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BOOK LIST 2019
Adam Morgan, Executive Creative Director, Adobe
I love reading other people’s booklists. Especially
when the topic of the list relates to my world. If I see
something I like, I add it to my own list. I figured it’s
time to stop being stingy and share my list as well.
I’ll separate the books out by a few subtopics such as
advertising, creativity, and writing. I also included
images of the book covers for visual reference. Enjoy.
Each chapter shares a completely
different way to look at
storytelling. Like printing your
book on hundreds of surfaces,
including a swimming pool floor,
so that others can piece together
the pages. Fun read.
To be honest, I’m not a fan of King’s
stories and discovery writing style.
But his book on writing is amazing.
Reading how he thinks about the
craft makes me want to like his
books. A must read.
The depth I learned about
understanding and creating
characters is beyond valuable.
I even created a two-page character
template based on all the insights
she gives us. If you are writing
fiction, you need to absorb this one.
We hear about first learning the
rules before we can break them.
This book gives you the classic
writing rules that stand the test of
time. When I started in the mid
90’s, this was required reading for
copywriters in my agency.
A journalistic approach to
understanding famous stories.
So interesting and insightful.
This isn’t an official book from
Pixar (as the lamp image makes
obvious) but he does break apart
all the great things about Pixar
stories. And explains the reasons
why. I learned a few great insights
and worth the short read.
I found this book recommended by
an employee at an Amazon store in
NYC. Another book that lists all the
good rules you must know before
you break any of them.
A friend of mine at work holds
this book in a place of reverence.
Because it changed her writing
life for good. It will help you find
your muse and build confidence
in your writing style.
Even though this is about
screenwriting, the ideas he teaches
about high-concept scripts are just
as valuable for fiction writers.
Required reading for screenwriters.
Same for fiction and copywriters.
One of my all time favorite books.
I’m a huge Pixar fan, and Ed does a
fantastic job describing how to
build creative environments, how
to defend ideas, and how to bring
people together. So good. Please
read this one if you haven’t already.
Chase has built an empire with
CreativeLive. Love his podcast and
videos. His book just came out
months ago. It’s a feel-good book
to motivate you to be more
creative. Huge fan.
Another new book, this proves that
creativity isn’t a talent you are born
with, but everyone can learn to do
better. It’s a learned ability.
Daniel gives us a great perspective
on how creative careers are going
to be the major driver of growth in
the future. So many great quotes
from this book. Great for creative
leaders to understand the
One of the three main types of
creativity is blending new and
old ideas. This book explores
how we can steal the good and
add in our own flavor to make
great new things. His email
newsletter is also worth it.
Douglass helps creative people talk
to business people, and vice versa.
Because we speak two different
languages. At Adobe we call this
“talking khaki” when you learn to
speak to business leaders. This
book is valuable to both sides.
Scott believes in creativity. But if
you don’t do anything with your
ideas, you’re missing out. His
advice helps creative people
overcome the challenges and get
more great ideas out in the world.
This book literally jump started my
career back in 1995. From the
moment I read it, I have become a
much faster and better idea
generator. Half the book includes
exercises that will increase your
speed at coming up with ideas. If I
taught a creativity class, this would
be required reading.
From my experience, most creative
people have side projects. Chris has
great guidance on how to turn
those passion projects into income.
And I’m fascinated by the fact that
he has visited every country in the
world. His blog has great tips on
world travel, as you can imagine.
Yes, it’s probably lame that I have
my own book on my booklist. But
this book was written so I could
prove the value of creativity to my
clients originally. Now I’m just
sharing my 5-year epic quest so you
have the ammo to prove it to your
clients and company leadership.
It really is a classic guide. At least
for any copywriters who work in
advertising agencies or in-house
creative departments. Good
guidance on the writer/designer
partnership. And big ideas.
This reads like a novel, with a
journalistic, behind-the-scenes look
at an advertising pitch for the
Subaru account, along with the
journey to get a TV spot produced.
Funny and insightful for the
Alex is one of the big names for
creativity in the ad agency world.
This book is all about making sure
the big campaign idea is baked into
the product, so that the idea isn’t
creative for creative’s sake.
This is a great view into creating an
agency. My favorite story is when
they put a fake sign in the lobby of
a different company and met clients
in the lobby. The clients thought
that all the people behind them
worked for their agency. But they
had only two employees. HA.
