.
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Olives: The Life and Lore of a Noble Fruit

Mort Rosenblum
Rosenblum is a fearless Associated Press reporter who loves olive trees. He then wrote a book on the global production of olive oil that I couldn’t put down. We arranged to meet when we discovered that we each lived and grew olive trees very close to each other in the Var in Provence. It’s not every day one gets to meet an author he admires.
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Stuff and Nonsense

Logie Bruce Lockhart
Nobody could have had a kinder and wiser headmaster than I. At the age of 92 he decided to write his fascinating autobiography. He was a young officer in the British army advancing into Germany at the end of the war. He boldly concludes that the Germans lack a sense of international fairness.
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The Greedy Bastard Diary: A Comic Tour of America

Eric Idle
An alternative autobiography by Monty Python’s most creative member, Eric Idle. An honest and close to the bone review of his life penned traveling on a tour bus, crisscrossing North America. The Greedy Bastard turns out to be warm hearted, loving and highly intelligent. Would that all writers had his hunger for knowledge and wit in parody.
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The Sketchbooks of Chris Wilkinson

Chris Wilkinson
Despite being at the forefront of high-tech innovation in architecture, Wilkinson still uses drawing as a way to think through ideas, to grapple with design problems, and as a tool for communication. Many of the drawings were done with a small set of watercolors (mixed with gin?) while traveling on airplanes.
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The Works: Anatomy of a City

Kate Ascher
A book which artfully unveils the hidden engineering that makes Manhattan tick – from where rubbish goes to how traffic lights are synched to avoid thousands of daily collisions.
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Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100

Michio Kaku
Kaku’s a physicist by trade and offers mind-bending predictions about scientific progress over the next 100 years, from internet accessible contact lenses to robots that display real emotions. An interesting look into how things like nanotechnology could change how we interact with the devices in our home, making them smarter, more efficient.
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Medici Effect: What Elephants and Epidemics Can Teach Us About Innovation

Frans Johansson
Breakthrough inventions hardly ever come from completely new ideas, but rather from the application of a concept from one field to another. The cyclonic vacuum cleaner was inspired by the way industrial cyclones spun dust and dirt out of the air. To be creative, Johansson argues you need to push the boundaries, ask questions, and not be afraid of failure. Something Dyson engineers understand.
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The Devil in the White City

Erik Larson
What better a time to set a mystery thriller than during the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair – the birthplace for so much American ingenuity. I love Chicago – Dyson’s US headquarters are based there – but I would have truly loved to see it then.
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The Story of Design

Charlotte and Peter Fiell
Design historians Charlotte and Peter take a journey through the earliest forms of design. Through dynamic illustrations, this history of design stretches over the centuries.
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