Book Recommendations…

So many books — so few with fresh, powerful, and important insight. Here are books I keep on my “worth reading” bookshelf… (I’ll add new ones over time.)

“Chronicle of a Death Foretold” By Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez.

A “must read” for any strategist – a warning about the limitations of perspective.

“The Art of Writing Advertising : Conversations with Masters of the Craft: David Ogilvy, William Bernbach, Leo Burnett, Rosser Reeves, and George Gribbin” by Denis Higgins (Advertising Age)

Those agencies who believe they’ve moved beyond the fundamental truth found in these pages are agencies who doom their clients. Despite the years that have intervened, these interviews surprised me with their perceptiveness and fundamental soundness.

“How Brands Grow” by Byron Sharp (Director, Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science)

Solid truths are hard to find among advertising writing. That’s what makes this book so different. Byron Sharp has the best analytical grasp of brands and advertising that I know. He is backed by 60 years of research at the institute. And, he pairs this with a willingness to show where business and advertising herd instincts have led companies far astray. Everyone should read this book then think deeply about what it says.

“The Halo Effect” by Phil Rosenzweig

This book methodically discusses 9 delusions in business – delusions that reveal when story tellers have sacrificed truth in order to tell a better story. And there’s surprises along the way when we learn how flawed the so-called research was that led to such popular business successes as “Good to Great” and “In Search of Excellence”. If you care about understanding business truths, this is a must read book.

“The Organization Man” by William H. Whyte

This is a tremendous book – and I thoroughly recommend it for anyone involved in business. The lessons are as fresh and important today as they were 50-60 years ago. If you will, the “Organization Man” won out and we’ve forgotten Whyte’s lessons about why this will be a problem. (Ad people should read carefully the section starting with “The Fight Against Genius”.)

“Shop Class as Soul Craft” By Matthew B. Crawford

Now we’re far afield from business. But businesses should read and learn from this book. Starting with how employee’s suffer in a world of randomly subjective evaluation (i.e. political life or death). It’s refreshingly stated. And he reminds us that the only jobs that truly can’t be outsourced include plumbers, electricians, contractors, and motorcycle repair.

“The Creative Habit” by Twyla Tharp

Fresh insights from one of the world’s greatest choreographers about the search for new insight and delivering new things. Fascinating perspective from a different creative medium.

“Building Brand with DRTV” by Doug Garnett

You didn’t think I’d leave my own book off the table did you? This is not meant to be presumptive. But whether DRTV is important to you or not, this book offers an unusual angle on the advertising business – one that can inform and surprise a wide range of readers.

Beyond these I always recommend works by David Ogilvy and echo his recommendation for Claude Hopkins’ “Scientific Advertising”. And the perceptive work of two friends: Don Dickinson’s books on Account Management and Media; Richard Rosen’s “Convergence Marketing” with his balanced sense for integrating direct and brand advertising.

Copyright 2012 – Doug Garnett – All Rights Reserved

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