Fiction That Cultivates Your ...


Some of the best storytellers on the planet are novelists.

Past posts have borrowed from novelists. This one comes at the genre from a different angle. I asked five communicators from varied worlds to share their favorite novel for advancing storytelling acuity from a business context.

The end result is a mix of reading deserving of your nightstand.

  • Jose Mallabo heads marketing for the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD):

“I’d have to say On the Road. It’s probably the first published blog ever written from the shoulder view of Jack K. It’s very much the perspective that I look for in the corporate bloggers I’ve hired and worked with.”

Cover - On the Road, Jack Kerouac

Sidenote: Taking lessons from his experience at companies ranging from eBay to LinkedIn, Jose is now building a storytelling mentality in the academic arena.

“I’m always most impressed by storytellers who capture and hold my attention, despite my preferences and biases. On the one hand, if you ask me what I prefer reading, I’ll tell you that literary fiction is my preferred genre and that I do nerdy things like read new translations of favorite authors (mostly Russian.)  Snooty, right?  But if you ask me about some of the best stories I’ve encountered, I’ll point to fantasy writers Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, who weave tales that capture not just attention, but imagination. My favorite is a joint work of Mssrs. Pratchett and Gaiman – Good Omens is a tour de force in both satire and storytelling.  And herein is my B2B learning:  while I’m not a big fan of sci-fi or straight fantasy, if you throw satire into the mix, you have my interest.  A story may be beautifully constructed and masterfully told, but if it doesn’t have the hook that attracts the audience, it will fail – fail to capture initial interest, or worse, fail to hold the prospect’s attention.”

Good Omens, Neil Gaiman

Makers by Cory Doctorow gives you a visceral, emotional story about what it means to BE a network.”

Makers, Cory Doctorow

“If you want to tell a story and tell it well, study Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Steinbeck uses intercalary chapters to weave the Joad family’s experiences into the larger story of the Great Depression and one of the largest human migrations in history. The storytelling lessons here are many, but one stands out: make your audience care.  Set the scene. Steinbeck didn’t rely on his audience’s preconceptions of the Great Depression or the Dust Bowl. As storytellers, it’s our job to use familiar language to achieve new understanding – not rehash old ideas.”

Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck

  • Karen Dietz owns Just Story It and is part of what I affectionately call the Twitter Storytelling Posse:

“My fave novel for storytelling is The Seventh Telling. It’s all about the dynamics of storytelling which is hard for businesses to grasp. And it’s a cool story too.”

The Seventh Telling, Mitchell Chefitz

Consider these recommendations on how to spend those book store gift cards headed your way via the holiday season.


And if anyone has a book to add the list, by all means jump in.

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