Not just for copywriters, but for anybody that wants to communicate effectively with their audience.
There’s just something about going into a library, grabbing what seems to be an interesting book, and for a split second, tuning the world out completely and stepping into a whole new world.
Whether you’ve always been an avid reader or you’ve only just recently been able to dedicate more time to reading during one of the many lockdowns, and you’re looking for recommendations that will not only entertain you but also serve as a lesson in writing, this one’s for you, my friend.
Concise writing lesson: “The Well-Fed Writer” by Peter Bowerman (also very educational)
Much like a witty ad that tickles the brain, “The well-fed writer” not only has countless great practical ideas on how to become a self-sufficient commercial writer, but it’s also written in a very engaging and concise manner.
Sweet and to the point, it literally gets you excited about writing for a living, whether you’re at the beginning of your freelancing journey and have no idea how to price your services, or well into your writing career and feel you’re not the best at selling yourself.
And speaking of “sweet and to the point” you don’t even need to get too far into the book to get to the best parts.
The moment you open the book and stop to see the table of contents, you’re hooked:
chapter 3 "Learning to Love S & M (sales and marketing)" and its subsequent subchapters ”The Icky Sales Thingy: Bad Experiences, Bad Associations” or ”Into the Mind of the Marketer (C’mon in, the Water’s Fine)"...
chapter 4 “www.YourWebsite.com” and its subchapters ”Writer Reluctantly Builds Site, Business Soars, Leaves Crummy Job” or “Web goals: Marketing Simplified, Credibility Enhanced”
- all great examples of short, funny, engaging copy that’ll intrigue most readers.
Engaging, no fluff, personal writing lesson: “I’ll drink to that: A life in style with a twist” by Betty Halbreich
I mean… the title has already got me reaching out for my wallet (or if you’re an online shopper, stumbling to add to cart).
“I’ll drink to that” is the autobiography of the legendary personal shopper at luxury department store Bergdorf Goodman, Betty Halbreich. Having worked with countless socialites, Hollywood stars such as Liza Minelli and Meryl Streep, politicians but also rich yet not famous women, Halbreich’s autobiography is a very real look at New York society across four decades, starting with 1976 when she was first hired at Bergdorf.
Either a fan of the golden era of Bergdorf or not, this book is a wonderful read because of how well it’s written.
It’s personal without being overly emotional, it’s funny, witty, deep and tells the no-fluff story of a woman that became the best at what she did without any help. Just hard work and a great instinct.
Storytelling lesson from “Rules of Civility” by Amor Towles
If you’re familiar with Amor Towles, bestselling author of “A Gentleman in Moscow”, you’ll know that he has a very visual way of telling stories. Set in post-Depression New York, “Rules of Civility” tells the story of Katey Kontent, a clever, introspective twenty five year old whose life changes on a cold winter night. Nothing too tragic, though, don’t worry.
It’s a story about how seemingly small events can change your life in many ways.
It’s Towles’s style of writing that pulls you in. The book sets the scene with Katey, a mature woman now, walking through an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art with her husband and spotting a photo of someone that once meant very much to her. Someone she hasn’t thought of for a long time. This moment unlocks a series of thoughts in her mind as she begins to take us through the captivating journey that was her young adult life.
With Katey, we travel by cab to smoky jazz clubs in the Village, see Manhattan in the early 30` through her eyes, watch Broadway “slipping by the windows like a string of lights being pulled off a Christmas tree,” and experience New York both from a young-and-living-in-a-boardinghouse kind of perspective, as well as from the angle of an accomplished woman.
Conversational writing lesson: “Make time” by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky
Hands down “Make Time” is a great read for anybody that doesn’t feel they’re being productive with their time - and since most of us are working from home now, getting distracted often is a very annoying reality. It speaks about day-to-day situations, devices, and habits that interrupt our workflow, and how to educate ourselves to stop allowing them to do so.
Although this book is packed with great points: how you only waste time if you’re not intentional about how you spend it, why it’s natural to react to what’s in front of you rather than doing what you planned, how every distraction imposes a cost on the depth of your focus or how our brains are wired…
… “Make Time” is a great read also because it’s a great example of how conversational writing can make an educational piece all the more engaging and interesting. It’s written in a way that doesn’t just teach, it entertains.
It delivers an important message in an engaging, fun manner that’ll stick with you after you read it.
Which is what any copywriter strives for in the end. I think…
But that’s just me… thinking out loud.