Mayle’s other book about living
in the French countryside is
similar. Except this is an insider’s
view of agency life. A bit older,
but still rings true.
For a few years, account planning
was the secret weapon for agency
new business pitches. Great book
to understand the fuzzy line
between really knowing your
audience and creative ideas that
connect with them.
I love this book. It’s out of print and
hard to find. Not written by Bill, but
by others who worked with him
and wrote down his quotes. My
favorite is the idea that we are so
busy measuring public opinion, we
forget we can create it. Here’s to
the father of creative advertising.
If I had to pick two books about
management and leadership, I
would combine this with Radical
Candor for the ideal duo. Also, I
became a fan of Simon with the
golden circle, but this book has
great insights in how to create the
ideal environment for growth.
This book gives stellar guidance on
how to give good feedback, how to
build trust, and how to keep an
open dialogue with your team. The
example about Bob is solid, as are
the descriptions of the four types of
management. Great for new and
Vanessa is a student of how people
behave and her insights are
fantastic. I use the insights to
engage with others in both a work
environment and social settings.
Her website has a ton of great
videos and insight as well.
Another creative director and I
always argue over this point… how
much we should be an essentialist
vs being responsive to others and
well rounded. To join the debate,
first read this book.
While Jim writes more like a
researcher than a storyteller, the
principles to leadership here are
fantastic. Get the right people on
the bus. And learn the
characteristics of great leadership.
Public speaking and presentations
are a huge part of our industry. This
is an older book, but the principles
on public speaking are still relevant.
This book will help you make better
presentations. Kenny and the team
at his agency live these principles.
Great insights and great people.
Erik studied thousands of ads to
figure out what matters most. 30 or
60-second video? Long or short
format? Visual or motion? The
single thing that mattered the
most, far above the rest, was if the
advertisement was liked.
Also an older book, but the point
about how ideas can disrupt the
market is stellar. This helps explain
the vision that agencies have
around big ideas and campaigns.
I still quote moments from Made to
Stick, but the Power of Moments is
so helpful in the world of creating
amazing customer experiences.
These both give insights into how
you can create better experiences
and what you should focus on first.
Written by a different Adam
Morgan, this book is all about
strategies to stand out from the
market leader. That’s why my book
is by Adam W Morgan. HA.
Understanding a customer first
approach is critical today. This is
required reading for many at my
company. People first. Not product
first. More need to grasp this concept.
Yes Seth has written many great
books. This was the first one I read.
And it was a photo copy of the
book. Which is perfectly in line with
his theme of someone sharing ideas.
Any marketing strategist needs to
read positioning to really
understand how to create new
categories or reposition a brand.
The 22 laws is like a Cliff’s notes
version of positioning.
Long before B2E or other terms to
humanize technology, Bryan wrote
this great book to establish
stronger connections to customers.
I found Shane on a video from
CreativeLive. Been following
ever since. This book has great
stories and good insights on
how to work in a better way.
I made my son at college read it.
You should read it, too.
Even though Jonah was destroyed
over a quote controversy, the ideas
in this book are still awesome. He
digs into the science behind
creativity and I really enjoyed it.
So many good insights.
Ken digs deep into our educational
system and shows how we need to
overhaul it. He discusses how we
can go back to when we were kids
and everyone thought they were
creative. Rather than think we are
no longer capable. He has a few
great videos on YouTube as well.
Yes it’s a neuroscience book and
it’s deep. But I really learned a lot
about how we think, our two
systems, and all my biases. Plus it’s
the only book on this list to win a
Nobel Prize, so, you know.
While I don’t totally agree with all
of Ramit’s beliefs on money, I think
he is a very interesting person. His
newsletter emails are great, and his
side hustle classes. I’ve been
following him for years, and really
enjoy his whole program.
Another neuroscience book. Love
the chapter on the team of rivals.
The best explanation why A.I. will
never take over and destroy us.
Because the way our brains work is
not linear. Great storytelling.
Malcolm is so interesting to read.
And his Revisionist History podcast
is worth a listen. This book is better
as an audio book, as it includes the
actual interviews for parts of the
stories. He has many other great
books, but this is great for
managers. And his masterclass is
also worth getting.