C8 Celebrates: The Stories that Shaped Us

March 1, 2023By Paula ElliottInsights

At C8 Consulting, we believe that stories have the ability to inspire, connect, and resonate with audiences. We channel this in our day to day, creating compelling narratives for our brands that will cut through the noise to reach the right people at the right time. But for many of us, our interest in storytelling began long before our careers and continues to hold a place in our heart.

That’s why we’re taking the opportunity to celebrate World Book Day by sharing some of our favourite books. From data-driven non-fiction to emotive recollections of companionship, our team has come together to curate a list of books that have left a lasting impact on us, offering an insight into each team member’s perspectives on the world and perhaps even inspiring your next read.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into our team’s favourite books…

Paula Elliott – Spare, Prince Harry

After so much controversy, including early revelations when the book was accidently put on sale in Spain, Prince Harry’s memoir, Spare, piqued my interest.  I must confess I’m a bit of a royal watcher and I read Andrew Morton’s book, Diana – The True Story, so I was naturally intrigued to read Harry’s version of royal life.

It’s a strange mix of confession and rant, partly sad, but also a love story. As one BBC journalist said: “In places it feels like the longest angry drunk text ever sent. It’s the view from inside a surreal goldfish bowl and an ‘unending Truman Show’.”

I found it quite an intimate read, captivatingly frank, and it highlighted to me what it must feel like to live in the spotlight of fame, when even the smallest or most innocuous details of your life get regularly reported or mis-reported by the media. From my perspective, it was the small snippets of everyday life, at Sandringham, Balmoral etc, that caught my imagination, rather than the set-piece royal occasions. They offer a glimpse into the intricacies of Royal Life while revealing how little we all know – but how we all invariably have an opinion.

Having finished the book I’m not sure I would recommend it, but that said, I enjoyed the read.

Michelle Hatcher – She and Her Cat, Makoto Shinkai and Naruki Nagakawa

‘She and Her Cat’ is a beautiful story. It’s about a young woman and her cat, her only companion. The cat’s perspective shows how the woman moves through life, her struggles, and her joys. The cat’s narration is tender, observant, and full of insights into life. It is a simple but poetic exploration of the bond between humans and animals.

The story’s strength lies in its simplicity, as it evokes a range of emotions with just a few lines of dialogue and minimal illustrations. The artwork is fascinating, as it captures the essence of the story’s characters and their surroundings, portraying the woman’s world with realism.

“She and Her Cat” is a brilliant read because it illustrates the beauty and complexity of ordinary life – a story that is immediately visual in your mind. It stays with you even after a few pages. It explores human emotions and relationships through a cat’s perspective. It is thought-provoking and deeply moving, and as a cat person, I loved it!

Jim Pople – A promised land, Barack Obama

I am currently reading the first of two planned memoirs by former President of the United States, Barack Obama. Despite its 700+ word length, I am captivated by the early life and political glory of a man who was arguably the first US president that I paid any real attention to. I remember watching him announce his candidacy for president in February 2007, being old enough in November 2008 to appreciate the magnitude of what he achieved by being elected to the presidency, and experienced – thanks to rolling news and social media – most of the key events of both of his two terms.

So of course, many of the events covered in the book are familiar to me. This doesn’t diminish any of my enjoyment whilst reading; in fact, it’s the same obsessiveness I feel when reading non-fiction about events that preceded my birth.

Whilst I haven’t listened to the audiobook version, it is hard not to hear Obama’s distinctive voice when reading his words. In my view, he’s one of the greatest orators to have ever lived. Overall, he comes across as a decent and good man, something which can’t be said of many presidents.

All of this is what has hooked me as I work my way through this first book (albeit, only covering the first 2.5 years of his 8 years in office). Roll on memoir number two!

Megan Mackintosh – Everybody Lies, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz 

I was recommended this book at university as part of an experimental piece of coursework. At the time, it was a refreshing change from heavy classic texts. On reflection, it is without doubt the book that drove me to work in technology.

“Everybody Lies” exposes the ways in which our digital lives reveal more about ourselves than we could ever know or would ever want to reveal – so much so that Seth proposes Google data as a means to qualitatively test theories of the unconscious.

