One of the cool things about working in advertising is that inspiration is basically unavoidable. It’s all around you all the time, especially in an atmosphere like GSD&M’s which is so creatively fueled. To help harness that inspiration and bring new ideas to the office, I often turn to books. This year, I challenged myself to finish two books every month—one fiction and one nonfiction—because balance, you know?
Since then, I’ve found books that have both challenged me to grow and left my imagination running, which in turn have benefited how I work and think. Of the books I’ve read so far this year, below are my personal top four summer reads—good for beach days or lunch break reads.
HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE
By Dale Carnegie
An oldie, but a classic. Published in 1936 and revised in 1981, over 15 million copies have been sold. It’s one of the most successful books in American history, for a good reason.
In just under 300 pages, this book taught me the fundamentals of interacting with people, winning people over, persuasion and being a leader. Being in business development, learning these skills was an integral aspect in my career and how I interacted with coworkers and clients alike. My biggest learnings from the book were how to positively handle conflict and be confident in my own opinion, both of which are incredibly helpful in my career and personal life.
THE SUBTLE ART OF NOT GIVING A F*CK
By Mark Manson
AKA: The self-help book for people who do not read self-help books. Mark Manson contradicts the cultural idea of mindless positivity that isn’t practical or helpful to most people. What did I gain from his argument? I gained the understanding that life’s struggles provide more meaning and are a realistic approach to misfortune in a society that’s constantly trying to appear happy.
Manson’s book taught me how to take a deep breath and focus on what truly matters. If it’s not worth the fight, then let it go. My mom always said, “pick your battles,” and this book exponentially reinforced what I’d been hearing my whole life.
By Gillian Flynn
This one’s a not-so-guilty pleasure. Dealing with class issues in rural America, intense poverty and the Satanic cult hysteria that swept the United States in the 1980s. It’s a truly chilling novel. From a small-town massacre to the uncovering of endless horrors and secrets, it’s the kind of book that makes you terrified to turn the page but leaves you with no choice but to see what happens next.
I love a book with twisted characters and a dark storyline, and this is the only book that has ever scared me to my core. While I love nonfiction and gaining knowledge, sometimes it’s nice to escape into a completely different world—even if I have to sleep with the lights on.
BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP
By S.J. Watson
You won’t be able to put this one down. In a few words, Before I Go to Sleep is a disturbing, psychological thriller. It’s one of those storylines that is real enough to make you a bit paranoid in the weeks after you finish it. Playing with the grey area between real life and make-believe makes for a mind-bending reading experience.
What’s interesting about this novel is that it offers unexpected perspectives that really shift how you look at the story. It’s easy to get lost in one character’s point of view, but it’s a good reminder that there really are two sides to every story.
So while you’re on vacation this summer or just looking for a fresh perspective to bring to the office, don’t forget to pack one (or all) of these reads. Whether you’re on a work trip, the beach or your couch, any one of these books is sure to teach you something or keep you on your toes. Or better yet, both!