Seeker Selects: Our Favourite Books For Business & Pleasure

04 March 2021

Posted in: Agency Culture

The Seeker team are a regular bunch of bookworms, and with our usual haunts closed during lockdown, we’ve all had a lot more time to get through that stack of paperbacks sitting next to our bed.

So what better time to wax lyrical about our favourite books than World Book Day?

To mark the occasion, the Seeker team have shared their treasured books — some for business, some for pleasure — and explained why they love them so much.

From SEO basics and copywriting essentials to Fleet Street exposés and pistol-wielding, Nazi-hunting monkeys (yes, really), here are the best books around, as recommended by Seeker.

Everybody Writes — Ann Handley

“Ann Handley adopts an accessible approach to copywriting, positing that everyone can be a better writer. She breaks down the rules of good content (and when to break them) for everything from blogs to emails in a simple, easy-to-understand way. Essential reading for any copywriter.” — Elliot, Senior Copywriter

Never Split The Difference — Chris Voss

“Entrepreneur, writer, and academic are fairly typical careers related to outreach and SEO. But former FBI hostage negotiator? Less so! Never Split The Difference is all about the art of negotiation in everyday life, making it a must-read for anyone working in outreach and link building.

“If you want to win links through outreach, you need strong relationships with your prospects. Voss’ book provides lots of practical techniques for everyday life that can be directly applied to your link building campaigns. Highly recommended!” — Laura, Head of Outreach

Why We Get The Wrong Politicians — Isabel Hardman

“Whilst not directly related to my line of work now, I started my journey as a wannabe journalist! I love this book and how it examines the reasons why we get politicians who are sometimes just absolutely crap.” — Tilly, Campaign Executive

Norwegian Wood — Haruki Murakami

“Following Toru Watanabe through his student days in Tokyo, Norwegian Wood is a grippingly intense jumping-off point to Haruki Murakami’s poetic writing and the wonderfully weird worlds he creates. Inspired by the psychedelic Beatles song of the same name, this rollercoaster of a story is my go-to for any book nomination.” — Charlie, Junior Copywriter

The Anatomy of Humbug — Paul Feldwick

“Working in digital, it’s easy to get distracted by the shiny new tool that’s going to change the face of marketing. But there’s one thing that never changes about advertising: people. The Anatomy of Humbug draws on influential marketing ideas, principles, and models to illustrate that the way people think and react to advertising has changed very little in 100 years.

“Reading this book taught me that we shouldn’t disregard techniques perfected by traditional marketers and master copywriters. If progress is about standing on the shoulders of giants, looking to the past to shape how you think about marketing in the here and now is a great idea. And best of all, unlike a lot of marketing or copywriting books that I have read, The Anatomy of Humbug‘s message is woven into a narrative that is engaging and easy to read.” — Stevie, Content Manager

A Confederacy of Dunces — John Kennedy Toole

“The only book I’ve read that made me truly LOL. It’s smart, acerbic and brilliantly written. I’ve bought it for several people and each time the shop assistant has told me it’s a brilliant novel, one of their favourites. There’s also a sad story behind it. The author tried unsuccessfully to get the novel published and was rejected at every turn. This led him to take his own life at just 31. The book was published 11 years after Toole’s death and earned him a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.” — Damo, Senior Copywriter

Capitalist Realism — Mark Fisher

“Poignant, depressing and absolutely essential reading for modern times. Fisher’s essay on our political, economic and societal structures and the malaise they place over all of us only becomes more important with each passing year. The concept of hauntology fascinates me, as it will anyone wondering if not just the future, but the present, could be something so much more.” — Jon, Digital Copywriter

The Great Gatsby — F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Oh God, where to start with picking a favourite book? I have too many that I love. Fave authors are Fredrik Backman (lovely Swedish author who writes about humans and our relationships so beautifully, he can make you cry on one page and laugh out loud on the next) and Jean Rhys (devastatingly maudlin, really resonated with my romantic university self)… Recent books that I have looooooooved and would recommend to everyone: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (gorgeous) and The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman (don’t care that I’m jumping on the bandwagon, it’s a stonker of a read).

“I think the book that has personally most made a difference to me is The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Probably the first novel where I really noticed the beauty of the writing, and realised that writing could be beautiful. Really, I shouldn’t love it — everyone in the book is awful, I don’t identify with or even like the protagonist, it doesn’t have a happy ending, and it didn’t make me cry (these are all things I typically look for in a book). But it’s just such a stunningly written novel — all dazzling Jazz Age hedonism, tragedy and destruction. I’ve read it countless times over the years in different stages of my life, and each time I find some new piece of brilliance, a line or a description here or there, that I hadn’t noticed before.” — Bethan, Content Executive

Ack-Ack Macaque — Gareth L. Powell

Ack-Ack Macaque is a pistol-wielding monkey. He flies a Spitfire and is an alcoholic foul mouth with a penchant for cigars and killing Nazis. Oh, and there are nuclear-powered zeppelins, ninjas, secret plots to kill the monarchy, artificial intelligence, larger-than-life villains, and evil corporations. Yes, this near-future steampunk gem really does pack a lot into its two-hundred-and-something pages. You’re welcome!” — Stevie, Content Manager

How To Fail — Elizabeth Day

“I have SO many favourite books (including a whole lot of Jane Austen), so it was hard to choose! However, I chose this one because it offered support at a time when it was really needed and gave me laughter, wisdom, and a sense of relief. 

