9 Great Books to Elevate Your Marketing Game

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    May 5, 2020

9 Great Books to Elevate Your Marketing Game


I always feel a little lost without a book on my nightstand or Kindle. I studied the classics in college, but today I read everything from memoirs to mysteries when I’m not spinning my own stories, racking up miles in my running shoes or chasing my adventurous toddler.

Like most of the world, I’ve craved distractions during the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States. I wasn’t one of the 34 million viewers streaming Tiger King in the show’s first 10 days, but I have read six books since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic on March 11. I haven’t seen the inside of Wray Ward’s Charlotte office since March 13, but I have stayed in close touch with my co-workers and clients from a loft that doubles as my home office and, with wall-to-wall paperbacks and hardcover tomes, a bookworm’s dream.

All that extra time in my personal library got me thinking: What if I curated a list of inspiring reads from 110-plus teammates — think indie bookstore staff picks, just for people in marketing?

Why not?

You can grab most of these books on Amazon or, even better, support your local bookseller. Many have continued to offer online ordering and curbside pickup since stay-at-home restrictions went into effect.

    1. “Big Magic: How to Live a Creative Life, and Let Go of Your Fear” (Elizabeth Gilbert)

    I read “Big Magic” not long after I wrote my first book. I was slogging through the submission process with agents, resentful of rejection and too rattled to write anything new. Gilbert is best known for her 2006 memoir, “Eat, Pray, Love,” but I’ll always remember “Big Magic” as the book that helped me face my fears and rekindle my passions. If you want to live your most creative life, read it.

    2. “Bird by Bird” (Anne Lamott)

    “Bird by Bird” swooped into my life as required reading for a college creative writing course, but I held onto my dog-eared copy and still reference it if I need a spark of inspiration (or, let’s be honest, a kick in the tail). Whether you need help getting started or don’t know the meaning of The End, Lamott’s honest, funny approach can show you how to open your eyes and how to survive.

    3. “Clear Seeing Place: Studio Visits” (Brian Rutenberg)

    Critics praise “Clear Seeing Place” as a great pick for anyone interested in creativity, and author Rutenberg, a painter, inspired not one but two Wray Ward writers. Barbara Birge recommended the title to fellow writer Findley Merritt, who calls the book “the kind of great writing that makes you go, ‘Oh, that’s how writing is supposed to sound.’”

    4. “How to Not Always Be Working: A Toolkit for Creativity and Radical Self-Care” (Marlee Grace)

    Let’s be honest: Do we really need a pandemic to prioritize things such as creativity and self-care? Henderson doesn’t think so, which is why she says Grace’s book should be on your list. Bonus: This quick read is available as an online PDF.

    5. “Let the Great World Spin” (Colum McCann)

    Amanda Caskey, senior PR and content account manager by day and fiction aficionado by night, believes the more you read, the better you write. McCann’s ambitious vision of 1970s New York City inspires her to be better — something we can all likely appreciate.

    6. “On Writing” (Stephen King)

    Stephen King is the author of more than 50 books, and get this — the guy really knows how to write. Part personal narrative, part style manual, it’s full of memorable one-liners (“Many epic tales are epic crap”) and sage tips (“You must not come lightly to the blank page”). It’s also a collection of some of the best writing tools you’ll find anywhere outside of talent, tenacity and time. I keep King’s “On Writing” on my desk at home for easy access.

    7. “Talking to Strangers” (Malcolm Gladwell)

    Insights Specialist Ashley Virgil says this marked her first time reading a book by Gladwell, the Canadian journalist and writer perhaps best known for his take on popular culture. “Talking to Strangers” dives into the psychology of how humans collect information about a new person through historical examples.

    8. “The Starless Sea” (Erin Morgenstern)

    Designer Katie Gates believes this whimsical, otherworldly title may spark your creativity when you least expect it. She’s not alone: The 2019 book was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Fantasy. Sign me up.

    9. “The Sun Also Rises” (Ernest Hemingway)

    A classic never dies. Hemingway’s portrait of the Lost Generation is also an archetype for spare but powerful writing — just one of the reasons this novel made it onto Caskey’s short list.

    Did I miss your favorite book? Send me a note, and we may feature your pick on social media.

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