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How to turn your BORING Storytelling into ENGAGING Narratives

Sep 11, 2023

If you are not reading non-fiction, you’re not expanding your brain. Books are the cheapest form of knowledge and before the excuses start, anyone who says that they don’t have “the time” to read is only lying to themselves. It takes the average person just over eight hours to read a 300-page book. That’s just under one – and – half hours per day during the week – excluding the weekends, (this is the same amount of time I would spend watching Netflix when coming home). I’m highly dyslexic and can still manage to complete a book: cover to cover, every week. In this post, I’m going to give you a jump start by showing you 10 books that will give you the tools to turn your BORING storytelling into an ENGAGING narrative! (read them in this order)‍ 

Note: I have included a non-affiliate link at the end of the blog to the full reading list for anyone who wants to get started immediately. Happy reading!


1. Kindra Hall:
Stories That Stick

Stories that stick is first on the list for a reason. This book has been the most impactful on my growth as a storyteller. Hall outlines the four parts of a successful story: Identifiable characters, significant moments, authentic emotions, and specific details. These elements allow you to create attention-grabbing and meaningful impact in the audience from the very first second. With that out of the way the audience has a way easier time engaging with your message. Which sets you on the paths to truly transform the audiences perspective.


2. John Truby:
The Anatomy Of Genres

Did you know that there are 90 different sub-genres of Cinema? These stem from the core 13 genres that make up a story. My main takeaway from this book is what Truby says about George Lucas’s reinvention of cinematic storytelling. He describes it in two distinct eras: BSW and ASW (Before Star Wars and After Star Wars). Star Wars was a turning point in film history. It became the first true multi-genre story and challenged the then-status-quo of building a story around a single genre. Instead of just being a sci-fi film, Star Wars explored coming of age, adventure, love, betrayal and became a conglomerate of multiple genres. In 2023, it has become the norm for films to have multiple genres, especially in modern cinema.


3. Dave Trott:
One + One = Three

In this book, Trott shares his philosophy on advertising and the power of simple, creative ideas. It’s a must-read for anyone interested in advertising or marketing. “ONE + ONE = THREE” challenges traditional notions of competition and promotes collaboration as a means to create new value. By examining the power of partnerships, offer insights into strategic thinking and the potential for synergy in various industries. But for me, this is a book about the underdog and pursuing goals. It has a wealth of truly inspiring underdog stories about those who pursued their goals with immense beliefs while adapting to changing landscapes.


4. Austin Kleon:
Steal Like An Artist

Kleon’s book is a manifesto for creativity, encouraging readers to embrace inspiration from others and find their own unique voice. This awesome little book can be read in a day with tons of really cool graphics and doodles (you can literally read it in 3 hours). Kleon makes it clear there’s a good way and a bad way to steal like an Artist. Start with finding what inspires you, then find who inspires them and then find who inspires them. Once you’ve done that, look past their art and think how they came to these creative outcomes and you’ll begin to think like them. Mix all of it together and – congratulations! Now you ‘re stealing like an ARTIST! The other incredibly important message from this wonderful book is to just START creating, don’t wait for conditions to be perfect because they’ll never be. You will come to find your voice in those early imperfect works as you learn what works for you and what doesn’t. This book ultimately encourages you to just put the time in and that creativity is born from time spent honing your craft.  


5. Malcolm Gladwell:
The Tipping Point

In this book, Gladwell explores the concept of “tipping points” and how small changes can have big impacts. It’s a fascinating read for anyone interested in social psychology. He defines two key concepts: ‘Mavens’ and ‘Connectors’. A Connector is a person who goes out and communicates the idea, thus selling it and doing the marketing on behalf of the brand – whereas a maven is a person who is respected in that particular sphere. But it’s important to remember that both Mavens and Connectors are equally important and intertwined. But can Mavens and Connectors be combined into a “Maven-Connector”? Yes they can be; Gordon Ramsey is a Maven-Connector, as he is both a highly respected chef and someone with a large social media influence.