Honestly, I think about this book at least once a month. It is a genuinely funny, very clever book about modern society, but it’s also a warning to understand the power that our data really holds. It has made me more mindful of what information organisations hold about me, exactly why that data is so valuable, and what it could do in the wrong hands. Despite this, it’s a very light read!

Ameesha Patel – Milk and Honey, Rupi Kaur

Rupi Kaur, a female author of Indian ethnicity,  wrote, illustrated, and self-published her first poetry collection, ‘milk and honey’ in 2014. The now critically acclaimed book is split into four chapters touching upon universal themes such as love, loss, trauma, healing, femininity, and migration. This collection of words, while in many ways simple, addresses some of the darkest and most hopeful matters of the human heart.

Her work was originally rejected but that says more about her as a person and her resilience to never take no for an answer.

Kaur’s poetry is unlike traditional poetry. Many of the pages have a familiar style, … each combined with delicate, simple drawings which echo the story. My industry’s approach to storytelling, as a means of communicating a brand’s message in a more engaging and memorable way, helps me to recognise that Kaur’s signature poetic form, combine with these doodles, are her brand.

If you aren’t a big fan of poetry, this book could get you interested in it.

Natalie Young – The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, Maggie O’Farrell

I was lucky enough to be gifted ‘The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox’ by Maggie O’Farrell this year for Secret Santa with a sweet note explaining it was my friend’s favourite book of the year, and upon reading I quickly understood why!

Full of twists and turns, powerful emotions, and shocks, I found this a thoroughly enjoyable read despite ultimately being quite a heartbreaking book.

The narrator switches between three characters, sometimes mid-sentence, and across three different time periods, pushing the reader to keep up with where O’Farrell decides to launch them. It is an unusual but refreshing style as events in the book unfold. It is also a powerful reminder of the injustices women faced in the past, which is why it has been on my mind as we head towards International Women’s Day.

All in all, I couldn’t put it down and I am keen to seek out other books by O’Farrell. If you read it, let me know what you think!

John Vignaux – The World in 2050: How to Think About and Prepare for the Future,  Hamish McRae

Hamish McRae’s “The World in 2050” is a great read for anyone curious about what the future may hold. McRae is a respected economist and journalist who has been making predictions about the future for decades. “The World in 2050” is a follow-up to the previous, “The World in 2020,” which predicted many of today’s trends.

McRae takes a long-term view of the major economic, social, and technological trends that will shape the world over the next few decades. He offers compelling arguments for why we need to start thinking about the future today, and presents a roadmap for how we can prepare for the coming changes.

What struck me most in this book is McRae’s approach. He presents a balanced and nuanced view of the future, acknowledging the challenges that lie ahead while also highlighting the opportunities. His insights are grounded in data and research but presented in an accessible and engaging way.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who is curious, or wary, of the future. McRae’s insights are timely, thought-provoking, and backed by decades of experience. Whether you’re a business leader, a policy maker, or just someone who wants to better understand the world around you, this book is a must-read.

Ceren Marshall – The Island of Sea Women, Lisa See

One of the recent books that truly captivated me is Lisa See’s Island of Sea Women. The book, set on a little Korean island called Jeju, south of the Korean Peninsula, is based on events in the Japanese colonial period of Korea in the 1930s and 1940s, followed by World War II and the Korean War. Through a multi-generational story line, See connects these historic events to today’s Jeju, and the wider modern world

Although the story is based on actual events, the main characters and their individual stories are fictionalised. It is an impressive example of creating compelling fiction through extensive research and using primary sources. Lisa See is a master of storytelling, not just through historical facts but also in her spectacular depiction of unique Jeju culture and hanyeo traditions.

I was lucky enough to read this book during my 437km hike around the incredible Jeju Island. Learning the history, the cultural, and societal structure of the island made the journey one of a kind for me. This was a similar experience to when I found myself at the same temple in Vietnam where Marguerite Duras vividly described Vietnamese university graduation ceremonies in her book, North China Lover. I am always impressed when storytelling meets real life, informing me about the importance of places to those who have lived there, and allowing me to feel and experience these places with an additional depth.