Advertising Reading List


This is our Advertising Reading List: books recommended by our network of over 800 mentors.

Some of the authors recommended also happen to be mentors, but that’s what comes from having some amazing people like Sir John Hegarty associated with the school. Some of our mentors are writing advertising classics.

We have broken the list into two manageable chunks, and delivered them in order of “the story” that we want to tell you if you find your way to our school.

The first list should be finished before you start the course.

The second list should be finished before you go on placement.

With each list, there are some books that are compulsory reading,  and there are others that are optional. We try to keep at least one copy of every book on the list in our library. Amazon links will help you find the books online. Swapping with friends is strongly recommended.



If you are joining School of Communication Arts as a student then we need you to have read all of the Compulsory Reading books on this list before your first day at school.  We suggest that you read these books in the order listed below.

If you want to read more than the Compulsory Reading List then we have some more books for you in the Recommended Reading List.



Your Memory by Kenneth Higbee Your Memory: How It Works and How to Improve It

Reading this book first will help enormously. It is probably the most difficult book on this list, but worth the pain. You will learn how to remember more information and how to store those memories for longer. We love this book because it demonstrates how it is possible to improve the way our mind works when we understand the processes of how our mind works.

Made to Stick by Dan Heath Made to Stick: Why some ideas take hold and others come unstuck

If you enjoyed Nudge, you are going to love Made to Stick. This book takes behavioural economics into a slightly different direction, giving useful ideas for making your communications more memorable.

Positioning:The Battle For Your Mind by Al Ries Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind

This book will get you thinking strategically about how we approach our work as communicators. If marketing is chess, then this is the grandmaster’s book of secrets.

How to Do Better Creative Work by Steve Harrison  How to Do Better Creative Work (Prentice Hall Business)

This is a fantastic book for so many reasons.  Firstly, the author knows his stuff. He’s won so many awards that IKEA named a trophy cabinet after him. Steve is a great writer, he has led great agencies to produce great work and this book contains so much good advice.  The book changes hands for hundreds of pounds (it is that good!) but you can download a Kindle version for under a tenner.  Bargain!

Nudge by Richard Thaler Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness

Have you ever considered how predictably you behave? Do you think that it is coincidence that you have never left your card in an ATM, even though you sometimes lose your mobile/wallet/keys in bars/taxis/clubs? Great insights by creative thinkers led to cash machines being designed to give the card back before releasing any money. That’s a nudge. This book is packed full of examples, explanations and ideas for you to start creating your own nudges.

Lateral Thinking by Edward De Bono Lateral Thinking: A Textbook of Creativity

De Bono is the reference point of all creative thinkers and this is one of his most important books. If you have already read it, scan it again and then read How To Have a Beautiful Mind.

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Khaneman Thinking, Fast and Slow

This is the most important book ever written on the subject of how our minds work and how we make decisions. Nobody has done more to help us understand this subject than Daniel Khaneman.  Our job is to persuade people to make decisions that favour us and our clients, so this book will be a major influence.

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

The Tipping Point was one of the first books that described how ideas go viral and was one of the biggest business books of the decade. Stickiness was the subject of Dan Heath’s book (above), and it will crop up in this book too.



You need to surround yourself with great advertising. If you find a D&AD annual or a copy of The Art of Advertising cheap on eBay, then grab it. Don’t spend a fortune on these types of books though because there will be plenty waiting for you in the studio’s library.


Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy Ogilvy on Advertising

Simply the best book about the advertising industry ever written.

Hegarty on Advertising: Turning Intelligence into Magic by Sir John Hegarty Hegarty on Advertising: Turning Intelligence into Magic

This may become known as the best book about the advertising industry ever written. We think it is more relevant and up-to-date than Ogilvy. John’s more likely to sign his book than Ogilvy’s when he comes in.

A User Guide to the Creative Mind by Dave Birss  A User Guide to the Creative Mind

Every page of this fantastic little book provides useful tips and tricks to help you generate lots of original ideas.  Download this book to your phone or tablet and whip it out whenever you require inspiration.

Creative Mischief by Dave Trott   Creative Mischief collects together all the highlights from Dave Trott’s online blog about advertising. Part autobiography, part short story, part how-to advice, each of the entries will refresh your thinking about any creative process, whether it belongs to advertising, writing a book, or managing a team of employees. Published for the first time in book form, Creative Mischief, is a perfect prompt for anyone looking for new ideas, or for readers who simply enjoy the kind of funny story that, as Dave says, he would normally tell over a drink or three.

