I’m an incurable bookworm so I always have at least one book on the go. Here are some highlights from the last few years.
For each book I’ve provided a link to further information and written a one-sentence description.
Content design / writing books
- How to Make Sense of Any Mess (2014) by Abby Covert
A nice introduction to some of the main approaches we can use when organizing information.
- Cultivating Content Design (2021) by Beth Dunn
Some good advice on how to create a strong and respected content design practice.
- Content Strategy for the Web (2012) by Kristina Halvorson
Content strategy, governance, steakholder management, data-driven decision making, and much more besides.
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (2000; revised 2020) by Stephen King
Part memoir, part writing masterclass, and an all round entertaining read (as you’d expect).
- Several short sentences about writing (2012) by Verlyn Klinkenborg
A call-to-action to focus more consciously on the words, sounds, and rhythms that make up our sentences.
- Why you need a content team and how to build one (2018) by Rachel McConnell
Lots of good advice about assessing and developing content maturity, skills, and teams.
- Writing is Designing (2020) by Michael Metts and Andy Welfle
A really helpful book (with an apt title) covering most of the core areas of writing for digital products.
- Strategic Writing for UX (2019) by Torrey Podmajersky
A really practical book on creating frameworks and patterns for creating effective content.
- Content Design (2017) by Sarah Richards
I work as a Content Designer, so it’s perhaps no surprise that I’m a big fan of this little book.
- The Elements of Style (1918; revised 2018) by William Strunk Jr.
One of the definitive books on writing style that’s still useful 100 years on.
- Eats, Shoots & Leaves (2003) by Lynne Truss
A fun book about the importance of punctuation in everyday writing.
- Information Anxiety 2 (2001) by Richard Saul Wurman
Quite an old book now, but it contains some useful prompts and approaches to organising information.
And on my "to-read" pile...
- The Content Strategy Toolkit (2015) by Meghan Casey
- Conversational Design (2018) by Erika Hall
- Writing for Designers (2018) by Scott Kubie
- Leading Content Design (2022) by Rachel McConnell
- Content Strategy for Mobile (2012) by Karen McGrane
Design / growth / leadership books
- Leadership and Self-Deception (2000) by The Arbinger Institute
I’m fascinated by the extent to which we tend to deceive ourselves, so was naturally drawn to this intriguing volume.
- Rising Strong (2015) and Dare to Lead (2018) by Brené Brown
Books about being brave, trying, failing, rising again, dusting ourselves off, owning our stories — and helping others do the same.
- Quiet by Susan Cain (2012)
A fresh and intelligent look at the introvert/extrovert aspect of our personalities and the power of being, well, quiet.
- Creativity, Inc (2014) by Ed Catmull
Packed with insights about creating and maintaining a creative organization, written by a former president of Pixar.
- The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People (1989) by Stephen R. Covey
If you’ve never read this seminal book, do yourself a huge favour and go beg, borrow, or steal a copy today.
- The Tipping Point (2000) by Malcolm Gladwell
A very readable exploration into how some seemingly small things can lead to major change.
- David and Goliath (2013) by Malcolm Gladwell
A book about underdogs and the many areas of life in which reality is often counter-intuitive.
- Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together (1999) by William Isaacs
A thorough and fascinating study into how groups of people can learn to better collaborate together.
- Thinking, Fast and Slow (2011) by Daniel Kahneman
An exploration into the different modes of thinking ("fast" and "slow") and the cognitive biases associated with each.
- The Phoenix Project (2013) by G. Kim, K. Behr, and G. Spafford
A good portrayal of life inside a siloed IT department and what DevOps really has to offer.
- Sprint (2016) by Jake Knapp
How to approach opportunities and challenges by ideating, prototyping, testing, and getting feedback — all within 5 days.
- Freakonomics (2005) and SuperFreakonomics (2009) by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
Applying economic theories to some of life’s many riddles, such as why do drug dealers still live at home with their moms?
- The Design of Everyday Things (1988) by Don Norman
This book was way ahead of its time when it was published in 1988 and is still worth a read today.
- Factfulness (2018) by Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, and Anna Rosling Rönnlund
A fact-based, enlightening, and hope-filled book about what the world is really like.
- The Lean Startup (2011) by Eric Ries
I read this a couple of years ago and it has definitely had a huge impact on how I now approach any new venture.
