Four favourite books: Giles Lury

Jane Austen, John Steinbeck, Frank Herbert and a... work book

When doing research in someone’s home I always take a look at their bookshelves; that is if they have any to peruse. Many just don’t read books at all, except maybe on holiday, and some don’t have any books in the house. Kindle and audiobooks have further diminished the number of houses with physical books in them. However, I still look for them. It’s one of those things that tell you something about the respondent.

So I expect I’m revealing a fair amount about myself by revealing my four favourites. (Well, four of my favourites.)

East of Eden, by John Steinbeck

I love Steinbeck and the way he writes and could probably have done a piece on my four favourite Steinbeck novels, but have limited myself to one. Surprisingly, perhaps, it’s not Grapes of Wrath with its powerful message about social injustice and perhaps the most powerful ending to a book I have ever read.

No, it is the interwoven tale of the Hamiltons and the Trasks with the love, pain, joy and sorrow of families brought to life. Highlights include a ‘re-telling’ of the Cain and Able story, the Caleb and Aron story, the wronged and wrong doing heroine Cathy and the love and complications of a large family. Other episodes that have made me think include the exploration of whether or not the Bible advocates ‘free will’, and how the translation of one as either ‘thou shall’ or ‘thou mayest’ can make such a profound difference.

Dune, by Frank Herbert

I read a lot of sci-fantasy and could easily have chosen The Lord of the Rings, but wasn’t sure it would count as one or three books. It was also a book my late father, who was an early Tolkien fan, introduced all his children to. There were other contenders from Feist to McCaffrey — I’m a sucker for dragons.

In the end, though, I realised that I have read Dune three times and watched all the film versions and TV series (the latest is probably the best, and I’m looking forward to part two). The characters, intrigue, notion of power and whether you can control it captures me every time.

Pride & Prejudice, by Jane Austen

Did you see that one coming? I am, or like to think I am, a romantic, and this is a book that could teach modern romcoms a thing or two. It’s light fluffy and helped establish so many of the classic plot twists and turns – the sister/friend about to be ‘ruined’, the couple who at first detest each other, the over-bearing mother, the love within a family and across siblings and close friends…

While it is now very much a book of its time and not very PC, it does hold a special place in my heart.

Built to Last, by Jerry Porras and Jim Collins

A ‘work’ book on my list of favourite books — how come?

I have always said that you need to find a ‘job’ that you truly enjoy doing, especially if it is going to take up a huge amount of your time. I found that in brand consultancy. Built To Last is a book I recommend to marketers and consultants. It is actually positioned as a management or business book, but for me it has so many lessons for brands. It has numerous faults and has been criticised over the years, but it also has so many concepts that I have found to be invaluable, and which I’ve used over the years in numerous branding projects.

Concepts likes stimulating change while preserving the core, build a cult-like culture, set yourself a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) and recognize that great brands are reliant on one great leader. It is also an enjoyable and easy read.

Having chosen four I realise that there are four more I could (and maybe should) have chosen. Why didn’t Winnie the Pooh or the House at Pooh Corner make the list?

However, rather than start again I’ll end with a call for you to keep on, or maybe start reading more. Reading is educational, recreational, stimulating, escapist, thought-provoking and much much more.

Giles Lury is a hopeless romantic who wants to escape the world on the back of a dragon but is currently working as a Director at The Value Engineers. He is the author of numerous book on branding including ‘The Prisoner & The Penguin’ and ‘The Marketing Complex‘.

Featured image: Dune, by Frank Herbert

Giles Lury

Giles would describe himself as a VW Beetle driving, Lego watch-wearing, Disney-loving, Chelsea-supporting father of five who also happens to be a senior director of leading strategic brand consultancy - The Value Engineers. He has over thirty years’ experience in the business and is known both for his creative spark and his ability to constructively challenge conventional thinking which has led to him being given another title - Director of Deviancy.

All articles

MediaCat is an online publication exploring marketing and media change. We focus on brands, the environments where they operate, and the industries that serve them, reporting on ideas, trends, and perspectives. Delving into modern brand experiences, evolving media landscapes, emerging forms of insight, the dynamic world of commerce, forces of transformation in organisations and markets, and the drivers of social impact, we aim to guide professionals navigating a brave new world.

All articles