6. David Aaker:
Creating Signature Stories

Facts tell, stories sell! This book provides a step-by-step process for crafting and telling your own signature story, helping you stand out in an ever growing and saturated market. The human brain is wired to process information presented in a story way more efficiently than just hard facts. If you compare facts to a story that has the same general content, the story will get more attention, persuade, change perceptions, be remembered, and be passed on. In an age where ‘content is king’ and attention needs to be earned, GREAT storytelling is more important than ever. The average person is bombarded with between 8,000 and 12,000 ads per day, and people are so efficient at blocking out ads that for your message to make it through to the audience it needs to have a signature story. To create a signature story, it must be all five of these things: intriguing, authentic, involving, a narrative, and containing a strategic message.


7. Tom Bernardin, Leo Burnett, Mark Tutssel: Humankind

I call this book my ‘White Bible’. This book explores the power of empathy and human connection in advertising, offering a fresh perspective on how to create campaigns that resonate with people. This brilliant book on advertising helped me to understand the four steps of advertising. The main point being that it’s not about what a brand DOES: it is what a brand MEANS to people. It outlines brand image and brand identity and the crucial difference between them, and how the aim of a brand should always be brand equity – which is to get brand image and brand identity as close together as possible.


8. Reed Hastings:
No Rules Rules

This book provides insights into Netflix’s culture and leadership principles, offering a new perspective on how to run a successful business. Reed Hastings talks about the innovative culture and management strategies of Netflix. How to foster a culture of freedom and responsibility and how it can drive business success. It contains valuable lessons for storytellers who want to challenge the norm. Although I don’t completely agree with their idea of removing the term “family” from the workplace so that people know that they’re replaceable – because you should always empower your employees – it still remains a fantastic book on how to run a successful business.


9. Jacqueline Frost:
Cinematography For Directors

Frost’s guide to cinematography is a valuable resource for filmmakers who want to improve their visual storytelling skills. This book does a great job of unpacking one of the most crucial collaborations in the filmmaking process: the relationship between the DP and the Director. Directors oftentimes have a clear vision but lack communicating that in technical terms. The book’s focus is teaching directors how to talk to a DP. It’s a book that doesn’t take any sides, making it a great read for me because I would work with the same DP over and over. His name is Fabian Vettiger and we fight all the time, but our fights are ALWAYS productive because we have intellectual debates based on our understanding and interpretation of the script. It would be unwise to refuse the guidance from a DP, particularly if they’re a great one, but all communication needs to come from a place of mutual understanding and a common goal.


10. The Film That Changed My Life:
(30 Directors On Their Epiphanies In The Dark)

In this collection of essays, filmmakers share the movies that inspired them and shaped their creative vision. It’s a great read for anyone who loves movies and wants to learn more about the art of filmmaking. This is an incredible book by all my favorite directors. It reaffirms to me as a creator that it’s okay to steal like an artist because each one of them steals from the other’s ideas. Every Oscar-winning director honors a director who inspired them. Be it Martin Scorsese or Stanley Kubrick, their profound influence on the industry will be felt and written about for years to come. It’s incredibly insightful to read about the films that shaped these directors’ points of view.


View the full reading list: https://linkmix.co/16829998


Subscribe to the blog below to get notified as soon as the next blog post goes live. On next weeks Blog, “How to make viral videos, featuring MrBeast” Comment below to let me know your thoughts! Don’t forget, you’re awesome Bru! See you next week Monday.

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49 Comments

  1. Love the idea of this blog – but feel like Dan is not actually writing them? Feels very generic and someone/thing wrote it for him? Would appreciate more authentic reviews on a post like this! That being said I will probably check out a few of these books 🙂

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    • hey Will Bru! It’s def me haha. I spend a long time writing these. I’m dyslexic af so I comb through everything. Sorry this one felt a bit generic. I love the ‘thing’ comment hahaha. I wish. No I really enjoy writing hence why I started the blog. Thanks for the feedback Bru!

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  2. Thanks Dan. Hope to be a great visual storyteller like you. Thank you for these resources.

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    • Danny bru! Thanks for your comment, def give these books a read they give you great building blocks to learn from.

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  3. LEGEND BRU! I love how you find time to read no matter what or how busy you are. <3

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    • Haha thanks, Raine! I appreciate you!

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  4. Always grinding away and always a good read. Thanks for sharing Dan!

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    • Thanks for the great tipps Dan. Will definitely get one and/or the other. Am loving the blog so far!

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      • Super insightful, will definitely be checking a few of those books out!

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        • Definitely check some more of them out, Tessa! They are all honestly so great in their own ways.

