A Content Strategist’s Guide to Reading

I’d come across a very illuminating post by Martin Weigel, Head of Planning at W+K, Amsterdam, in which he lists some essential reads for account planners. Talking about how reading helps us in diversifying the possibilities and resources (intellectual and emotional) we have at our disposal, Martin cites the painter Paul Klee, who said:

“You adapt yourself to the contents of the paintbox”

The metaphorical paintbox here, alludes to our mind — or our intellect, which certainly expands as we read more, and choose to read that which teaches us mastery of our own domain, as well as that which cultivates an interest in other domains.

Going through the post made me realise how much I wanted to compile something similar, for content strategists. Because, let’s face it — reading, is essential, yes? Besides expanding our ‘paint-box’ of intellect, it also nourishes our soul and lifts the spirit. It keeps us curious. The more we read, the more enhanced our ability to process intellectual stimuli and connect dots in different, lateral ways. No surprises, therefore, that most creative thinkers are also well read.

So, after carefully going through Martin’s proposed structure and hours of research (fun-research, I’m not complaining!), I propose the following types of reading that every content strategist should consider:

  1. That which grounds us in the basics of our craft
  2. That which focuses on the fundamentals of our domain
  3. That which grounds us in the basics of design

The first, is important because I strongly feel that there is nothing above our craft, which is to write and create meaningful content. The second, takes us through the basics of our domain. The third, is important because as Content Strategists, we should have a keen design-sense as well.

That which grounds us in the basics of our craft

Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit

Edward De Bono, Lateral Thinking

Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Stephen King, On Writing

Pete Barry, The Advertising Concept Book

That which focuses on the fundamentals of our domain

Kristina Halvorson & Melissa Rach, Content Strategy for The Web

Ann Handley, Everybody Writes

Ginny Redish, Letting Go of the Words

Colleen Jones, Clout

There’s actually tons of great resources out there for domain-specific reading. I’ll be posting again on some more of my personal favorites.

That which grounds us in the basics of design

Nancy Duarte, Slide:ology : The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations

Garr Reynolds, Presentation Zen Design

Robin P. Williams, The Non Designer’s Design Book

I sincerely hope that this list is helpful to you. If you’d like to share some ideas on what to read for content strategists, be sure to leave a comment — would love to hear from you!