Content Marketing

5 Books That Should Be on Every Content Strategist’s Holiday Wish List

During my career working as a journalist and content strategist, I’ve found that the most valuable and enlightening thing I can do is get inside the head of someone way smarter than me. One-on-one interviews let you do that. Fireside chats at conferences let you do that. Belligerent late 4 AM heart-to-hearts at South By Southwest let you do that. And books let you do that.

With the brand publishing arms race fully underway, it’s no surprise that a wave of brand publishing advice books are flooding the nonfiction market, or that Gary Vaynerchuck’s “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World” has topped the New York Times Best Seller list. It’s a must-read, but it isn’t the only must-read this holiday season. Check out our not-at-all-definitive top 5 list:


1) “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World,” by Gary Vaynerchuck

Let’s be honest: A lot of the social media “thought leadership” out there is total hooey. Gary V, however, speaks the truth. “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” is immensely entertaining and his take on social storytelling is enlightening. His big message: You need to tell stories native to social platforms in a very human way. I hesitate to even call it a marketing book because it doesn’t feel like a marketing book at all. Let’s put it this way: It’s that rare marketing book that you can read on the beach.


2) “The Medium is the Massage,” by Marshall McLuhan

Vaynerchuck owes a lot of his ideas to infamous media analyst Marshall McLuhan and his 1967 book, “The Medium is the Massage.” McLuhan argued that the technologies and mediums through which we tell stories are actually the messages  themselves. In today’s world rich with storytelling platforms, it’s as relevant as ever.

Bonus fact: The title was a mistake. It was originally supposed to be “The Medium is the Message,” but the typesetter messed it up. “The medium is the message” had become a huge cliché, though, and McLuhan loved the new title. Guess I better start working on my new book, “Content is Kind.”


3) “The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human, by Jonathan Gottschall

As humans, we’re storytelling creatures. Stories teach us how to live; they bring us together; they string together our waking thoughts. At Contently, “The Storytelling Animal” serves as the foundation of our belief in the power of great stories, and we highly recommend it to everyone and anyone.


4) “Your Brand, The Next Media Company: How a Social Business Strategy Enables Better Content, Smarter Marketing, and Deeper Customer Relationships,” by Michael Brito3

Most every brand nowadays wants to become a media company, but no one seems to know how to do it. Brito, a veteran of branded media campaigns, has seen the fundamental shifts that you need to make in order to complete that transformation. For more, check out our interview with the author.


5) “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again,” by David Foster Wallace4

Nobody tells stories quite like David Foster Wallace. “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again” is one of the best combinations of complex analysis, hilarious reporting, and breathtaking storytelling ever assembled. The title essay, detailing Foster Wallace’s absurd week aboard a cruise ship, will leave you in awe.



What’s the deal with the Content Strategist? At Contently, storytelling is the only marketing we do, and it works wonders. It could for you, too. Learn more.

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