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      • Goetz! My bru continue to read, read, read! It is so valuable. Thanks for the blog feedback!

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    • Matt my bru! Thank you for having a read! I put a lot into writing these blogs and being honest.

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  5. Book #3 is for sure one of my favourites! But will definitely be reading the rest, thanks for all the insight! 🙂

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    • Ay Kyle my bru! Creative thinking is so vital in what we do. keep the wheels turning in the brain and let the creativity flow.

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  6. Hey Dan, thanks for the blog!. Thi sis a great book list and I’ve only rrad 2 out of these so I’m excited to get into the rest of them! Looking forward to the next blog as well. Keep up the consistency!

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    • Tuhafeni my bru! Thanks for giving this a read. You must definitely give the other books mentioned a read. They have helped me immensely.

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  7. Amazing read! Super interesting and will definitely check these out! Thank you for sharing Dan!

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    • Thanks, Hilde! Check them out and let me hear your thoughts! Reading is so important for the mind.

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  8. Dan! I love the nuance you are taking in this blog. You are giving us such an inspiring insight into your mind and it is so exciting to see where this blog will go! Can’t wait to find out the secrets to going viral with MrBeast next week! Wow! Such insane value.

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    • Raiffe my bru! I appreciate the feedback and excitement! Very good things happening at the moment! These blogs are supposed to be raw and authentic experiences/feelings in my life. I am happy you are enjoying the blogs and keeping up to date with them.

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  9. These are such good books! I’ve read a few of these and can’t wait to check out some of the other suggestions. Thanks Dan, I’m putting them on my reading list for sure!

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    • Thanks Jarrod! They are all worth a read for sure. Let me know your thoughts on the other books when you get to them. I always love to hear feedback my bru!

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  10. I’m inspired 💪

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    • Thanks Reubs! I am glad to have shared some inspiration with you bru!

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  11. You never cease to amaze me, Dan! You are pushing boundaries bigger than ever

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    • Thank you very much, John! It makes me happy to see comments like these.

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  12. I have read a lot of books in my day and the books you mention especially regarding HumanKind was one that definitely made an impact in my life. Well said, Dan.

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    • Hey jack! Thanks bru! Always good to meet another fellow reader. The power books have and the stories they tell are so important. There is always so much to take from it.

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  13. These blog posts are inane! The amount of work you put into this stuff really does show and It has been so thrilling with every read, tip, trick or neat idea I have picked up on. Thanks for always sharing your experiences and being so honest.

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    • Dyl my bru! Thank you so much for the comment! A lot of time is spent crafting together these blogs and trying to make them special and readable for my audience. Much appreciated!

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  14. Great read about filmmaking in general – I had no idea it was so vast. Not being in the field one tends to think its as simple as finding a story and then filming it.

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    • Thanks, Pepita! There is a lot that goes into this field and this creative industry. Thank you for all the support!!

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  15. Thanks so much for the great information Dan

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    • Hey BRU. Dan I can’t explain the vibe that change my life I was totally broke You always give Me positivity I don’t have words to explain. Lot’s of love and respect bru honestly you are awesome. Honestly I’m not book lover but for sure I read then and let you know when complete. Stay Blessed 🙌

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    • Always, Chris! I am glad you found this informative. Thanks for everything!

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  16. Lots of books I havent seen before,

    Thanks for the share Dan!

    Justin Beswick

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    • Justin my bru! You need to check out these books! They are all so great in their own ways and there is so much to take from them. Thanks Justin.

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  17. Thanks a lot Dan for the recommendations! I’ll make sure that I complete all the books!

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    • This is awesome to read, Nishant! Let me know all your thoughts on each book when you get a chance to go through them!

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  18. Lekker read, food for thought.
    Thanks Bru

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    • Thanks Louis! I appreciate your comment my bru!

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  19. It’s inspiring Dan. Might not be able to read in the same order but starting anyway.
    Thanks Bru!

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    • Nishant! That is the beauty of this blog and these books. Read them in whatever order/ which ever way that makes you feel engaged and entertaining for yourself my bru! Enjoy them all in your own time.

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  20. Hi Dan! I’m curious if you know any good books that teaches theory or tactics of integrating music into YouTube videos. I understand the basics and your recent YouTube video about harnessing music was enlightening. I’m curious where I could learn more.

    Thanks so much!

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  21. I bought a book because of you…haha

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