Our Podcast Guests Share Their Favorite Books of All Time
Pressboard is a company built on the principles of great storytelling. We develop technology that helps brands and publishers create amazing stories; we publish blog posts, thought leadership articles and educational courseware about the importance of storytelling in content marketing; heck, we even started a book club so we could share our favorite stories with the world.
No matter who we interviewed on the first season of our podcast, The Science of Storytelling, one thing remained constant: we asked them to tell us their favorite book or movie of all time and explain why it resonates with them. Here’s a collection of their choices, which span across many genres and offer a better understanding of the people who love them.
Inspired by Indy
Interviewee: Chris Sweigart, Creative Director, GET Creative
Movie: Raiders of the Lost Ark – Steven Spielberg (director), Lawrence Kasdan (screenplay), George Lucas (story)
Synopsis: A cultural touchstone, the Indiana Jones series blazed onto the Hollywood scene in 1981, creating ripples that can still be felt today. Raiders of the Lost Ark is the first installment in the franchise, in which archaeologist Henry Walton “Indiana” Jones must beat a group of Nazis to a religious relic which is crucial to their plans for world domination.
“I got into journalism and reporting because I wanted adventure and to see the world, and I’ve always been fascinated by history and how that shapes the world that we live in today,” explains Sweigart.
You can read the full interview with Sweigart here.
Little Potter, Big City
Episode: S1E2: The City That Never Cooks
Interviewee: Tom Stern, Director of Sales, Gothamist
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: In the fourth installment of the beloved Harry Potter series, Hogwarts is abuzz with drama surrounding the Quidditch World Cup. Did Harry put his name in the Goblet of Fire? Will his plucky nerve be enough to get him through the perilous challenges that lie ahead? The answers to these questions (and more!) lay inside the pages of this blood-pumping, yet endlessly charming, read.
The White Van: Patrick Hoffman’s The White Van transports the reader to the seedy underbelly of the Tenderloin neighborhood in San Francisco, throwing together drug-hustling Emily Rosario and wayward cop Leo Elias in a cat-and-mouse chase. Full of twists and turns, this book takes an unflinching look at human nature, coolly observing the morally ambiguous decisions that its characters make in dire situations.
“When my friends listen to this, they’ll laugh at me because I’m a huge closeted nerd and a big Harry Potter guy. It seems like the obvious answer, but my favorite of those is the Goblet of Fire,” shares Stern. “[Right now, I’m reading] The White Van by Patrick Hoffman. I was on a couple of planes last weekend and it’s hard to put down. The ding comes on and you can take your seatbelt off, but you just want to keep reading.”
You can read the full interview with Stern here.
Bloody Good Reads
Episode: S1E3: What Defines Beauty?
Interviewees: Nina Van Brunt, Executive Producer and Creative Director, Mic; Nick Heitz, Vice President National Sales, Mic
Books: Van Brunt’s pick: Dracula – Bram Stoker; Heitz’s pick: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup – John Carreyou
Dracula: Dracula is one of those books that’s so ingrained in popular culture, it’s hard to imagine a time when it didn’t exist. Many are likely familiar with the plot, but we’ll provide a short summary here just in case. Count Dracula, the infamous bloodsucker himself, makes the move from England to Transylvania to spread his undead curse, but is met with resistance in the form of Professor Abraham Van Helsing and his team.
“[Dracula is] written in the POV of the person who is either writing the letter or the diary entry, or you’ll see press clippings from something that happened. You are omniscient, and the characters in the story are not. It’s one of the best suspense thrillers of all time,” says Van Brunt.
Bad Blood: Elizabeth Holmes, the brain behind the multi-billion-dollar medical startup, Theranos, was said to be the next Steve Jobs. Then The Wall Street Journal broke the story: that incredible, life-changing blood test machine Holmes’ team had created? It didn’t even work. This thrilling non-fiction work is filled with all the dirty details of Theranos’ rise and fall, written by the same journalist who uncovered them.
“I read [Bad Blood] in two days, which is very fast for me. The way I have taken the learnings from that [book] is really just, be genuine, be humble and make sure that any time you’re in business, you’re being as transparent and forthright as you can,” explains Heitz.
You can read the full interview with Van Brunt and Heitz here.
#1 Dad Book
Episode: S1E4: Father(ly) Knows Best
Interviewee: Michael Rothman, Co-founder and CEO, Fatherly
Book: My Father The – Fatherly (release date TBA)
Synopsis: Fatherly’s new volume, inspired by their online My Father The franchise, will be made up of stories from the sons and daughters of famous fathers. It will be formatted as a coffee table book, complete with personal mementos from the lives of men like John Wayne, Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan. A launch date has yet to be announced, but the Fatherly team is incredibly (and justifiably) excited about what’s sure to be a fascinating and moving collection of stories.
“[The book will share] intimate portraits of men that the public knows, but doesn’t necessarily know their more intimate stories,” says Rothman.
You can read the full interview with Rothman here.
A Literary Layup
Episode: S1E5: Dunking on Fashion Dreams (release date: May 15)
Interviewee: Beckley Mason, Senior Director Branded Content Production and Content Strategy, Bleacher Report
Book: A Sense of Where You Are: Bill Bradley at Princeton – John McPhee
Synopsis: John McPhee’s biographical story about former basketball star, Bill Bradley, explores the athlete’s time at Princeton before he moved on to the New York Knicks. Having met Bradley when he was just a young up-and-comer in college ball, McPhee is able to offer an inside look at how he became the man he is today, from his dogged personality to his tireless training regime.
“The idea which attracted me as a high school basketball player was [Bradley’s] sense of where to be on the court and how to take advantage of maybe not being the most athletic guy, but knowing how to move, where to be and how to get there first,” says Mason. “[It’s also a] metaphor for how he moved through his career.”
You can read the full interview with Mason here.
Finding Your Inner Quixote
Episode: S1E6: Riding the Rails to NYC’s Forgotten Past (release date: May 29)
Interviewee: Jordan Schultz, Director, Marketing and Audience, Atlas Obscura
Book: Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes
Synopsis: This 17th-century gem has it all: action, adventure, chivalry and even two friends having philosophical debates while tipsy on wine. With Don Quixote, the world was granted a timeless work of fiction, a new character archetype and even a new word (“quixotic,” meaning exceedingly idealistic). Whether you find the book deeply depressing or gut-splittingly hilarious (critics are divided on this one), its influence on modern literature cannot be overstated.
“This is the most Atlas Obscura answer you’ll ever receive: I’m a big fan of Don Quixote,” laughs Schultz. “I think Don Quixote is a little bit inside of all of us. We’re all explorers in some way and we all travel the world or travel our own backyards and have to come to terms with our realties and how they relate to other people.”
You can read the full interview with Schultz here.
Travels with Kerouac
Episode: S1E7: Creating Safe Spaces Online (release date: June 12)
Interviewee: Chris Stefanyk, Head of Brand Partnerships, Wattpad
Book: On the Road – Jack Kerouac
Synopsis: Without a doubt the most iconic novel of the Beat Generation, Kerouac’s On the Road is a fictional montage of the author’s adventures across the United States. Kerouac uses his trademark stream of consciousness style to describe the sprawling plains, restless small towns and booming cities that make up the country, leaving an indelible mark on 20th-century literature in the process.
“On the fiction side, [my favorite book is] probably On the Road, Jack Kerouac. Whenever I’m traveling, it’s that getaway, free-spirited book that has always resonated with me,” shares Stefanyk.
You can read the full interview with Stefanyk here.