What I Read in June 2016

June has been a fun month- lot’s of running around and doing different things. I also squeezed in some quality reading time- mixing business with pleasure (as usual). Here’s what I read in June:

Contagious by Jonah Berger

Want to create more contagious stuff? Want to do things people talk about? This New York Times bestseller by Jonah Berger explores why we talk about certain products and brands more than others. The book’s subtitle “How to Build Word of Mouth in the Digital Age” plays on the idea that we are all obsessed with what goes viral online, without paying attention to more traditional forms of transmission like the actual we all have conversations at water coolers, on buses and in parties. Turns out, we spend a lot of our time talking about brands and products! Berger covers key concepts (“STEPPS”) you should build into any idea or product to give them more word of mouth potential:
  • Social currency– people like to share things that make them look cool or make them seem ‘in the know’
  • Triggers– linking your product to something that will be ‘triggered’ on a regular basis
  • Emotion- sharing is about caring so get people to care
  • Public– visibility is very important for adoption
  • Practical value– news and information that is useful gets shared
  • Storytelling– people love to share stories, but make sure your product or brand is so central to the story that people can’t share the story without mentioning you (otherwise it’s just a great story)
The idea of triggers was really interesting and useful from a product marketing angle. I loved the fact that mentions of Cheerios on Twitter can be mapped on a daily basis to coincide with people’s breakfasts- mentions of Cheerios peak around 7:30/8 AM! We are such creatures of habit…. Books like these are reassuring and eye-opening; they make you want to go out and come up with some great concepts right away! Get Berger’s book on Amazon here.

Made to Stick by Chip & Dan Heath

How to make ideas stick? How to get people to talk about you? Simple questions with complex answers. This book is written by a pair of brothers who both bring their expertise on human behaviour and marketing to the table. The Heath brothers offer plenty of practical advice on how to spot great ideas and I love their emphasis on observing and listening to the world, downplaying the much lauded creative ability of a single individual to come up with great ideas. They also speak out against the arrogance of the curse of knowledge, emphasising the importance of making things simple and relevant to people’s lives. I especially loved their examples about how corporate communication (both internal and external) can be baffling and full of barriers to understanding. It’s almost like don’t want to be understood- but if you’re not understood, you’re not remembered either!
  • Very easy to read, loads of examples to explain key concepts in more detail
  • Summary points to help you along & plenty of takeaways
  • Insightful real world scenarios
Get the book on Amazon here.

The Spectre of Alexander Wolf by Gaito Gazdanov

Haunting, stunning and original in its narrative pursuit of one goal. This book mixes murder mystery, romance and existential crisis. Recommended to me by a friend with impeccable taste in books, I loved this book from page one. I am a big fan of Russian writers anyway, but Gazdanov was a new discovery for me. Born in St Petersburg, Gazdanov lived in Siberia and Ukraine before emigrating to Europe after the Russian Revolution because he was on the wrong side. This is one of his more famous books, none of which were ever published in the Soviet Union. The book is built around a simple fantastical event- a former revolutionary soldier finds a short story written from the perspective of a man he thought he had killed and left for dead during the war. The guilt of this one murder has poisoned his happiness, and the narrator becomes obsessed with tracking down the mystery author in order to face the man who has haunted his entire life. The story unfolds in Paris and includes a heady love affair, as well as a detour into the underbelly of Paris and its petty criminals. A great story and a brilliant portrayal of guilt and redemption, this book keeps surprising you right until the very end. Get the book on Amazon here.

The Naked Guide to Bristol by Gil Gillespie

I love Bristol and this guidebook is a fun way to learn more about its history, hidden stories and folklore. This jam-packed guidebook is organised into areas of Bristol, as well as themes like music so you can pick it up and read it in any way you want. It’s a lovely guidebook for any Bristol lover, and it’s full of local knowledge that isn’t commonly known. Written in an irreverent style, you can’t help but smile as you read- it made me really nostalgic about parts of Bristol I will never know. Get the book on Amazon here.

The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, illustrated by Sanna Annukka

Fairy tales are full of moral lessons hidden within their beautiful worlds and can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Their symbolism and motifs say a lot about our culture and I have always found them very fascinating. The Snow Queen is a story I have always loved- probably inspired by my snowy childhood in Finland. I was drawn to this particular edition thanks to Annukka’s vibrant illustrations, their colours and shapes inspiring a sense of nostalgia in me. Stylised and unique, her illustrations accompany this haunting children’s tale perfectly. The Snow Queen is a great read but its Annukka’s illustrations that really make this book so special. A book to treasure; it would make a great gift for literature lovers, big or small. Get the book on Amazon here. What did you read in June? **this post contains Amazon affiliate links which have not impacted the copy or the review given.

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Copywriter who specialises in all things digital, tech, and SEO for the Nordics. Also Finnish to English translation. Love B2B, tech and the arts.

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