Skip to the main content
Observations

Six Page-Turners in Our Amazon Cart

 
 
 

‘Tis the season for lazing in the sun and kicking back with a good read. If you’re anything like us, the warm weather has you eager to pick up a few books to act as your summer companion on road trips, beach visits or even lounging around the house. Take a peek at some of the items at the top of our summer reading list.

The Perfect Wave
by Dave Hickey

Charismatic art critic Dave Hickey has long been loved and loathed in the art world for his often straightforward, sometimes old school, sometimes patriarchal, critique style. As the sequel to his late 1990s release Air Guitar, The Perfect Wave is a series of essays on subjects dear to him and his multi-hyphenate background: surfing, jazz, Disneyland, politics, film, and, yes, art. In this latest collection of essays, Hickey uncovers deep insights into what makes art “work”—or not.

As practitioners in the world of design, creativity and business, we can appreciate the variety of subjects he examines – troweling the surfaces, the in-betweens, and the rummaging to attempt to get at a bigger picture and the inter-related connections amongst us all.

Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business
by Charles Duhigg

Portraying a series of eight keys to productivity, this read looks across a variety of industries and studies—from findings in neuroscience and psychology to experiences of FBI agents, CEOs and Broadway composers—digging deep into what motivates people to be productive. Smarter Faster Better offers up practical skills and relatable advice for success in business and in life itself.

We expect this book to affirm a lot of things we might already do in our day-to-day (a good self-esteem boost!), but to also teach us new workflows and tips to apply to our work routines. As accounts, responsibilities and business shift and grow, we’re always looking for ways to streamline processes and ways to help colleagues do the same.

White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America
by Joan C. Williams

In today’s complicated political landscape, the term “working class” is often viewed as “poor”— a false conception that Joan Williams states is rooted in class cluelessness. The white working class is largely misunderstood—mistaken as racist or xenophobic by many—but Williams argues that this group is the allegedly disappearing middle class, with dreams of maintaining their current lifestyle and cultures, just with more money in their possession. At a time of populist, nationalist movements, this book opens a dialogue around why this group would seemingly want to vote against economic and political standpoints that favor them.

Aside from being incredibly timely, empathy is something everyone in our industry can—and should-better understand. With this read, we’re looking to uncover some of our own personal experiences and insights into places of our past (and how they inform our present). In a day and age when so many groups are hurting and societal tensions are high, we have high hopes for this book to bring us in touch and provide fodder for [sometimes] tough conversations.

Fusion: How Integrating Brand and Culture Powers the World’s Greatest Companies
by Denise Lee Yohn

We often we see companies trying to define their “internal” and “customer-facing” brands as if they were separate ideas and equities—often failing to see the importance of connecting their beliefs and values to the way they market themselves. Yohn demonstrates how the world’s most successful companies thoughtfully weave together a unified brand and company culture by effectively planning connected experiences with their employees, customers, and communities. She shares practical steps and advice to guide any organization’s leaders to successfully drive the integration of brand and culture.

Throughout our organization, we recognize meticulous experiences of stakeholders inside and outside of companies to build a strong, unified brand and culture. We’re excited to gain insight and practical strategies from Yohn’s experiences, which we’re hoping will only reinforce the work we do everyday with clients.

Feel Free
by Zadie Smith, a collection of her essays

Highly-respected novelist Smith brings the same sense of development of storytelling, place, and character to her essays. Equal parts reflection and intellectual inquiry, she covers topics that range from creativity and taste, to technology and culture, to politics and humanity—all the while helping the reader feel like they’re simply sitting down for a conversation with a friend.

Storytelling is fundamental to our work, both at VSA and across the industry. It’s how we develop strategies that invite action and how we help our clients’ brands endure long term. In her Feel Free collection, Smith dives deeply into complex and diverse subjects, tying vastly different ideas together into powerful stories that we hope will leave us with a lesson learned.

Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
by Douglas Hofstadter

In short, the book draws on the works of artistic and mathematical pioneers alike to deduce insights about the future of computers and AI—and how that intelligence closely ties into the thoughts and behaviors of humans. What’s next in the evolution of these technologies?

As we’ve seen natural systems take on meaning and form patterns that resemble other universal patterns, so a larger interest in understanding the patterns that exist in specific applications and how in concert those patterns can resemble larger frameworks and how those provide a framework for real life.