We’re officially in that time of year: the season for porch parties, beer festivals, Braves baseball, Hooch shooting… and summer reading lists.
So, Jaime Lin Weinstein, Writer at Edgar Allan gathered a list for a few things to read in the season. She assumes the idea of the summer reading list came about because summer is typically associated with travel and vacations — particularly beach vacations, days lounging in the sun providing ample time for getting into a good book. But whether or not you have a summer vacation planned, you should make the time to read regardless because books are good for you. On so many levels.
She believes that in the working world, books can also offer inspiration and motivation via exposure to new ideas and modes of thinking, as well as lessons in leadership, self-improvement, professional development, and corporate successes and failures.
So at Edgar Allan, reading is a priority this year by starting the Edgar Allan Book Club! Below, you’ll find a few of the titles the agency has read so far this year with brief synopses/lessons to obtain from each…
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
Reviewed by Audrey Ward, Writer
Big Magic is a guide to living a creative life. It covers fear and faith, and how to conquer the voices (both internal and external) that challenge your calling to be a Creative. While it may skew too New Age for more pragmatic creators (Gilbert quite literally and staunchly refers to the inspiration to create and the blooming of ideas as actual magic), I strongly identified with descriptions of the innate urge to stop what you’re doing and MAKE something. It does feel a bit like being under a spell, and it’s what compelled me to write two full-length novels, and begin many more.
Gilbert brazenly insists everyone can be creative, but only the brave do so. It’s a stupid, kind of against-all-odds-and-reason courage, but that’s what makes the creative so special. There are “treasures” inside each of us that are dying to be discovered and explored, but one must find the creative courage to write (or paint, or design, or build) it into existence. “Big Magic” acts as equal parts road map and guidance counselor to nudge you toward your creative truth in an attempt to help you give birth to the creative being you’ve been all along.
Educated by Tara Westover
Reviewed by Kendra Rainey, Brand & Content Director
Educated, Tara Westover’s memoir of being raised without formal schooling by doomsday preppers, was gut-wrenching, thought-provoking and at times I found myself screaming, out loud, at the people in it for being so brutal and small-minded (I listened to the audiobook version, so there are some people here in Atlanta along my commute who probably wonder who that crazy lady in the Camry is…).
Tara’s viewpoint is the only one we get; she has the first and last word, and before starting “The Circle,” while do not doubt her testimony, just wondered if it was fair, if not right.
Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions by Guy Kawasaki
Reviewed by Zane Coffin, UX Design & Development
A book in which Guy Kawasaki talks about how to dangle carrots and grease tracks.In “Enchantment,” Kawasaki is enthusiastic to turn his readers into real charmers; the kind of people that can get others to stick to them, ultimately helping them get what they want. The tactics he promotes come off as very thoughtful and occasionally righteous. Told through an anthology style, with mostly personal history, these tactics are presented in a listicle-like format.
Some look like this, for example:
When in a leadership role, lead by example and be forgiving of shortcomings. When something goes wrong, take responsibility.
• Ask questions when you don’t know the answer.
• Be authentic.
• Focus on what you can change and not what you can’t.
• Be transparent.
• Give access.
However, there is an overarching theme that helps unify his points. In its entirety, “Enchantment” is really about understanding that people want to be the hero of their own story and have a purpose behind why they do what they do.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
Reviewed by Jaime Lin Weinstein, Writer
It’s not hyperbole to say that Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft appears on just about every What Writers Should Read list. It’s part anecdotal narrative of King’s life, part candid instruction and advice for the aspiring writer, and part inspirational just put pen to paper kick in the butt. After all, as King writes, “the work is always accomplished one word at a time.” (p156; note page numbers are from the 10th anniversary edition of book).
Of course, On Writing is tailored to the writer of fiction, so I wondered if it would be as applicable to my work in journalism and brand messaging. The answer, unsurprisingly, was yes. As a writer with an editorial background, I’m used to crafting stories that, while researched, take shape from my own point of view, and branding always feels less malleable. I’ve often approached brand with a more fixed mindset, trying to fit a brand into a preconceived structure, replicating the format and language of brands that have come before, rather than letting the new brand and its own story lead the way.
Other applicable branding advice from King:
King writes with an “Ideal Reader” in mind — akin to your target audience in any other form of writing, including journalism and brand messaging: “I.R. will help you get outside yourself a little, to actually read your work in progress as an audience would.” (p219)
Along with the idea of keeping your audience in mind, King writes something similar to the notion of aligning your message with human primitive needs like those presented in “Storybrand,” (Edgar Allan Book Club’s February book) e.g. building social networks, conserving time, conserving financial resources, gaining status, etc.: “When the reader hears strong echoes of his or her own life and beliefs, he or she is apt to become more invested in the story.” (p160)
King got advice from an old editor that can parallel the idea of internal versus external messaging in branding: “Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open. Your stuff starts out being just for you, in other words, but then it goes out.” (p57)
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
Reviewed by Danielle Scherr, Project Manager
The War of Art focuses on the internal battle that we all face when flexing our creative muscles, as Steven Pressfield takes readers through the various ways that resistance shows up in our lives. This book is relatable for anyone — not just specifically those in the creative space — as we all face feelings of self-doubt and fear of the unknown, but some of the biggest takeaways I had while reading were:
Resistance by definition is self-sabotage. Resistance and self-doubt: A counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident: the real one is scared to death.
The pro vs the amateur: The pro does not over identify with their job. They take pride and work as much as needed, but know they are more than their job description, while the amateur does not. Resistance loves this. We make a conscious decision to become a pro. There is no mystery in it…just choice. The act of professionalism is an attitude of egoless-ness and service. The mother of all fears is the fear that we will succeed.
When we push through our fear and lean into success, we may lose people in our lives, however we will gain new people. They are better and truer friends, and we are better and truer to them. This is because we have tapped into our authentic self.
We’d be more likely to say choose wisely but as the season’s not over, pick your best ones and thank Edgar Allan later!
About Edgar Allan
Edgar Allan believes their work should be story-first, but that the browser is a close second. In other words, they focus on Brand Strategy and Responsive Web Design.