Read These 6 Books About Storytelling

Want to become a better storyteller? Read these 6 books to help you find, craft, and share better stories.

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A collage of 6 storytelling books to read in 2021

I’ve spent the last two years reading books about storytelling, and what have I learned? Well, not every book with the word “storytelling” in the title is worth spending your hard-earned dollar or placing on-hold at the library. So what books about storytelling should you read?

The books below are packed with actionable tips, specific examples, and frameworks to help you find, craft, and share better stories.

Ready to become a better storyteller? Let’s get to it!

1. Stories That Stick: How Storytelling Can Captivate Customers, Influence Audiences, and Transform Your Business by Kindra Hall

Book cover of Stories That Stick: How Storytelling Can Captivate Customers, Influence Audiences, and Transform Your Business

I knew this book was good when I was hooked from the Introduction alone!

Hall breaks down 4 unique story types you can should incorporate into your content marketing and brand storytelling ASAP: The Value Story, The Founder Story, The Purpose Story, and The Customer Story.

Whether you’re an individual or organization, selling a product or service, you can draw on at least three of the four stories to captivate your customers, persuade your investors, and inspire your employees.

This is easily one of my top non-fiction reads of 2020!

2. Storytelling With Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals by Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic

Storytelling With Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals book cover

Storytelling With Data provides an excellent foundation to become a data storyteller. In fact, that’s why it was one of my favourite non-fiction reads of 2019!

This book will improve your presentations, graphs, and charts. I immediately started to apply what I read to my graphic designs and how I layout my documents, Google Slides, and spreadsheets.

I highly recommend this book if you need to make data-driven recommendations or strategies. You’ll also want to check out the official workbook “Storytelling With Data: Let’s Practice!

3. DataStory: Explain Data and Inspire Action Through Story by Nancy Duarte

DataStory: Explain Data and Inspire Action Through Story book cover

Duarte’s DataStory is a fantastic companion read to Storytelling With Data.

DataStory focuses on helping you share data insights using storytelling principles. You’ll learn how to communicate data to decision-makers, develop story structures that spark action, and craft clear business recommendations.

With this book, you’ll learn how to transform numbers into persuasive narratives. And that’s a skill you want to include on your LinkedIn profile!

4. Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller

You’ll find StoryBrand on most marketing or storytelling book lists. Miller presents a unique StoryBrand Framework where your customer is the hero, not your brand.

As you move through the book, you’ll create your own “BrandScript” and learn how to implement it on your website. Here’s the thing – when you implement the StoryBrand framework it can come across sales-y (Google “storybrand website examples” to see what I mean).

So if you take away one thing from the book to transform your marketing? Position your audience as the hero of their story, and orient your marketing around their challenges, needs, and aspirations.

5. The Best Story Wins: How to Leverage Hollywood Storytelling in Business and Beyond by Matthew Luhn

Book cover for The Best Story Wins: How to Leverage Hollywood Storytelling in Business and Beyond

Luhn tackles principles of storytelling in The Best Story Wins through the “Hero’s Journey” framework, and he uses movies like Monsters Inc., Cars, and Toy Story as examples. And that’s because – surprise! – Luhn is former writer and Pixar storyteller.

In Best Story Wins, you’ll learn about universal story themes, story structures, and how to create relatable and authentic characters.

Luhn concludes with insights on how to create an innovative culture in the workplace, and shares some brief writing tips and techniques.

I also recommend following Luhn on Instagram @matthewluhnstory.

6. Unleash the Power of Storytelling: Win Hearts, Change Minds, Get Results by Rob Bisenbach

Book cover for Unleash the Power of Storytelling: Win Hearts, Change Minds, Get Results

This 3-part book provides lots of prompts, tips, and examples to help you incorporate stories into everyday life.

Part one is packed with “storytelling essentials.” Biesenbach offers six ingredients for powerful stories, a five-step process for creating stories, and a three-part story structure. He also provides five questions to test the strength of your stories, and some tips to ensure your story taps into a core human emotion.

In part two Biesenbach covers “advanced storytelling” which includes how and where to find stories, mistakes to avoid in storytelling, and how to refine your stories.

Part three concludes with “applied storytelling” where you’ll learn how to use stories in presentations, toasts and eulogies, personal branding, and job interviews.

A highly practical read!

There you have it – 6 books about storytelling to read in 2021!

BONUS: Right now, I’m in the middle of “Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life through the Power of Storytelling“, and I have “Storytelling Leadership: Creating Authentic Connections” by Charles Vogl in my Amazon cart.

Will you be you adding any of these storytelling books to your reading list?

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