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Talking to Strangers: Now Recommended for the First Time

Why are we posting what looks to be a book review, you ask? Creative Content and Copywriting is a copy and content development agency. And you edit books! But alas, yes--we edit books. And we help shape and tell stories for a living - short stories, long stories, stories about a brand within a mere tagline, and stories that develop into an article based on the verbatim text we jotted down once during an interview. We're all about stories and books--and we read a damn lot of them too.

As a team dedicated to bringing out the best in brands and finding the right words to tell your story, we feel the need to be well versed in all sorts of literary devices. Sentence structure, excellent punctuation, knowing and relying on a broad vocabulary - call it what you will, we consider our heavy reading habits to be a sort of ongoing Professional Development course that never ends. And what do we read, you ask?

In short, everything. We say everything because we don't discriminate--even among the world of avid readers who vouch for putting down a book you don't like through to soldiering on to the end (FYI: our take is that even with a so-so book you can learn just as much about what you don't like as what you do), for the sake of your working-from-home time and the interest, we'll narrow this down for you a bit further:

What Do We Read at Creative Content?

  1. 2 x Non-Fiction books, and,

  2. 1 x Fiction book. (Usually, but not always, literary fiction.)

We say 'and' because we, quite honestly, read an ongoing, rotating cycle of three books at any given time. In the Non-Fiction category, we usually turn to one excellent (or, we try to look for things that 'will be' excellent) example of storytelling with facts, personal essays, journalism, or biography--that is, we look for information that has been woven into a digestible story. We pick up these works--like the just finished Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell--to see how other authors, journalists, and storytellers weave together raw content and make it interesting, accessible, and eye-catching to the everyday reader. (Slash user.)

Next up is another Non-Fiction - in this hand, the book du jour/week is focused on entrepreneurship, small business management, professional development in a digital world, money and time management, and otherwise (you get the drill). Why? You ask, again. Because we're small business owners, we have a responsibility to our clients and teams to be organised and put our best systems forward, and hardcore believe in ongoing and gradual growth and development. Given that much of Australia--nay, the world--is at a hard standstill during the Covid-19 crisis, we're splitting our time between working and reviewing, adjusting, and dancing with the new changes at business play.

Lastly, we have our fiction - which, we noted - is more often than not a Literary Fiction. (Not to be confused with Commercial Fiction for our literary highbrows out there.) When we say Literary Fiction we mean, at times, more challenging works such as Virginia Woolf's The Waves and Henry David Thoreau's Walden. On the bright side, literary fiction doesn't have to always be brought up from the basement and dusted off - on the contrary, we're currently reading Jeffrey Eugenides' 1993 The Virgin Suicides. Downtrodden? Yes. Hard to, at times, digest in a further downtrodden world? Absolutely, however, by and far one of the best examples of excellent sentence structure and synesthesia there ever was. (Look it up.) Is it the most literary of literary fiction? No. Is it excellent? Yes and we learn a lot from Eugenides writing.

How does all of this relate to strangers, you say? Well, like we mentioned, we've just finished (and wrote a GoodReads review for) Malcolm Gladwell's Talking to Strangers. (It was one of the Non-Fictions we had on the burner last week.) The take-away? 4/5, a stray away from Gladwell's usual storytelling weave, however, an excellent no-holds-barred fact lay bare of key 21st century debates surrounding racial profiling, assault, terrorism, and more. Instead of leaning left or right, the reader is offered both sides of the prosecution and defence and left with no answer other than strangers are those we do not, and cannot, know.

Why are we telling you this? Because we are all in a pivotal, life-changing moment in our professional and personal lives. More than ever, heightened reactions at all ends of the spectrum are showing in our work, our interactions, and (for those few times) we're out in public. Gladwell doesn't lead the reader down a fairytale ending path of A) this is why we currently don't understand strangers, and B) this is how we can understand them in the future. Instead, he prompts the reader to dig into their own preconceptions of interacting with those we know little about and reconsider our every word, action, and thought going forward. Perfect for a time when everyone seems a little out-of-reach, no?

If you want to follow along on the Creative Content reading adventures, including our upcoming review of Mike Michalowicz's Profit First (which Every. Business. Owner. Should. Read) - stay tuned! We're diving into our books and churning out more content than ever before to help spread the good word, highlight excellent examples of storytelling, develop our own craft, and lend our tips and tricks for written content consumption along the way.

Happy reading! Go talk to strangers. (From afar.)

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