- Eat that Frog! (2001) by Brian Tracy
A number of appraoches to help you stop procrastinating, prioritise what's important, and ultimately get more done.
- Leadership and the New Science (2006) by Margaret Wheatley
A book that challenges commonly-held perspectives on leadership, management, and how organizations best flourish.
And on my "to-read" pile...
- Getting Things Done (2001) by David Allen
- Made to Stick (2007) by Chip and Dan Heath
- The Laws of Simplicity (2006) by John Maeda
- Start with Why (2009) by Simon Sinek
There are so many novels that I love, but to prevent you scrolling for ever, I’ve limited myself to listing 25 here.
- Pride and Prejudice (1813) by Jane Austen
Classic will-they, won’t-they Regency romance novel, with great characters and perfectly plotted.
- Great Expectations (1860-61) by Charles Dickens
A brilliant coming-of-age tale about an orphan, an eccentric spinster, and her beautiful but cold adopted daughter.
- My Family and Other Animals (1956) by Gerald Durrell
The adventures of the young naturalist as he and his eccentric family moved from England to Corfu in the 1930s.
- Middlemarch (1871-72) by George Eliot
A sprawling novel about a fictional English town and the various interactions of its many inhabitants.
- The Great Gatsby (1925) by F. Scott Fitzgerald
A portrait of the Roaring Twenties, where unbounded riches, decadence, and idealism are forced, ultimately, to sober up.
- Tender is the Night (1934) by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby is Fitzgerald’s most famous work, but Tender is, I think, perhaps an even greater achievement.
- The Good Soldier (1915) by Ford Madox Ford
Another peculiarly English novel featuring an unreliable narrator and a treat of pioneering literary impressionism.
- Howards End (1910) by E. M. Forster
A brilliant novel exploring our desire to know and to be known — or as the epitaph puts it, to “Only connect”.
- The Magus (1965; revised 1977) by John Fowles
On a Greek island, a young man meets a wealthy and mysterious recluse and becomes embroiled in psychological games.
- Sophie’s World (1991) by Jostein Gaarder
A book that manages to be both a comprehensive introduction to Western philosophy and a gripping story.
- The Heart of the Matter (1948) by Graham Greene
The tale of Major Scobie in a West African collony during WW2 and a study on failure and the great price of pity.
- The Go-Between (1953) by L. P. Hartley
A very British coming-of-age novel, set at the end of the Victorian era, told through the eyes of a naïve schoolboy.
- The Remains of the Day (1989) by Kazuo Ishiguro
Another fine novel about the past told by an unreliable narrator — this time the butler of an English stately home.
- Atonement (2001) by Ian McEwan
Of all McEwan’s many fine novels, this is my firm favorite.
- Wolf Hall (2009) by Hilary Mantel
If you’re into historical fiction, you’ll love this — and if you’re not into historical fiction you will also love this!
- Under the Net (1954) by Iris Murdoch
A philosophical yet comic debut novel exploring love, work, wealth, fame, and meaning.
- Lolita (1955) by Vladimir Nabokov
Worth reading for the dazzling brilliance of the writing; one of the worlds greatest stylist at the height of his powers.
- The English Patient (1992) by Michael Ondaatje
A complex novel told by multiple charcters whose lives briefly overlap at an Italian villa duing the Secord World War.
- The Catcher in the Rye (1951) by J. D. Salinger
A critique on all that’s "phony" in society, told by 17-year-old Holden Caulfield; once read, never forgotten.
- East of Eden (1952) by John Steinbeck
An epic tale of two families living in the Salinas Valley in California at the beginning of the twentieth century.
- The Secret History (1992) by Donna Tartt
What becomes of six unusual and secretive classics students at a small, elite Vermont college.
- Anna Karenina (1878) by Leo Tolstoy
A complex, sprawling novel, with many memorable characters; often hailed as the greatest work of world literature.
- Brideshead Revisited (1945) by Evelyn Waugh
This novel has it all: youth, love, loss, faith, family, and a teddy bear named Aloysius.
- The Code of the Woosters (1938) by P. G. Wodehouse
A peculiarly British form of comedy, but I could happily read a Jeeves and Wooster novel any day of the year.
- To the Lighthouse (1927) by Virginia Woolf
Despite little dialogue and almost no action, this remains a fascinating, beautiful novel.
And on my "to-read" pile...
- Far too many novels to mention! 📚