A slightly European feel to this month’s copywriter reading list…

Though, that said, we do end on an Israeli American Psychologist!

So, without further ado…

Here are my picks for this month:

The Gardener of Ochakov by Andrey Kurkov

I really like this guy’s books.

In fact, I’ve been reading him ever since his first book was available in translation – Death and the Penguin.

Since then he’s written about five or six more novels and each one delivers a tight yet relaxed story that you’ll find yourself reading very quickly and very easily.

From a copywriting point of view, I’m always intrigued by books like this. What makes them so easy to read? What helps the flow?

The language is unfussy. The chapters are tight, each dealing with a single element of the story. The structure of the sentences and paragraphs is simplistic…

All things you should aim for in your copy too.

As for the story itself, this new instalment from Kurkov has a bit of time-travel, a bit of crime and a peppering of eastern European culture. It makes for a great read and I highly recommend you check it out.

You can buy The Gardener from Ochakov from Amazon here.

The Infatuations by Javier Marais

Sometimes books have a mysterious pull…

Yet at the same time they seem to hold you at arm’s length.

I’m not sure if that makes sense, but it’s the best way I can think to describe The Infatuations.

In fact, it kind of describes Marais’ writing as a whole.

I first came across him reading his huge Your Face Tomorrow trilogy, whilst travelling in Spain.

As I was reading the book in the place where he’d set it, I again felt closer to the story – yet his prose still keeps you guessing.

He’s a writer of contradictions and it’s kind of a contradiction that I would recommend a somewhat difficult-to-read book, when I so often promote simple reading.

But, as I say, there’s something mysterious and intriguing about Marais that I think you should check out.

The Infatuations is his latest novel and it’s very interesting. It opens with a man being gruesomely killed by mistake and then proceeds to examine how that death impacts the lives of those around him.

It’s a very thoughtful book and – though it’s a fictional story – it’s a very insightful book, exploring how the human mind works in close detail.

When I advise reading widely, it’s books like this that I have in mind.

A difficult read, but one that’s worth it.

You can buy The Infatuations from Amazon here.

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

To be a copywriter, you really need to be a good marketer too.

Or, at least, you need to have a damn good grasp of marketing.

Books like Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational will help with that. In fact, this one will help a lot.

You see, this is all about testing – perhaps the single most important thing you can do in direct response copywriting and marketing.

By testing different elements of your copy, you can learn which angles work better, which emotions pack the most punch and which words trigger the most engagement.

And of course, when you find something that works really well, you can repeat it. And repeat it. And repeat… you get the gist.

Dan’s book is a good one to start with on this subject as it covers a lot of the standard testing stories that people talk about these days. It looks at price testing, which is always useful and it investigates how people rationalise things comparatively, which will get you thinking about how to handle offers in your copy.

All in all, it’s one of the more solid books on marketing in the modern time and well worth a read.

You can buy Predictably Irrational from Amazon here.

That’s all for this month – I hope that gives you some ideas for your reading.

And remember, if you’ve read any of the books I mention, please do share your thoughts on them in the comments section below.


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