Sarah Thomas Storyteller

Must Read Book Recommendations

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John di Carlo, a fellow writer, shared a great Tweet recently by Haruki Murakami. 

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”

So I’ve tried to keep away from the big ones here, although Cal Newport is probably one of those writers.  

Below is a selection of book recommendations that have added value to my life; as a business owner, creative and reader. 

Books That Help My Business

Cal Newport – A World Without Email: Reimagining Work In An Age of Communication Overload  

This book was so helpful that I couldn’t keep it off the list, and as it’s brand new, hopefully, it hasn’t done the blogging rounds.  

Who’s it for

Anyone, business or otherwise, who spends too much time on email and feels they are never getting through their daily tasks.

What I Love About It

I love the phrase ‘cognitive energy’, and it helps me realise what a good use of cognitive energy is and what isn’t – ahem, email!


Blue Ocean Strategy – How To Create Uncontested Market Space and Make The Competition Irrelevant 

I dip into this long read when creating new products or services or refreshing my business overall.

Who’s it for

Although their clients and case studies are large-sized businesses, the advice is relevant to companies of all sizes.

What I love about it 

I love the ethos of reimagination throughout the book and activities. Reimagining your customers, for example, is a fantastic exercise. You can read more about the Blue Ocean Strategy for Small Businesses here.

TIME: The Science of Creativity 

The central premise is that humans are fundamentally creative creatures, and it is a trait that separates us from other species.  It illustrates its belief through a series of essays and gentle case studies.

Who’s it for 

All businesses who are interested in exploring their creativity.

What I love about it

I love the little stories of entrepreneurial creativity at the end. And quotes like this,

“for all its metaphysical and theological overtones, creativity is also the most fundamentally human of qualities.”

Non-Fiction Recommendations

The Infidel and The Professor by Dennis C. Rasmussen 

 A warm account of the enduring friendship of two of the greatest philosophers from the Scottish Enlightenment – Adam Smith and David Hume.

Conspiracy of Fools: A True Story by Kurt Eichenwald 

This is the story of the rise and crash of Enron and its villainous culture, thrillingly told. 

Think Straight by Darius Foroux

This is a series of articles of pure wisdom by the guru of contemporary productivity and refreshingly European.

Fiction Recommendations

This section is aimed at writers and booklovers. Where I’ve had the time, I’ve written a blog inspired by the book.  

La Bête Humaine by Émile Zola 

A train thriller shadowed by Zola’s social commentary – or maybe it’s the other way around.  Writers, I’d highly recommend a study of Zola’s structure in this book and also Germinal, which is on par with this, though more tragic. Take a look at my blog on the creative writing devices of Emile Zola. 

One Thousand And One Nights by Hanan Al-Shaykh

A sumptuous retelling of the classic One Thousand And One Nights.  Check out my blog on the storytelling craftsmanship of Al-Shaykh.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo 

Like many of the French adventure novels of the time, this is a long but fun read. I have known people to skip over long sections that describe the Parisian architecture, but it is a beautiful story, and I often think of Pierre Gringoire and his life lessons. Check out my blog on Pierre Gringoire.  

Altered Carbon by Richard K Morgan 

As I’m embarking on my first sci-fi story, Altered Carbon has been a huge inspiration. The flawed but philosophical protagonist Takeshi Kovacs leads us on an explosive quest making a page-turning reading experience. Netflix is now on season two of the series.

Station Eleven by Emily Mandel St. John 

A dystopian novel about a devastating swine flu pandemic but rich with characters and literary devices.  It’s also a reminder of how Covid-19 could have gone!  A short and hypnotic read.


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