Outbrain’s 2015 Summer Reading List for Marketers

Brandon Carter
Brandon Carter

Summer Reading List for Marketers

The unofficial start to summer is finally here! Whether you’re planning a trip or just looking forward to the leisurely comforts of sitting outdoors, here are some books we’d recommend adding to your summer reading list to help you stay sharp. Don’t worry, they’re not all marketing books per se…

Our Staff Picks Are…

Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite by Paul Arden

This is a book you could read cover-to-cover in about an hour or you could pick your way through it a day at a time… in fact we’d recommend doing both. Paul Arden, a longtime ad exec at Saatchi & Saatchi, illustrates through colorful anecdotes and Roger-Sterling-like wit the rewards of subverting conventional wisdom. To quote the British legend himself: “If you always make the right decision, the safe decision, the one most people make, you will be the same as everyone else.” Surprisingly fun beach read.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

We often joke about content marketing as a marathon, but Haruki Murakami actually did run a marathon (and subsequently ran something called an “ultramarathon”) and then wrote a book about the similarities between writing and running. Pretty clever, huh? It’s actually much more insightful than that, depicting in riveting detail how daunting running long-distance,  writing long-form or any other long-term goal, for that matter, really can be… and the discipline required to conquer it.

Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull

Hollywood may not be known for original thinking, but the more you learn from the mind of Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios, the more you realize there’s hope yet!  A fascinating study of what it takes to cultivate and manage creativity at all levels of an organization, in any industry — from someone who did it as well as anyone ever has. One of our favorites.

Thinking Strategically: The Competitive Edge in Business, Politics, and Everyday Life by Avinash Dixit and Barry Nalebuff

This one’s been around for a long time but holds up nicely. An entertaining guide to good decision-making and outmaneuvering your competition. Only caveat: your competition may have read it already…

The Digital Renaissance of Work by Paul Miller and Elizabeth Marsh.

Right away, the concept of the “digital workplace” is an intriguing one, with many possible interpretations of what it means — part of the fun of Paul Miller and Elizabeth Marsh’s examination of the radical changes technology has brought to professional life. As you go through case studies featuring companies like IKEA and IBM, it’s worth thinking: how does technology affect the way you work?

Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

Get in touch with your creative side with this handy guide to out-of-the-box thinking and turning work that already exists into inspired ideas of your own. In the words of Picasso (who knew a thing or two about creativity), “good artists borrow, great artists steal.”

When to Rob a Bank by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

The Freakonomics guys demonstrate how great storytelling can make seemingly innocuous questions or mindless data the most compelling ideas in the world.

The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Story of Amazon by Brad Stone

Written before a string of experiments that fell a bit flat, The Everything Store is a fascinating look at Jeff Bezos’ unorthodox leadership style and the ways Amazon reflects his philosophies, down to the core. In fact, it’s even more interesting to read in light of what some have called a recent slip in focus for the retail giant/technology company. Then again, when you’re the Everything Store, who knows what you’re really up to?

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

When it comes to making big, carefully-considered decisions in our lives, most of us would like to think we have our wits about us. But do we? Behavioral economist Dan Ariely shares his findings from a slew of warped experiments that really tests everything we know about why we do what we do.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

A somewhat related read: when it comes to the routines you engage in — both online and off — do you ever consider how that routine came to be? After you read The Power of Habit, you’ll suddenly realize how prevalent the simple behavioral cycle of Cue, Reward and the resulting Routine really is. If you can dissect the nature of habitual behavior, who knows, maybe it’ll help you break a bad habit of your own or figure out the secret to marketing a new product. Highly recommended for content marketers ready to invest in brand publishing.

Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant

It’s easy to get wrapped up in our ambitions in the pursuit of success, but Give and Take makes an excellent case for investing in other people’s success as a means of reaching your own. While demonstrating the impact generosity can have on organizations and individual careers, Grant effectively warns against its misallocation and abuse. With the right balance of empowerment and empathy, nice people don’t finish last — they often finish ahead. A feel-good read with real-world lessons.

Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi

If you haven’t already taken a bite out of Joe Pulizzi’s treatise on content marketing, or you simply forget some of its wisdom, slip it into the beach bag and take a refresher on how to publish content that doesn’t just interest your customers but persuades them to take meaningful action, too.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Kondo’s philosophy on cleansing your life of anything that doesn’t “spark joy” struck such a chord with audiences earlier this year, her name is now a verb. To “Kondo” doesn’t just mean getting rid of the inessential — it means organizing and maintaining the objects that do bring you joy. Her less-is-more approach is just as applicable to marketing strategy as it is to personal life. Join the revolution. Get your Kondo on this summer.

What would you recommend for marketers this summer? Tweet us @Outbrain.


Featured image courtesy of Lauren Finkel via Flickr.

Brandon Carter

Brandon Carter

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  • Adrienne
    Adrienne| July 31, 2015 at 2:14PM

    I’m a little late on this, but can definitely recommend Steal Like an Artist and Epic Content Marketing. I would add Trust Me, I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday — I’m about halfway through it right now and it’s a real eye-opener!