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I would like to give (gift) a book to a friend which studied art for many years and is thinking about studying graphic design.

I know pretty much stuff about web design, having read books, articles and guides, I know that good web design books always explain a bit of graphic design too, but usually they're more specific to web stuff.

I'd like to give her a book which is more about graphic design in general (she likes illustration) informative, practical and inspiring.

Any suggestion?

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Check out Creative Workshop. Just FYI, this really isn't a question for SE :) –  dinesh Nov 29 '12 at 18:19
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The newest edition of Meggs' History of Graphic Design came out recently. It's great as far as a historical textbook goes.

This book addresses the question of how to be a designer.

All of Tufte's books are very informative but a bit dense and overly scholarly.

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