When the days are short, the nights are long, and work winds down for the festive season, there’s finally time to get into your onesie and snuggle up with a hot chocolate and a hefty, thought-provoking book.
Here at Copylab, we’re interested in a wide range of subjects, but we particularly like a book full of fresh inspiration about economics, finance or writing. This year, we’d also like to delve into the best ideas around content marketing. So here are some of the tomes we’d like to find under the tree.
Narrative Economics: How Stories Go viral and Drive Major Economic Events by Robert J Shiller, Princeton Uni Press RRP $27.95
Economies are made up of people, and stories are the way people make sense of all kinds of emotions and situations. Here, Nobel-Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller examines how viral stories can drive events, including booms and busts. Understanding the power of these stories could vastly improve our ability to predict, prepare for, and lessen the damage of major economic events.
Good Economics for Hard Times by Abhijit V Banerjee and Esther Duflo, Allen Lane RRP £25
Can economic measures alleviate poverty? Lower global inequality? Solve the biggest questions of the day, from immigration to trade wars and climate change? The economists who won the 2019 Nobel Prize believe the answers to all these questions are yes, which makes the book one of the ‘must reads’ of the year.
Extreme Economies by Richard Davies, Bantam Press RRP £20
Promising a fresh perspective on modern economies, Davies’ observations come from the places where economic activity is thriving in the margins, such as disaster zones, rainforest communities and failed states. The world’s most entrepreneurial refugee camp and a Louisiana jail are just two of the places he studies, with the aim of offering readers gritty, grassroots lessons about markets and what causes them to function and to fail.
Equal: A Story of Women, Men and Money by Carrie Gracie, Virago £18.99
This is the story of the struggle for equal pay at the BBC. It’s written by Carrie Grace, the China editor, who resigned when she realised how little she was being paid compared to male counterparts in similar positions. She didn’t make the list of those earning over £150,000, whereas the US editor was taking in a salary of over £230,000. The gender pay gap is all too real, and Carrie examines how it makes women feel and behave at work, while considering what can be done about it.
Dreyer’s English: an utterly correct guide to clarity and style by Benjamin Dreyer, Century £12.99
Benjamin Dreyer is the copy chief at Random House, and he’s one of Twitter’s leading language gurus. He wants us to write and he wants us to write well. Yes, this is a style and a grammar guide, but it’s done with panache, humour and wisdom. As Mr Dreyer is the editor who has overseen the writing of Michael Chabon, EL Doctorow and many others, there is so much to learn from him about raising your writing game. And happily, although the author is American, there is a UK-English edition.
The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells, Penguin £20
2019 has been the year of child climate activists, spearheaded by Greta Thunberg. Both governments and big companies are now coming under increasing pressured to take action on global warming. This book by New York Magazine’s climate columnist is not a comfortable read. The author makes the argument that there is no time to waste, as just around the corner are food shortages, forest fires, irreversible environmental damage, refugee emergencies, and dramatic political change. It’s a clarion call to action.
We Need New Stories by Nesrine Malik, Weidenfield & Nicolson £16.99
Political correctness is ‘out of control’, free speech is under threat, the politics of identity is undermining the drive for equality, England was once a glorious empire – these are all widely held opinions that are closely examined by journalist Malik. She argues that new voices and new stories are needed that can challenge ‘the toxic myths behind our age of discontent’ and create a new frame of reference.
How To Fail by Elizabeth Day, (April 2020) 4th Estate RRP £12.99
Following on from the success of her How to Fail podcast, in which important people are asked to share three experiences where they failed, journalist Day has now written a book on the same topic. Drawing on her own experiences, how to fail at dating, at sport, at IVF, and at living like Gwyneth Paltrow are among the topics covered. The message is how to learn from a humbling, even humiliating, experience, so you can pick yourself up and start anew. Day believes we need to accept failure and rejection as simply facts of life and learn how to move on.
Invisible Women: Exposing data bias in a world designed for men by Caroline Criado Perez, Chatto & Windus, RRP £16.99
Perez is the feminist activist who campaigned successfully for female faces on UK banknotes. In this book, she reveals her startling findings on the ‘gender data gap’ – the fact that most data is based on men’s experiences. For example: medicines have been found to work differently on women because they weren’t involved in the trialling. Women are 47% more likely to be seriously injured in a car accident because safety features were designed for men. Heart attack symptoms in women are often missed because we’re taught what to look for in men. There are certainly lessons here for the male-dominated finance industry, which continues to focus on male career trajectories and leaves untapped the potential of getting women to invest.
Faster, Smarter, Louder by Aaron Agius and Gian Clancey, Lioncrest £13.50
The title is brash and catchy, so too is the promise that this book will help the reader to ‘master attention in a noisy digital market’. Agius and Clancey run an agency that went from being a two-person start up to a global leader in digital marketing. The many lessons learned from the success of the agency, Online:Louder, are passed on in this book. The chapter headings are pretty catchy too, from the somewhat sinister ‘Total conversion of the mind’ to ‘We think you’re delightful!’
F*CK Content Marketing by Randy Frisch, Lioncrest £18.99
Another brash title, another Lioncrest ‘how to’ book, but this one is worth a look. Randy Frisch dares to call a halt to most of the content being spewed out by companies all over the globe. He cites the statistic that 60–70% of all content goes unused. So the focus of the book is how to produce much higher quality and personalised content and how to use it to gain the attention of every relevant reader. Personalising but at scale – that’s the challenge facing every content producer. How to make it personal for thousands of readers? Frisch has many interesting ideas.
Reset by David Sawyer, Zude PR Publishing, £9.99
As it’s almost time for New Year’s resolutions, we’re including a book that’s squarely aimed at ‘midlife careerists’ and offers a way to ‘restart your life and get FU money’. Glasgow-based PR man Sawyer took dramatic action to change his career, his health and his finances at the typical early-40s, midlife-crisis mark. Packed full of advice from his own journey, Reset is an interesting read. Although it draws on much advice already out there from the financially independent, retire early (FIRE) movement, de-cluttering guru Marie Kondo, and other well-known self-helpers, Reset is still a fresh take. Many ‘midlifers’ would benefit from the detailed chapters on digitally skilling up to future-proof your career.