What Are You Reading? Part IV
Aug 9, 2016
I am all about celebrating arbitrary holidays.
Today, though. Today is probably my favorite of all the arbitrary holidays, because today is National Book Lovers Day.
I have lists of books I plan on reading. I have books I’m saving to read during a specific season, or over a certain vacation. In short – I have a problem.
In honor of this most glorious holiday, I asked my fellow Centerliners to share what books are on their shelves – specifically, books that have influenced them in their lives or careers. Add these to your list, ASAP.
I’ll start things off…
Mary-Hanley Coleman, Marketing Coordinator / Writer-Social
Whether I’m writing a post for the Insights blog, a case study on a major client, or a personal blog to share with friends, it’s easy for me to become completely, totally overwhelmed by the pressure. You know, the pressure I’m sure most writers feel – the pressure that everything I write must be absolutely perfect.
At times like that, I think of Anne Lamott’s advice – bird by bird. Just take it bird by bird.
Oh, that doesn’t make sense to you? Read the book. With her trademark sense of humor, Lamott offers advice on writing, and living, that’s just too good not to take. She’s known as the “People’s Author” for a reason, y’all.
Megan Riley, Senior Project Manager
While in college and completing various newsroom internships, I lost count of how many professional journalists recommended I read this book. His inspirational approach to storytelling provided a strong foundation for my rise from intern to executive producer, and still resonates with me today as a content marketer.
Dave Baeumler, Executive Creative Director
I don’t think I’ve ever recovered from reading The Journal of Albion Moonlight by Kenneth Patchen in my twenties.
It completely blew up my idea of what a novel could be. I’d already had a steady diet of Kafka, Burroughs, Philip K Dick, etc…so I wasn’t a stranger to strange fiction. But Albion Moonlight was on a different scale. Part imaginary travel diary, part concrete poetry, part screed against everything inhuman about mankind, Patchen’s goal was to allow a reader to open to any page of the book and find a living, breathing thing.
There is an allegorical story about a band of travelers making a pilgrimage to find H. Roivas (read the last word backwards) – but it’s smashed up into tiny shards and scattered throughout its dark pages. It dares you to find meaning and make connections. It is shocking, horrifying, funny and profound—often all at once.
Patchen himself was all of those things—a pre-beat generation poet who coupled his readings with jazz performances, he was violently anti-war, passionately pro-worker, fanatically artistic and a true American mystic. He inspired a generation of poets and writers like Ginsberg, Kerouac and Henry Miller. I still pick up the Journal from time to time, flip open to a random page and feel the intensity of Patchen’s force all over again.
Nate Jones, Junior Digital Strategist
This book has probably made the most significant impact on my life, and continues to influence what I do and how I (try to) live and work each and every day.
I have a not-so-secret obsession with personal enrichment or “self-help” books, and this book is in many ways a summary or collection of common themes and habits encouraged throughout many other books in the genre. In the introduction, Covey talks about his own passions for self-help, life management, and professional and relationship development, and how the 7 habits emerged after he started recognizing patterns and common themes discussed in many different books, workshops, and lectures he was reading/attending.
For me, this book is kinda like my Bible. It taught me to be intentional about my goals, be driven by a mission statement and longer term plans, and appreciate that every person has something to offer to the whole. Perhaps more importantly, it taught me to always strive for cooperation and not competition, that life is a journey, and how to really listen to others. My favorite habit: “Seek first to understand, then be understood.”
If it isn’t clear already, I absolutely recommend it. It’s not written in any sort of cheesy, “YOU…are the one. YOU…are a gift of nature….” sort of language, and instead takes a very practical approach drawing from real life, family or work contexts so the reader can put it to immediate use.
Michael Mercer, Motion Graphics Designer
I think we would all agree that Pixar is the epitome of what people would think of when they think of creativity. Ed Catmull, the president of Pixar, wrote this book specifically about how to maintain quality in a creative culture – and it’s the first book I can think of written by one of the world’s leading creative studios.
The point Catmull opens the book with is that once Walt Disney died, the company floundered. His purpose is to make sure that doesn’t happen with Pixar, once the rest of the founder move on.
