Don't just a book by its title, The Essential Principles of Graphic Design by Debbie Millman is more and than some. You might think that this book is one you would get for your introduction to design class but it goes to well beyond. The book does start out covering several key principles of design such as typography, color, layout and style but then leads into such important areas of design as research, visual strategy and account management. This is great information that will not be covered in you old intro class.
From this prelude, we get to the meat of the book, a section where design principles are discussed and examined within 32 disciplines. These disciplines include catalog design, packaging, environmental design, restaurant identity, museum exhibit design, personal blog design, magazine design, and poster design to name a few. The disciplines are explored by different designer and firms such as Armin Vit and Bryony Gomez-Palacio, Hillman Curtis, Hoefler & Frere-Jones, Luba Lukova and Khoi Vinh. Each section explains how the designer approaches a project, what they found that works and even what does not work at times. You get an in-depth look in the projects. Most design books you find are filled with glamor shots of projects. These are always important for gaining ideas and inspiration but we don't get the how and why most of the time. The Essential Principles of Graphic Design does give you the how and why.
Debbie's The Essential Principles of Graphic Design is full of insight, words of wisdom and ideas on how and why to complete the communication challenge. "Art is Work" as Milton Glaser has stated and this book will give you the acuity to get both the art and work done. The Essential Principles of Graphic Design is available at amazon and your local bookstores.