17 books every communicator should read


As part of my ICology podcast, I routinely ask communicators if there's a book they recommend every communicator should read. I ask this for two reasons. First, I think it's sheds some personal light on the guest and what their interests are. And second, it opens up communicators to potentially new resources or sources of inspiration. 

To follow, here are 17 books guests of ICology recommend every communicator should read. Some apply directly to the profession but most don't. Several deal with how to better understand people and manage your own life better. And one is even a memoir from an author's childhood in rural England in 1959. 

How many have you read? You can find all the books on this Amazon list

Thinking Fast and Slow

Recommended by Heather Wagoner
There’s a book called "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman. It's all about behavior economics and influence. And it's an excellent book for communicators. I think it's sometimes around how you pitch messaging and how you influence your audience. And even really simple things, like how you sometimes order a list of things can influence how someone thinks about it. It's very detailed. It's very, very good. 


The Art of Focused Conversation

Recommended by Ciara O’Keeffe
It was a book that was recommended to me and it's called, "Art of Focused Conversation: 100 ways to access group wisdom in the workplace." It's by Brian Stanfield, it's absolutely fantastic for upping your game in terms of interviewing people and asking the right questions, which for me, is really key with internal comms when you're finding out information, when you're talking to senior stakeholders, asking those right questions so you get to your outcomes really quickly. And the good thing about it is you don't have to read the whole book, you can dip in and out depending on the types of meetings you're going into or the types of interviews you're doing and stuff like that. So, yeah. For me, it's a really great book.


The 5 Love Languages

Recommended by Ally Bunin
So I think one of the greatest books for communicators or anyone is ”The Five Love Languages.” It teaches you how to better communicate with somebody, whether it be your spouse, a loved one, a child, highly recommended.


Communicating Change

Recommended by Christopher Hannegan
The one book for communicators that I think is a must-read is "Communicating Change" by Larkin. This is not a new book. It has been around for at least 20 years, if not longer. But I still find it to be an incredibly relevant book about how to create communication strategies that connect the business through communications objectives and most importantly, how to design strategies that reach all the way into the front line of an organization. It's a pretty easy read.


Lean In

Recommended by Priya Bates
I really enjoyed Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. I thought it was great, especially from a female prospective. But I think that men and women should both read the book. I love that book. It's provided me with a lot of insight in terms of opportunity. 

Renegades Write the Rules

Recommended by Natalie White
I really, really love Amy Jo Martin wrote a book called Renegades Write the Rules. It's all about social media, and her story of how she leveraged...she's really very good at Twitter, and how she started. Shaquille O'Neal's one of her clients, Dwayne Johnson and others. She's personally fascinating, but she also has a very strategic and tactical ways in which you can leverage social media. I really love that book.


Made to Stick

Recommended by JoEllen Saeli-Lane
I love that book. I go back to it time and time again when I'm creating messages, and I just think it's one of the best ones out there. 


Heart of Change

Recommended by Paul Barton
I think that communicators should spend a little bit more time reading what some of our organizational development and change leaders and partners pay attention to. I really recommend the communicators read the John Kotter's book on "The Heart of Change. There's a lot of change management books out there. I think Kotter's to me integrates well with communication thinking.


Reality-Based Leadership

Recommended by Kristin Hancock
I think every person who has a job should read "Reality-Based Leadership" by Cy Wakeman, because her whole concept is about ditching the drama in your life, dealing with the reality of your situation and then moving forward from that.


Recommended by Bev Attfield
It's a little book, it's a quick read about creating purpose and inspiring leadership. And I think those are tactics that every communicator, whether you're an internal comms professional or a marketer, or a PR person, you should really master the skills that Seth talks about. Especially those professionals who are hoping to build an engaged culture through internal communications in an organization. 

How to Win Friends & Influence People

Recommended by Rachel Williams
I didn't actually read it, I listened to it on audio book and I don't often re-read books but I listen to that over and over and over again. I loved the stories, and the simplicity of the advice for becoming an influencer by valuing your audience. Whether that's 1 person or 500 people, the lessons taught in that book are just brilliant for a communicator.

Cider with Rosie

Recommended by Nick Howard
I won't recommend a business book or an advice book or anything like that. I'll recommend something a little bit differently, and it's my favorite book and I read it first when I was very, very young. It's actually a very old book. It's called “Cider with Rosie” and it's the autobiography of Laurie Lee, who was an English poet and novelist, and it's set at the turn of the last century, so it's pre-World War I and it describes Lee's youth growing up in the English countryside. And the reason I would recommend it to anybody is I think it's one of the most beautifully written books in the English language. And if you want a brilliant example of how language can be evocative and beautiful and create pictures in your mind, then I think Cider with Rosie is perfect. It is a truly wonderful, beautiful book and I would recommend anybody to read it.



Recommended by Stephanie Davies
So, the Carol Dweck book called "Mindset," and it is all about we should challenge the status quo and how when we get a message it's how we take that message on-board, whether we use it as a positive to grow and develop ourselves, or sometimes whether we see it as a negative, going back to that internal event. 


The Book of Gossage

Recommended by Greg Monaco
I’m coming from a very specific perspective because I’m in branding and I came up through the ranks as a copywriter in the ad agency world. One of my favorite books is a book called The Book of Gossage by Howard Gossage. This guy was called the Socrates of San Francisco and he was a copywriter in the ‘50s and ‘60s and he just brought fun and humor into an industry that was really up to the point was very earnest in tone. He has a great quote that I love reciting to people, but any budding copywriter that would come into our office I would hand them this book and say read this, this is great. He says, “Nobody reads ads, they read what interests them and sometimes it’s an ad.”


The Secret Life of Pronouns

Recommended by Julia Markish
This is a book that I love no matter who you are but I think it’s incredibly apt for communicators. It’s called “The Secret Life of Pronouns” by James Pennebaker. He is a social psychologist and a linguist and he has run or collected just myriad studies about how the language that you use specifically the pronouns that you use in your speech or in your writing can tell so much about you. Whether you use I or we or you and it’s the coolest, highly, highly, highly recommend it particularly if you want to sort of do a little bit of self-reflection. I have to warn people that it does really make you reread your emails, probably more, even more than you used to because you’re like counting how many times you use the word I and what does that mean about myself.


Hamlet’s BlackBerry

Recommended by Crystalee Beck
For me, that’s “Hamlet's BlackBerry.” It was required reading for my master’s program, and it’s by William Powers. It’s a phenomenal book about how to create a good life in the digital age, and it’s one that I’ve reread pretty regularly. It’s just really, really good. We live in such a busy world, and he just nails what you need to do to unplug and … Yeah, Hamlet’s Blackberry. Good stuff.


Change by Design

Recommended by Michelle Mahony
The book I would recommend is called “Change by Design” by Tim Brown. It's really around putting that design thinking, and that employee, at the center of what we do in organizations to increase our communication's effectiveness. Great stuff. Lately in our organization, we've really been doing a lot of thinking, and playing with design thinking, and essentially what that is, it's really putting your end user at the center of how you create and design your strategy, or your product.