It’s definitely geared towards the animation industry, but I think it’s principles work really well for agencies or any company that deals with creating things as their primary occupation. I read the book four times the first two weeks I had it, it was just that rich and that cool.
Wally Hitchcock, Associate Creative Director
In this book, the author talks about how designers work with clients, and how they should work with clients. A couple years later he wrote a book from the other side, called “You’re My Favorite Client.” I think they just really help designers and clients see where the other is coming from, and helps them understand how to talk to each other. Both have helped me better frame my arguments for design choices I’ve made.
This book just really gives you different ideas about why things are done different ways – why people purchase, what are triggers for people, things you can do besides just create an ad to trigger people and sell products.
This should be assigned reading for anyone that goes into advertising. Seriously. I’ve read the second and fourth editions multiple times. Sullivan is a very down to earth guy, just talking about the creation process, and how it can be hard to go through it. He talks about how to trigger ideas and think about things differently.
And, just for fun…
This is the story of the first Star Wars movie, but it’s kind of like a secondary plot – it’s from the perspective of, and about, everyone else that was on the Death Star besides the people the movie followed.
Just a really cool book, that has a lot to do with the gaming subculture of the 70s and 80s.
And the Game of Thrones books, of course.
Tyler Dady, Associate Creative Director
As the title suggests, this is a history of the Americas before Columbus showed up, driven by facts. Essentially, the book reviews how before Columbus arrived, how far advanced the culture was with agriculture, economics, biology, etc. Fascinating read.
I read this book once a year. The story behind the characters, plot development – it’s just incredible. It’s a fast book, and unpredictable. You won’t know what’s going to happen next.
Elizabeth Monnett, Senior Project Manager
This is basically about how to start a job – how you walk into a new company and make an impact and be successful. I would say this is for someone a little further on in their career, not starting their absolute first job.
It’s also a good book to read not only for starting a new job at a new company, but if you’re taking on a new role within the current company you work for. It goes over how to handle that transition, gain trust – as well as what mistakes to look out for, common pitfalls, etc.
I like this book because it’s sort of an alternate history. It’s interesting from a historical perspective, and it’s written in a way that makes you look at things differently – you have to learn to not look at things so monolithically.
How did France come to be one country, when it started out as 30 different, separate groups that all influenced the cultural identity? I was a French major in college…
This book, still, has influenced me the most creatively. It’s still so good, every time I read it.
Javier Leiva, Associate Creative Director
This is just a really great book. Basically, it asks the age old question of “Do eureka moments really happen? How can you strike an idea?”
The truth is there are no original ideas – we build off experiences and others ideas. The book definitely has a more scientific approach, and talks a lot about Charles Darwin and his idea of evolution. That wasn’t just a “eureka moment” – that was a slow hunch that develooped over years.
This book is by the same author, but it focuses on the “Butterfly Effect.” How one innovation leads to another – sort of stepping up the notion from the previous book. It’s very focused on ideation and the creative process, and I think you could read it as a marketing professional and get a lot out of it.
This is my go-to client relations book – I just think it’s such a good book in that regard.
As creatives, we can get really upset about feedback, and it can be really hard to take. I keep this book on my phone, and use it as a way to sort of psych myself into the right mindset for meeting with clients. It’s like a little pocket Bible – it puts me in the right mindset to handle any sort of feedback in a positive way.
Marc Thaler, Writer
“They float. And when you’re down here with me, you’ll float, too!”
To this day, I hear those words and, after shaking off the shivers, instantly look for a storm drain with a killer clown inside it.
I learned a long time ago that you can’t go wrong reading a Stephen King book. Salem’s Lot, The Shining,Pet Sematary… the list goes on and on.
But that list has to start with It — all 1,100-plus pages.
What a masterpiece. And King’s killer clown, Pennywise? Pure genius. Tim Curry expertly brought Pennywise to life in the 1990 TV mini-series — one of the few movies that matched the intensity of the novel.
I’m too old to believe in the boogeyman. But if there’s anything that can still convince me he exists, It is it.
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