A somewhat crime-heavy reading list this month!
But that’s the thing with many crime novels: they’re often such easy reads that when you read one, you want to read another.
It’s for this very reason that I think it’s worth dipping into the genre every now and again to look at what makes them so easy to read.
Naturally, if you can emulate that reading ease in your copywriting, you’ll be on to a winner.
So, let’s take a look at this month’s picks:
The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri
Whilst I was in Florida recently, I caught up with copywriting top-dog @DraytonBird. Among other things we got to talking about authors and which books – beyond your standard copywriting texts – are worth reading.
On admitting I’d not read any Camilleri, Mr Bird exclaimed:
“Oh my man, you’ve got to read Camilleri. Do so immediately. He’s wonderful.”
As it happens, the next day I stumbled on a small bookshop in Delray Beach that was dedicated to crime fiction.
I sought out Camilleri’s first book in the Inspector Montalbano series – The Shape of Water – and bought a copy.
Despite having a long list of books to read, I quickly read it on the plane home and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Well written. Well plotted. And well-paced.
I guess it’s those three factors that make it such an easy read. I’ve dug a little deeper and on a few parts I’ve examined there’s a relatively low FK Score too – perhaps that’s a contributing factor.
More than anything though, I think it could be down to the serial structure of the narrative. Each short section leaves you with a question to resolve in the next section. It’s a basic device, but it’s effective.
I think there’s value in thinking about how you can do this in your copy.
The theory could easily be applied to an email series or a long copy sales letter. A lot of the most successful sales letters already do this.
It’s simply a case of making sure you leave enough interesting crumbs in each email or section of your letter for your reader to follow. Do so and they’ll be with you to the end, much like I was with Camilleri as he led me through this enjoyable novel.
A Delicate Truth by John Le Carré
I’m a fan.
And though I imagine a lot of people would argue that his earlier novels, such as The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy are stronger than his more recent novels… I’m not so sure.
I like his recent books. Yes, they’re dependable and he doesn’t take many literary risks. But they are solid books that – like Camilleri’s – are very easy and enjoyable to read.
It’s this ‘flow’ that interests me.
As I suggested earlier, there are many different factors that influence this reading ease. It’s very difficult to point to one particular element having more influence than another.
But common in Le Carré’s books is a use of simple language, specific detail and a tight thread. All of these things are essential when writing longer pieces of copy.
If you need a break from reading sales letters and copywriting handbooks, I would recommend you pick up this book to give you a welcome break and a different look at how to hold a reader’s attention.
Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones
And specifically, I’d be working on the Muppets.
At least, that’s what I hope I’d be doing.
Ever since I was a kid I’ve been a fan of Jim Henson’s Muppets. From Sesame Street to Fraggle Rock, I love the look of the characters, the philosophy behind the shows and the irreverence of the script writing.
So, it was a pleasure to read this biography of the man at the centre of the whole Muppet world: Jim Henson.
Strangely too, it was interesting to read this almost as soon as I’d just finished reading the new biography of Steve Jobs. Though you might think the two men couldn’t be further apart personality-wise (Jobs was a bit arrogant and ruthless, whilst Jim was humble and dreaded confrontation), business-wise, they shared a lot of traits.
Though quiet and always considerate to those around him, Henson is revealed to be an incredibly driven individual. This drive was partly down to some of the personal losses he suffered in his early life, but it was also down to a simple choice…
He knew what he wanted to achieve and worked tirelessly to achieve it.
I won’t talk too much about the different things that are covered in the book as I think part of the enjoyment of reading it is in discovering just how much of an influence Henson had on anything to do with puppets (Star Wars’ Yoda is actually controlled by Frank Oz, the same guy who performs Bert and Miss Piggy!).
Not so much a book that will have a direct influence on your writing style or copywriting skills, but certainly an interesting one from a business point of view and generally just a pleasure to read about an extraordinarily pleasant and talented man.
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.