The Oxford Book of Aphorisms The Oxford Book of Aphorisms (Oxford Paperbacks)

Every summer reading list needs to have one book for the bathroom.

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely  Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions

Influence by Robert Cialdini   Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Free by Chris Andreson (especially if you are planning to be an Ideapreneur) Free: How today’s smartest businesses profit by giving something for nothing

Future Shock by Alvin Toffler   Future Shock

Then We Came To The End by Joshua Ferris (a novel, set in an ad agency) Then We Came to the End: A Novel

The Mind Gym; Wake Your Mind Up  The Mind Gym: Wake Your Mind Up The Mind Gym: Wake Your Mind Up

Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig   Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance: 25th Anniversary Edition: An Inquiry into Values

Ideas: A History From Fire To Freud by Peter Watson  Ideas: A History







We recommend reading these books about halfway through the course.




Digital Advertising: Past, Present, and Future Digital Advertising: Past, Present, and Future

This is easily the most important book for anyone hoping to be a part of whatever advertising is becoming. Every contributor to this mighty book is known for doing prolific work in our industry. Many of them are our mentors. God bless them. Buy this book. Buy it. Buy it now.

New Rules of Marketing & PR by Scott The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Social Media, Blogs, News Releases, Online Video, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly (New … & PR: How to Use Social Media, Blogs,)

Probably the most up-to-date book on the subject of the brave new world that your generation of talent will be working in. What we really love about it is that it recognises the convergence between advertising, direct marketing and PR.

Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age

A book that mashes-up behavioural economics with social media. His first book, ‘Here Comes Everybody’ is well worth a read if you have the time, but Cognitive Surplus is essential reading. Make sure that you have read Nudge and Made to Stick before you start Cognitive Surplus.



Brilliant Copywriting by Horberry Brilliant Copywriting: How to Craft the Most Interesting and Effective Copy Imaginable (Brilliant (Prentice Hall))

A wonderful book to introduce you to the craft of copywriting. Written by a successful copywriter with 25 years of experience, it is packed with useful tips, anecdotes and examples. Towards the end of the book, Horberry interviews some of his mates to ask them how they write brilliant copy.

Words That Sell by Richard Bayan Words that Sell, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Thesaurus to Help You Promote Your Products, Services, and Ideas

When your mentors were learning to become copywriters, one of the first books on their list was a thesaurus. These days you can find a thesaurus and a dictionary online. Harder to find online are brilliantly curated lists of words that help to improve your craft. This book will come in handy whenever you are writing copy.




Graphic Design – A User Manual Graphic Design: A User’s Manual.

This book only has one chapter on Art Direction, but this book is absolute gold. It is fantastically easy to read and packed with brilliant advice. Essential reading.



Innovation and Entrepreneurship by Peter F. Drucker Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Classic Drucker Collection)

This was the book that inspired us to create a pathway called Ideapreneur. By the time that Drucker wrote this in 1985, he was well established as the world’s most important pioneer of business management strategy.

The New Business Road Test by John Mullins The New Business Road Test: What Entrepreneurs and Executives Should Do Before Writing a Business Plan

The most popular book of its kind amongst our Ideapreneur network. We find it useful for helping to evaluate a business opportunity before deciding whether it is worth pursuing. Quite a few VCs say that it is one of their favourite books too.

Rework by Fried and Hansson ReWork: Change the Way You Work Forever

This book is packed with ideas and suggestions that will help you to get things done. Ideapreneurs get things done. This book is really short and easy to read so you will be getting things done before you know it.

Business Model Generation Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers (Wiley Desktop Editions)

So useful in preparing you for your Investor Presentation because it will help you to understand and innovate revenue models. Visually, the book is stunning (considering its subject matter) and it is the result of collaboration between nearly 500 ideapreneurs.

Digital Advertising: Past, Present, and Future Digital Advertising: Past, Present, and Future

This is easily the most important book for anyone hoping to be a part of whatever advertising is becoming. Every contributor to this mighty book is known for doing prolific work in our industry. Many of them are our mentors. God bless them. Buy this book. Buy it. Buy it now.

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