A living, breathing list of the best books I've ever read summed up in one sentence.
I read a lot. Like, a lot, a lot.
In part, because I adore reading, it’s a lovely way to learn, to explore and to get lost for an afternoon.
But, in addition to this, reading and writing go hand in hand.
Reading good writers makes writers better writers. In fact, I’d argue it’s nearly impossible to become a great or even good writer if you’re not willing to set aside some time each day to read.
For writers, reading is like honey –– it’s impossible to touch without walking away with some of its stickiness stuck to you and your pen.
At Honey Copy, my creative writing shop that grows brands with pretty words, I put to paper somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 words each week.
The only way to keep my pen full of ink is to read. Period.
Now, in addition to just writers, I think the same goes for marketers, entrepreneurs, snow cone vendors and really anyone who makes a living creatively.
Reading gifts us ideas, it enhances creativity, it sharpens critical thinking, it lowers anxiety and it teaches us things we previously did not know.
Bottom line –– read.
The list you’ll find below is not finished. It will never be finished.
It’s a living breathing list of the best books I’ve ever read summed up in one sentence. Why one sentence? Two reasons.
One, it’s a great copywriting practice –– attempting to sum up an entire 100,000+ word book into a single sentence.
And, two, you don’t have all the time in the world to pick a damn book to read, so I wanted to keep my thoughts short, sweet and to the point.
Unlike other lists littering the internet, you won’t strictly find best-selling business books on mine (though, ironically, I kick off the list with a best-selling business book).
You will, however, find books about poetry, writing, creativity, the Hell’s Angels, some of the greatest people who have ever lived and, yes, the occasion one about business, too.
Regardless, most (if not all) of the books on this list have lessons that can be applied to life, love, creativity and doing work that matters. Both myself and Honey Copy are a living breathing culmination of these books. Enjoy.
Read This If You Want to Take Great Photographs by Henry Carroll.
Be very aware of the rules, both in photography and in life –– know the rules, practice the rules, become great at playing by the rules –– but be prepared to break the rules (because that’s where genius happens).
Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga by Hunter S. Thompson.
Gonzo is a style of journalism where the writer is part of the story and telling it through their eyes, but more than this it is a lesson on living –– a lovely reminder to not watch life with our mouths agape on the sidelines but to instead lace up our boots, get our hands dirty and actively participate as a character in the story we are living.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King.
There are no shortcuts, no writing hacks and certainly no lost books of black magic –– if you want to be a good writer, you must read a lot and you must write a lot.
Citizen Illegal by Jose Olivarez.
It’s wildly difficult to empathize with the struggles, the pain, the customs and the beliefs of humans from different cultures, so when we begin to feel ourselves passing judgement, we should first read something they’ve written, talk to them face to face over coffee and attempt to step into their shoes (if they’re fortunate enough to have them).
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.
Grief and loss are terribly complicated human emotions and often times our immediate response is to ignore the feelings and the people associated with them entirely, instead we must hold on tighter to those we love and may be losing –– then and only then can we let them, the grief and the loss, go.
Hidden Water by Frank Stanford.
Perhaps there is no such things as good people and bad people but instead real people and unreal people –– regardless the pursuit of being the truest version of ourselves both in our writing and in our lives is an admirable one (even if that version isn’t agreeable or consider good by greater society).
This Boy’s Life: A Memoir by Tobias Wolff.
When our dreams are wild, big and boisterous they have the power to change our lives and at times even save our lives –– whether they comes true or not.
Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy.
The best copywriter, marketers, advertisers and entrepreneurs are killer-poets –– they view their craft as both a means to an end and an end in of itself.
Insomniac City by Billy Hayes.
If you love someone, truly love someone, hold onto them tight and don’t ever let them go –– until it’s time for them to go.
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.
Kill your fear and make good art every single day and understand that it’s better to be creating and getting your ass handed to you than it is to be watching on the sidelines, or worse yet, not watching at all.
The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries & Jack Trout.
Marketing isn’t about selling products or services, it’s about thoughtfully crafting and managing the prospect’s perception of your brand.
More coming soon… in the mean time, sign up for Sticky Notes, my email list reserved strictly for entrepreneurs and creatives looking to write pretty words and sell like hell.
By Cole Schafer.