Home Main Menu


10 books that have made us think differently.

Take a sneek peak into what our colleagues have enjoyed reading recently, as we share some of our favourite thought-provoking books for World Book Day!

By Heather Mayne

Girl walking up stack of books

As learning and communications experts, naturally, we are enthralled with what makes people think differently. What moves people to change their ideas?  

Ultimately, the end goal of any learning and communication is to move people to think differently. To do this we tune into people’s behaviour; endeavouring to understand their motivations; piquing their curiosity to capture attention, harnessing the power of storytelling, humour, surprise, and excitement.  

We love a good story, and as someone who has just rekindled their childhood love for reading, I thought, what better way is there to celebrate World Book Day than asking some of my Acteon colleagues to share books that have given them a shift in perspective?

Books that made us think about communication: 

Up first we have two books that use only one word…Probably not the first books you’d expect to see on the shelf of mind-altering literature but hear us out…

Egg! Book cover

Egg!, by Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet and Banana!, by Ed Vere 

Chosen by Acteon consultant Romy Craig:   

“The big surprise about reading with a toddler is how it's made me re-evaluate how we use language, specifically the way we often tend to view verbosity as a hallmark of quality. Both of these books tell a full story using just one word - 'egg' or 'banana' - the way you stress that word on each page when reading out loud coupled with the simple illustrations communicates an emotional journey with complete understanding, showing that we really don't need paragraphs of text to get our message across.”  

The added bonus of reading Egg! is that you get to shout egg in varying tones!  

Quiet front cover

Quiet, by Susan Cain 

Chosen by Acteon consultant Steph Swain: 

“It made me think differently both about what it means to not be extroverted and about how to parent children that aren’t extroverted.” 

Often, we do things unthoughtfully, we automatically do things the way we have always done without thinking if that’s the best way. All three of these books provoke a thoughtfulness into the way we communicate effectively especially to different types of people.  

*This is a disclaimer for potato snack lovers: Please feel free to avert your eyes from the next book and continue to live in blissful ignorance, happily demolishing your potatoey… goodness? * 

Ultra-processed people book cover

Ultra-Processed People: Why Do We All Eat Stuff That Isn’t Food … and Why Can’t We Stop?, by Chris van Tulleken 

Chosen by Acteon consultant Catherine Molloy:  

“This was an interesting read, albeit with a few gaps and criticisms. It’s not so much about nutrition, but more of a holistic look at food manufacturing, marketing, and effects on the consumer.  

There are interviews with ex-food manufacturing innovators, who lift the lid on the secrets of ultra processed food (UPF). These made me think about how the machine of an organisation and its macro targets (sell more, manufacture more, at less cost) can override bigger ‘human’ questions.  

It also made me think about consumer comms, and the villain in storytelling - how taking a wider view can change the essence of a story. For example, do we demonise the food manufacturers for dubious practices, or take a wider view where the politicians who set the frameworks are the villains?

Finally, it changed how I think about Pringles. I'm not sure if this is a good thing!” 

Books that made us think about the effects of the people we surround ourselves with: 

The Art Or Resilience book cover

The Art of Resilience: Strategies for an Unbreakable Mind and Body, by Ross Edgley 

Chosen by Acteon consultant Zofi Betker:  

“The inspiring story of Ross Edgely’s 1,780-mile swim around mainland Great Britain told in The Art of Resilience re-framed my thoughts around the physical and mental challenges we are able to overcome when we adapt and innovate effectively. How he continued despite jellyfish stings, losing chunks of his tongue and having a huge open wound on his neck really speaks to the power of determination and the right support crew. “ 

Rebel Ideas book cover

Rebel Ideas, by Matthew Syed 

Chosen by Head of Marketing Sarah Abramson: 

“In Rebel Ideas, Matthew Syed certainly made me reflect on why it matters so much to be surrounded by different perspectives and experiences for more successful and effective problem-solving, creativity and innovation. 

Through lots of examples, the book shows the power of cognitive diversity as well as demographic diversity – why teams made up of people with different ways of thinking about the world are collectively much more effective than teams who are too similar. 

This is a great read, and a striking insight into why diversity is so much more than ‘political correctness’!” 

Books that made us think about what is actually around us: 

See What You're Missing book cover

See What You're Missing: 31 Ways Artists Notice the World – and How You Can Too, by Will Gompertz 

Chosen by Acteon Principal Rebecca Trigg: 

“I’m not a huge fan of non-fiction but I enjoyed this. Lots of interesting tales about how art provokes new ways of thinking. Including one story about an artist who submitted a urinal in an art exhibition, causing people to rethink what art and craftsmanship means. It’s the role of the viewer to determine meaning in art, which is a concept that I love. 

Will Gompertz was also a very funny and self-deprecating speaker at Offgrid, which was where I got the book. 

Rebecca also noted that they had a scribe at the talk which summarised his book well.  

See What You're Missing Scribe Image

Acteon consultant Amy Foley managed to narrow her favourites down to two: 

The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas book cover

The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas, by Ursula K LeGuin 

“A gorgeous and compelling short story about the price of happiness (you can read it online here). The fictional city of Omelas acts as an extreme microcosm of our society, and it has stuck with me ever since. It made me look at how we live in the western world, and what our way of living costs others.” 

Wilding book cover

Wilding, by Isabella Tree 

“I didn't know what was missing from the countryside until I read Wilding, and now it's all I notice. Isabella Tree, who with her husband intensively farmed their land at Knepp in West Sussex, tells the story of stepping back and letting nature take over… with some encouragement along the way. I challenge anyone to read this and not feel the urge to create habitats for hedgehogs, plant wild flower meadows for bees, or smuggle beavers into rivers.” 

Last but by no means least I have chosen:  

All Dogs Have ADHD book cover

All dogs have ADHD, by Kathy Hoopmann  

This is the book I didn’t know I needed. I was gifted this children’s book at the ripe age of 25 after scoring my job here at Acteon and was surprised to find it insightful. The book highlights some of the recognisable traits of ADHD reflecting on the realities using humour. As a dog lover the comparison feels super relatable, adding a new uplifting perspective, even for some of the not-so-desirable traits. It really made me look at some of my ‘quirks’ with a new sense of understanding and love for them.  

So, there you have it the power of storytelling. *The End.*  

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” - Dr. Seuss 

Want to share our goodies?

Sign up to our newsletter...

for communications nuggets, behavioural insights, and helpful ideas. All treats and no spam.