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Fox Agency’s favourite pieces of literature

Posted by: Sam Brewin on 15 August 2019

Imagination and ideas are key to any creative endeavour – B2B marketing included – and literary wellsprings are one of the best ways to cultivate interesting, inventive thought. Foxes are just as partial to a well-written yarn as the next person, so if you’re looking for a new book to unleash your mind’s eye, here are some of the team’s favourite pieces of literature.

Al – A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

I don’t believe in reading books twice as there are too many others out there just waiting to be discovered. But for this cult classic, I made an exception. Based around an incredible character and based in a colourful 1960s New Orleans, it’s hilarious and brilliantly written. Tragically the author committed suicide after the manuscript was repeatedly rejected, but his mother went on to get the book published 11 years after his death. I’m so glad she did.

Jonathan – The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Programme to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence and Happiness by Professor Steve Peters

I know what your thinking – self-help book. And it kind of is in a way, but it’s much more than that!

This book really helped me look at life in a completely different way. Instead of getting angry, annoyed and frustrated with the little things that life throws at you, it helps you stop, think and access how not to let these things bring me down and how best to tackle annoying situations.

It’s based on the idea of your brain containing a chimp and a human, constantly fighting one another. The book teaches you to not let the chimp take over and force your mindset to become negative. Instead, always try to be positive. Just like one of the points from David Crawford’s workshop [check out the Fox blog soon for more on that]: once you’re in a negative state of mind, it’s harder to snap out of it than to remain positive. Negativity breeds negativity.

Anyway, there are many techniques in the book which help you really think about the way to tackle all the nasty anxieties we face every day, so much so I’m on my third read-through!

Sam – Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

I read this during a fortnight spent in Cuba last year – the first novel I’d read since school. Safe to say, it was an exquisite reintroduction.

Set in an unnamed South American port town transitioning the 19th and 20th centuries, Love in the Time of Cholera charts the lives of a couple who, after an impassioned, whirlwind romance in their youth, depart on two completely contrasting romantic paths. Examining love in all its forms, from the beautiful to the sickening, García Márquez’s warm, playful yet deconstructive style is gripping, tricking the reader into feeling great sympathy even for characters performing truly dark and obscene acts… it can be a bit of a mind-bender!

The author’s sultry and rich description of the story’s tropical Latin setting is mesmerising too – I totally recommend reading it while on holiday in a Latin country.

Laura – Alchemy: The surprising power of ideas that don’t make sense by Rory Sutherland

If you’re fascinated by how illogically the human brain works, then you’ll really enjoy the wisdom Rory imparts. Peppered with wit (who knew footnotes could be so funny?), every odd human behaviour explored has an anecdote to support it. Trust me, it’ll be a lot harder to accept things at face value after reading this.

Lisa – Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

This book is based on a true story about an armed robber and heroin addict who escaped from Australia to India to live in a Bombay slum where he established a free health clinic, got involved in money laundering and forgery, acted in Bollywood and fell in love. It’s a tale of humanity, adventure, love and morals and makes you feel like you are actually in Bombay, with its beautifully colourful descriptions of the city’s sounds, smells, sights and personality.

It’s also packed full of inspirational quotes, for example: “Some feelings sink so deep into the heart that only loneliness can help you find them again. Some truths are so painful that only shame can help you live with them. Some things are so sad that only your soul can do the crying for them.”

I adore this book and I guarantee if you read it you will want to go to Bombay/Mumbai.

Nelson – The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith

Of course, I have lots of favourites, but today I’ll say The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith. It was written in the 1890s, but it feels sort of modern – some things don’t change! It’s all extremely funny, and it arguably features the first annoying millennial (who also has a great name – Lupin).

Hannah – Watership Down by Richard Adams

Yes, the book about the rabbits. And no, it is not just because I am an animal lover. What is interesting is the story is even more reflective of today and how we are behaving as humans than it was when it was written. It is such a simple concept, showing life through the perspective of something or someone else, and here, that something else is a rabbit living alongside humans. You put the book down and you begin to think, or at least you should, how many homes have we destroyed building that new supermarket, how many families have we affected just from building a new road – the whole idea of realising that our actions have consequences to others. In my opinion, a book that isn’t thought-provoking isn’t worth being read, and this one certainly got me questioning a fair few things.

Mary – Selfish by Kim Kardashian

It could be viewed as a slap in the face to anyone who has ever hoped to be a professional photographer, the nail in the coffin for photography books and a trivial work of pure vanity. Or, if you choose to, you could look at it as the apex of society’s obsession with celebrity and how social media has empowered individuals (arguably with no obvious talent) to build empires so strong and unwavering they can make millions off simple pictures of their own face (or at least rake in #gifted products).

I got a signed copy for my 24th birthday as an ode to an inside joke that I’m ‘the Kim of the family’ and it’s quite honestly one of the standout books in my personal library. Needless to say, I’m quite fond of social media. I find it fascinating how in such a relatively short amount of time it’s integrated itself so thoroughly into our day-to-day lives, and there is no better social media marketer than Kim Kardashian.

Ben – Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre

Vernon God Little is a satirical view of America set against the backdrop of a high school shooting in Texas, exploring the US’ blame culture and the power of live TV and the media. It tells the story of troubled teenager Vernon God Little as he deals with the aftermath of the shooting and the local community’s insatiable desire to place the blame.

As serious as it sounds, the book is hilarious and, in my opinion, would make an amazing movie – I can’t believe it’s not been made yet!

 

Fancy sharing your own favourite reads with the team? You’ll have to come work here first – check out our job openings on the blog, or contact us with a CV and cover letter.

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