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Reading List: October 2013 – Isaacson, Sullivan and Pamuk

October 12, 2013 | By | 1 Reply More

As always, I’ve got a mixed bag of recommendations on the reading list for you this month.

We’ve got a biography of a recognised genius, a book of general copywriting advice and a detective novel set in Istanbul.

See what I mean about a mixed bag?

Hopefully you’ll choose to read one or two. Unless, of course, you’ve read them already, in which case do please comment below and share your own thoughts on what you got out of them.

As for me, I’m now on to the new Jim Henson biography that’s just been published – I’ll let you know how it is next month.

For now, here are my recommendations for October:

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson


The guy gets thrown out of the company he built only to go help Pixar become the huge success it is today. Then he goes back to the original company to revolutionise modern communication.

Damn this guy was good.

Indeed, I imagine you’ve probably already heard one or two stories about Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, CEO of Pixar and co-creator of the Apple Mac, iPod, iPhone, iPad and any other tech breakthrough you want to name.

You might have heard he stank too – he figured his clean living and fruitarian diet would cover him. It didn’t.

You might have heard how he ran his whole company on the premise of everything being “insanely great”.

And hey, you might have heard how he was a little insane himself, constantly flipping on people and being a bit of an asshole at times.

Whatever you’ve heard though – just read this book.

Seriously. It’s great.

At just under 600 pages it’s not a slim volume, but it’s so bloody interesting you’ll find yourself rushing through it to find out what the guy does next.

Chances are you own something that Apple (and by extension Jobs) has produced, so you’d guess there are some serious lessons to be learnt about selling from this guy.

I can confirm there are. A bucket load.

So, if you haven’t read this, I encourage you to make it the one book you do read this month.

You can buy Steve Jobs from Amazon here.

Hey Whipple, Squeeze This by Luke Sullivan


I’d seen this mentioned a few times by various sales people and finally got round to reading it after Dan Adams recommended it in the interview I did with him.

It’s a decent read.

Sullivan obviously knows what he’s talking about and is very well read himself – he seems to reference a different book about copy on every page.

It’s written in a very bite-size way, which makes it very easy to dip in and out of, though read continuously it does repeat itself a little.

That said, the fact he keeps revisiting key points (either on purpose or by mistake) is a plus in this case, as they will certainly give you some food for thought in your own writing.

As I say, there is a lot of good advice – from writing in a simple and human way to dealing with the whole creative process – and Sullivan’s vast experience shines through.

Also, considering he’s more of an indirect response man (having spent most of his years in agencies) he’s obviously studied direct marketing and understands its importance.

For me, the only downside is the constant reference to awards. He slags them off mostly, saying they’re somewhat pointless, but then he seems to keep pointing out how many he’s won. Hmm.

Aside from that, though, it’s a book I’d recommend to copywriters – especially if you’re relatively new to the subject, as it will give you a good overall insight into the concept of advertising.

You can buy Hey Whipple, Squeeze This from Amazon here.

My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk


Last month I actually read the most recent novel to be published by Pamuk: Silent House. But it’s not that good. It’s ok. But it’s definitely not a book I’d recommend.

It’s actually the second novel he wrote (he’s since written around eight more), but it’s just not been translated yet. So, perhaps its publication is a little cynical.

That said, it’s not fair to bad-mouth Pamuk too much. He’s a great writer and four of his books are outstanding. A pretty good hit rate for a novelist.

For me, the one that stands out the most and the one I would recommend to you as a friend is My Name is Red. It’s excellent.

Now, I must admit I do like it when writers pervert the clichéd detective novel format in some way (think Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy or Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn), so the fact that this is a reimagining of a detective novel enhanced my enjoyment.

Indeed, it is in essence a simple who-dunnit, but being set in Pamuk’s native Istanbul and the nature of the way the story is told gives it a very intriguing and exotic feel.

It’s written very well and avoids the rambling and abstract elements of some of Pamuk’s weaker novels.

Overall it’s just a great story that you’ll enjoy reading but from a copywriting perspective, I think one thing this novel is particularly good at is holding back details and delivering just enough at the right point. That’s a very powerful skill in direct response copywriting and something you should think about when reading this novel.

You can buy My Name is Red from Amazon here.

That’s all for this month – I hope that gives you some ideas for your reading.

And remember, if you’ve read any of the books I mention, please do share your thoughts on them in the comments section below.

Best,
Glenn

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Category: Monthly Reading

About the Author ()

Glenn Fisher is a professional copywriter, founder of AllGoodCopy.com and author of Write Better Copy. He is an expert in long copy sales letters, having written copy that has so far generated more than £10 million in revenue. Born in Grimsby, he now lives in London.

Comments (1)

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  1. Anthony says:

    I enjoyed Hey Whipple, Squeeze This by Luke Sullivan,
    especially the later sections where he shares advise on building a
    portfolio/book for those of us who haven’t worked in agencies or
    attended school.

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