A Well-Read Agency

At the beginning of June, Swash Labs launched an agency-wide summer reading challenge. The rules are simple: read books! But we’re not just reading books, we’re talking about them and even sharing them. The challenge is part team-building initiative, part professional-development project, and mostly a celebration of our collective nerdiness. I think there’s also a prize at the end of the summer, but that’s besides the point. What matters is BOOKS.

For your literary pleasure, I’ve gathered a master list of the titles we’ve read through June and some of our thoughts about them here. Throughout the month of July, we're going to make sure you can keep up with our bookish escapades on Instagram @swashlabs, where we’ll be sharing our #swashreads in real time with our friends. We’d love to hear what you’re reading too- maybe you have some recommendations for team Swash?

#SwashReads for June 2016

Stephanie, Director of Media & Planning, read:

Unbearable Lightness A Story of Loss and Gain by Portia De Rossi

Matchless, a Christmas Story by Gregory Maguire

Eating in the Light of the Moon by Anita Johnston

Her takeaway of Unbearable Lightness A Story of Loss and Gain by Portia De Rossi:

"This is an excellent autobiography that details in very personal and poetic writing Portia’s struggle with her weight during the start of her career (there is mention of her time on set of Ally McBeal) and the things she went through to get into recovery with her eating disorder. There are a lot of references to The Beauty Myth in passing and that book has been on my list forever so it will likely be a read later this summer."


Charlie, Captain Badass, read:

Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar

Think On These Things by Jiddu Krishnamurti

Emergency by Neil Strauss

Charlie’s thoughts on Think On These Things by Jiddu Krishnamurti:

“This is a collection of transcriptions of talks Krishnamurti gave in India. He supports a life fully immersed in your surroundings and your actual self, without all the trappings he sees in the traditional Buddhist practices. In the most laymen terms possible, he’s suggesting to stop and smell the roses. A particular favorite passage of mine is about how to know if you are doing the right thing: “It is love alone that leads to right action. What brings order in the world is to love and let love do what it will.”


Scott, Director of Insights & Research

Scott read The Semisovereign People by E.E. Schattschneider, and gave us a little recap of it:

“When I read this previously in grad school, it blew me away. I picked it up again because it's one of the cornerstone books of Realignment Theory in US Politics (the idea that periodically the American two-party system completely remakes itself in critical election years). There have been six or seven previous party realignments and a lot of folks who talk about such things have been talking about whether the 2016 election is a critical election ushering in a realignment.  The basic idea is that in the US two-party system there's not just one cleavage separating the two parties but a second "hidden" cleavage that separates the audience of potential voters into one group available for mobilization by the parties and another group who, basically, don't give a rat's ass about what the two parties are arguing about. In other words, the second cleavage shapes turnout and "explains" how some people can see two parties as "basically the same" while other people can become heavily polarized by exactly the same choice.”


As for myself, I read the following awesome books:

On Writing by Marguerite Duras

Cronopios and Famas by Julio Cortázar

Distant Star by Roberto Bolaño

Mesquite Manual by Leslie Marie Aguilar

Dream With a Glass Chamber by Aricka Foreman

Extracting the Stone of Madness by Alejandra Pizarnik


I like to talk about books and writing and writers… a lot. I had a lot to say but one of my more relevant musings was a highlights from my read of Cronopios and Famas by Julio Cortázar, which I thought Team Creative would at least get a kick out of:

“There was a story (in the collection entitled Unstable Stuff) called Story With No Moral about a guy who is essentially a copywriter making a sales call to an important dictator and inadvertently starts a disastrous political revolution. I don't want to spoil too much more, but it starts like this:

‘A man sold cries and words, and he got along all right although he was always running into people who argued about his prices and demanded discounts. The man almost always gave in, and that way he was able to sell a lot of cries to street vendors, a few sighs which ladies on annuities usually bought, and words for fence posters, wall placards, slogans, letterheads, business cards, and used jokes….’ ”

Looks like the rest of the team is still making it through their first reads of the summer. To be fair, June went by waaaaay too fast. Josh the Boss is currently reading Bucky Fucking Dent by David Duchovny and The Fireman by Joe Hill. Joan is soaking up A Keeper of Bees: Notes on Hive and Home by Allison Wallace to help inspire her new beekeeping hobby. Diana is reading 11/22/63 by Stephen King and Dragon Song by Anne McCaffrey. Jess was going to review half a book, but what it could be is still shrouded in mystery... we'll get down to the bottom of it in July. Jon says he doesn’t read books, but he’s a pretty busy dude right now so we’ll give him a pass. Andi could not be reached for comment at this time, as she is probably somewhere in the Arkansas wilderness building a campfire. And hopefully reading a book.