“Elizabeth Day reflects on her failures, from career failures to the failure to have a child. It is open and honest, and offers some reassurance that we all fail sometimes with the added reminder that failure has to happen for us to embrace success.” — Tilly, Campaign Executive

Good Vibes, Good Life: How Self Love is the Key to Unlocking Your Greatness — Vex King

“Working in an industry like SEO, there are some big personalities who you look up to, and it’s natural to measure yourself to their standards or get a sense of imposter syndrome (especially in a COVID era). This book was gifted to me by one of my friends, and an old mentor of mine, when I left my last job and moved onto my role at Seeker. It’s a real eye-opening read that can help pull you out of your negative mindset and recondition your thoughts to be kinder to yourself and inspire more constructive thinking.” — Jas, Campaign Manager

A Little Life — Hanya Yanighara

“Easily the best book I’ve ever read. Following the lives of four friends as they graduate college together and begin their journey into adulthood, A Little Life is a touching, affirming, but frequently harrowing, chronicle of the human condition, with all its ecstatic highs, crushing lows, and everything in-between. Yanagihara has an uncanny insight into what it means to be human, and writes beautifully but with a rawness that will leave you feeling shattered by the time you finish. I cannot recommend this book enough.” — Elliot, Senior Copywriter

The Classic Fairy Tales — Maria Tartar

“This is a classic book that focuses on the six core types of fairytales (like Little Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard and Cinderella), looking at the original fairy tales and all of the different variations of them from around the world.

“I am a fairytale literature nerd — I specialised in it at university and wrote plenty of theses on it — and I am a sucker for the theory of adaptation, and how written and spoken word have transitioned over the years. I’m just fascinated by this culture and how people have critiqued and interrogated the different aspects of these tales, from exploring their social origins, historical evolution, psychological dynamics, and even the engagement with issues of gender and national identity.” — Laura, Head of Outreach

Brilliant Copywriting — Roger Horberry

“I’ll be honest, I have a whole range of marketing and copywriting books at home that I nicked from the Seeker Digital library when I first joined the agency. And while I could have picked any one of those classic marketing or business books that everyone talks about, I’m going to choose one that hardly ever makes it onto the listicles: Brilliant Copywriting by Roger Horberry. 

“I was lent this book when I first became a copywriter (still haven’t given it back, sorry Kayleigh) and honestly, it’s probably the one that resonated with me the most. Being completely new to the industry, there was so much to learn — not just about writing, but about SEO, digital marketing, and all sorts — and the sheer amount of information and reading recommendations felt pretty overwhelming. Brilliant Copywriting helped to simplify things, providing actionable tips and tangible advice for writing exciting and persuasive copy.” — Bethan, Content Executive

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking — Susan Cain

“This book explores the differences between introverts and extroverts, underpinned by scientific studies, from the viewpoint that modern culture and business is built for extroverted personalities. It was an eye-opening read for me, and helped me to get a grasp on my own strengths and build my confidence. Recommended read for anyone who has ever struggled to navigate their personality socially!” — Becky J, SEO Executive

The 5 P Approach to Copy that Crushes It — Copyblogger Media

“I’ll start by saying this is a 43-page ebook. However, despite the short length, it contains some brilliant tips on how to write marketing copy. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who wants to create content that sells, rather than simply lights up the page with a clever turn of phrase. And what is the Five P Approach? Premise, Promise, Picture, Proof, Push!” — Damo, Senior Copywriter

Kitchen Confidential — Anthony Bourdain

“I have always loved watching Anthony Bourdain’s TV shows, but then I was introduced to his book, and wow, I just love the way it is written — it is rude, witty and informative. It reminds you how wonderful food is, how great restaurants are (ughhhh lockdown) and opens your eyes to what goes on behind the scenes.” — Becs, Office Manager

Flat Earth News — Nick Davies

“It’s easy to think new media and social media have made traditional platforms obsolete, but newspapers and broadcast journalism are just as integral to our consumption of media as ever. Flat Earth News is one of the most important books for understanding how the media world operates. Less of a guide for aspiring journalists and PR professions and more of a warning of the dangers of the profession, Flat Earth News stands as a mapping of the journalism landscape that anyone even slightly in contact with the industry should read.” — Jon, Digital Copywriter

What I Loved — Siri Hustvedt

“My all time favourite book would have to be The Great Gatsby — I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read it. I love how it captures all the excitement and spectacle of the Jazz Age, but also the sadness and disillusionment of the time. It’s beautifully written and I find new meanings and favourite quotes each time I go back to it.

“A more recent favourite book is What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt. It covers the friendships of two men and their families over the course of 25 years. It’s both subtle and dramatic. On one hand, it’s a quiet insight into their everyday life, but at the same time it’s driven by mystery and suspense with some really heartbreaking tragedies.” — Verity, Digital Copywriter

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck — Mark Manson

“Perspective-changing. Helped me to focus on the things that really matter in life.” — Daisy, Campaign Executive

There are enough recommendations here to start a small library — and these are just a few of our favourites. Happy World Book Day everyone — bookworms unite!

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