Top marketers share their summer reading essentials

Written by: Sarah Vizard
Published on: 2 Aug 2016

Summer is in full swing, with holiday breaks providing a perfect opportunity for marketers to catch up on some reading. We asked some of the industry’s top marketers what titles are on their summer reading lists.


Helen Tupper
Head of marketing, Virgin Red

Marketing pick: How to Have a Good Day, by Caroline Webb

A very well researched book that makes sense of behavioural economics and psychology and provides practical tools to support personal development. Great for both individuals and leaders.

General: The Inevitable, by Kevin Kelly

If you’re interested in the next wave of technology and how it will change our lives, this book is for you. Kevin Kelly, one of the founders of Wired magazine, is world-renowned for his technology predictions and this might be as close as we get to future-gazing.

Tanya Joseph
Director of business partnerships, Sport England

Marketing pick: Prisoners of Geography, by Tim Marshall

While I haven’t got a specific marketing or business book to recommend I do have one I think fits the bill – Tim Marshall’s Prisoners of Geography: Ten maps that tell you everything you need to know about global politics. You can’t do business if you don’t understand the world. I am looking forward to reading this over the next few weeks to get to grips with some of the finer points of geopolitics.

General: The Fisherman, by Chigozie Obioma

For lighter reading I am going to be packing The Fisherman by Chigozie Obioma, which has been sitting beside my bed since Christmas and which I have been waiting patiently for a few days in the sun to read.


Mimi Turner
Marketing director, the Lad Bible

Marketing pick: Management in Ten Words, by Sir Terry Leahy

Sir Terry Leahy’s Management in Ten Words could just as well have been titled Management in Two Words, if those words were ‘customers’ and ‘process’ – the twin obsessions of the man who transformed Tesco from an unloved supermarket to the most buoyant retailer in Britain. Unshowy, puritanical and occasionally brutal in his approach, Leahy’s 2012 handbook offers few insights into his personal life. Instead, Leahy’s autobiographical canvas charts how marketing vision can be translated into operational success. Through HR, back-office, shelf-stacking and logistics, Leahy is a strategist with a mission to reform. Had he lived four centuries previously, he might have had a lot to chat about with Thomas Cromwell.

General: Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, by Hilary Mantel

As a case study of strategy and execution, nowhere are the shifts and purges of the boardroom more visceral than in Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and its sequel Bring Up The Bodies. The books chart Cromwell’s rise from underdog outsider to effective chief operating officer in the court of the court of Henry VIII. As all-powerful CEO, Henry sets strategic objectives (divorce Katherine, marry Anne, separate from Rome, take control of the church’s coffers, execute Anne), which fatally mangle pillars of his management team (exeunt Cardinal Wolsey and Thomas More). But the pragmatic Cromwell – powered by Henry’s largesse – deploys skill, tenacity and legal process to deliver on these blood-soaked KPIs. Despite his brutality Cromwell is not without a reforming vision of his own. Like Leahy, he itches to transform the nation for the better over time: “Look at any part of this kingdom and you will find dereliction, destitution. In a generation these people can learn to read. The ploughman can take up a book. Believe me, England can be otherwise.” He wasn’t wrong.

Paul Davies
Chief marketing officer, Microsoft

Marketing pick: Resonate, by Nancy Duarte

I’m not a business book junkie, as many of them can be dry and textbook-like. I need something really insightful to keep my short attention span at bay, which is precisely why I love Resonate. It is written in a practical, positive and accessible way with relevant case-studies from different media including film and music to illustrate some fascinating techniques. With storytelling at the top of every marketer’s agenda, it has never been more relevant to brush up on your skills, and Nancy’s book does just that. Highly recommended.


General: I’m Not With the Band, by Sylvia Patterson

This is top of my holiday reading list this year. It covers a period of music journalism in the 1980s and 1990s told from the front line of pop culture media. Sylvia has seen it all and done it all, and spills the beans in this biography. But far from being a frothy read (although there is much value to be had in sharing some of the more colourful stories across the sun-loungers), there are some dark undercurrents where real life interrupts her work, and closes with some incisive commentary about the state of media today in the digital age.


Sherilyn Shackell
CEO, The Marketing Academy

Marketing pick: Leadership and Self Deception, by Arbinger Institute

This book is the best kind of leadership self help manual. Short, easy to read and absolutely packed with gems of wisdom. I read it in one sitting five years ago and I can still quote from it. Amazing little book that will enable you to unlock your potential in ways you never thought possible.

General: Maverick, by Ricardo Semler

I first read this book over 15 years ago and it fundamentally transformed how I ran my business. It’s a fascinating autobiographical story, totally compelling and proof that true visionaries don’t all come from tech startups in silicon valley. That said, if Mark Zuckerberg hasn’t read it I’ll eat my hat!

Andrew Warner
VP of marketing, Monster

Marketing pick: Copy, Copy, Copy, by Mark Earls

Mark Earls is not just one of the finest fellows I’ve come across in the marketing industry, he also writes a damned good book. I’ve always been fascinated by how successful businesses and industries have evolved through taking what’s been done before and improving on it; the automotive and electronics industries of Japan and South Korea being contemporary examples. From Shakespeare to Great Ormond Street Hospital, in his latest book, Mark eloquently demonstrates with case studies and analysis how copying might be counter-intuitively the greatest engine of innovation.

General: The Rotters Club, by Jonathan Coe

While politics has been unpredictable of late, it hasn’t been a lot of fun. Set amid the industrial decline of 1970s Birmingham, The Rotters Club is a hilariously funny, entertaining romp, populated by engaging characters and laced with satirical political humour. It reminds us of an easily forgotten period of British history, yet one with more than a few parallels to today’s post-referendum Britain.

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