Actionable Marketing Guide Summer Reading List

15 Books To Put In Your Beach Bag

Actionable Marketing Guide Summer Reading ListMost people think summer reading equals light reads.

Look around you and you’ll see beach disposable mysteries, love and escapist stories on many blankets (or smartphones!)

Like vacations, this type of book feels necessary to get out of your current reality and clear your mind.

I get it. You want to escape. I should know I used to sell these books!

On your way out to the Hamptons or favorite getaway, don’t just grab the latest bestseller in Hudson’s.

Instead view your summer reading as an investment in your future.

Instead use your reading to move closer to accomplishing your personal goals.

Carve out time to fill your mind with useful stuff.

Take a vacation from social media. Fight your FOMO! (aka Fear Of Missing Out).

Unplug and read.

Even better get an old fashioned print book. When I was in school, I loved that our local library allowed me to take out books for the whole summer. I had 8 full weeks to relish the book. It was good since I didn’t read very fast.

To get the full value of the book, you have to take time to take notes in the book or summarize then after you read them. The act of condensing the books helps to fix the lessons in your mind.

If you weren’t taught how to do this, check out Ryan Holiday’s article on how he tracks his reading.

Actionable Marketing Guide Summer Reading List

Here are the Actionable Marketing Guide’s recommendations for your summer reading.Actionable Marketing Guide Summer Reading List


Marketing books

While Professor Philip Kotler’s marketing book remains a classic, it’s still a textbook. For most readers, this translates to boring. Further, each update takes enough time to edit and manufacture that it’s not on the cutting edge when it’s new. 

Marketing evolves. Even when I’ve taught graduate classes, I’ve found many of the books don’t give a full view of how marketing works today. Done well, marketing is complex.
The challenge for most marketers is that their corporate peers feel they know how to market. This may or may not be true depending on the players.

A comprehensive list of marketing books would take you months to read. Instead, I’ve chosen 5 books that I believe will help inform your marketing activity.

  • Positioning the Battle for Your Mind, Trout and Ries. This slim book defined positioning. Every marketer should read it.
  • Influence by Robert Caldini. Ok. You got me. This one is still in my to-read pile. But it’s key to marketing since you need influence to market and sell products. It’s the grandfather of thinking in this category.
  • The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott. This is one of the early books on online marketing and social media. It’s worth your time as an overview. My students either loved it or found it too elementary.
  • The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell makes complex issues easy-to-understand. I consider it a marketing book because it’s useful since it explains how ideas gain traction. (Jonah Berger’s Contagious is also a good read on this topic.)
  • Made To Stick, Dan and Chip Heath. I love this book. It shows you how to make your ideas memorable.


Writing books

At the core of most marketing today, is the need to write and communicate well. For that reason, I think it’s important to include a few of my favorites.

  • Everyone Writes by Ann Handley. I didn’t believe it when Ann Handley confided in me when she was writing this easy-to-consume book on writing. But I’m eating my words. This book should be a must-read for high school and college students. Follow Handley’s advice and you’ll become a better writer.
  • On Writing by Stephen King. Love him or hate him, King is a master writer and storyteller. This book gives you an inside view on Stephen King’s views on writing and processes. It’s the kick in the pants most writers need.
  • The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. This book is a broader approach to creativity. If you follow its activities, you’ll learn ways to be more open to the creative process. For me, the morning pages are the biggest take away from this book.
    Basic Tool: Morning Pages from Julia Cameron on Vimeo.


Self improvement books

Let me be clear. I’m not a proponent of self-improvement books in general. I think that they’re a lot like candy. They seem good while you’re reading them but leave you unchanged. 

I’m sharing these books since I think that they make you think about how you live your life. They provide value to proactive readers who use their principles and make them their own.

  • Flow  by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. I read this book years ago and I keep going back to it. I love the core thesis: You get more satisfaction from setting goals and working to achieve them. The winners are the people who set high bars and achieve.
  • The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. I picked this book up in an airport. I was intrigued. I like that it made me understand how to create and change habits.
  • Getting Things Done by David Allen. This is the mother of all organization guides. At a minimum, read it to see what you can adapt and make your own. I bought this book when it first appeared in hardcover.
  • The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I put this book on this list since it’s another way of organizing your stuff and your mind. I heard about it via word of mouth from my knitting friends. I read it before I helped my mom get organized. It’s helped me (at least with the non-paper stuff.) Bonus: It’s a quick read.


Great books

I’m talking about the classics. They’re definitely not light reading but they’ve stood the test of time. If you want to improve your writing, you have to read widely. I’m in the process of improving my actions on this front.

St. John’s College built their curriculum around the 100 great books. (The University of Chicago did this to a lesser extent.) The good news is that most of them can be downloaded as ebooks for free.

BTW, I’m a big fan of Margaret Atwood (especially The Blind Assassin, a Booker winner), Salaman Rushdie (especially Midnight’s Children, the Booker of Bookers) and anything by Haruki Murakami.


Think-worthy emailings

If you prefer to take the Reader’s Digest condensed approach to reading, I suggest that you sign up for these 2 emailings:

  • Brain Picking This weekly Sunday email dips into a wide variety of books, often the classics. It gives you context for understanding the referenced books.
  • Ryan Holiday. Holmes has a monthly emailing delivering his take on his current reading. This guy has gotten reading down to a science. His tastes tend towards biographies and histories.


Print magazines

Yes, my husband still pays cold hard cash for the print editions of these 3 publications. While I don’t read them cover to cover the way he does, I like having them available.

  • The Economist. It’s a good round up and well written, thought provoking content on current events. It’s got a global view that’s a necessity in today’s world. Once you get accustomed to their writing style, you get their dry British sense of humor. (Disclaimer: I was the Marketing Director for their online division.)
  • The New Yorker. While the New Yorker has gotten slimmer over the years, it still offers amazing long form content. Even better, you get their cartoons.
  • The Week. A curation of the best in the traditional media. In addition, to their world, national news, they cover culture. My husband’s a fan of their crossword puzzle and sudoku. It’s the Reader’s Digest targeted at The Economist reader.


The Actionable Marketing Guide Summer Reading List bottom line:

Give your mind a vacation. Take a book along and read it.

Use the Actionable Marketing Guide summer reading list as a jumping off point. Find books on subjects that matter to you.

Taking a driving vacation, why not stop at a bookstore?

Also, don’t limit yourself to one content format.

Personally I like reading physical books.

That said, ebooks on a tablet or Kindle**  are great for traveling. My husband raves about the ability to use a Kindle on the beach in bright sunlight. (Kindles were developed for optimal reading experience.)

** Special offer: Get the all new Kindle E-Reader for only $79.99!

Audio books are another book consumption option. I love audio books for long car rides. They’re also great for multi-tasking especially working out at the gym.

Regardless of how you consume the content, just read.

We were all brought up to listen to other people’s voices.

What’s on your summer reading list?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on , Facebook and .
Editor’s note:  All book links and product links are affiliates.

Photo Credit: (c)2016 Heidi Cohen – 

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