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Ad Celebrity Book List: Alan Russell

Posted on June 18, 2007 and read 1,171 times

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A number of creatives build their careers by moving from shop to shop, going wherever opportunity takes them. Then there is Alan Russell, a man whose successes were built under one roof for nearly two decades. Alan has been instrumental in turning the agency formerly known as Palmer Jarvis into one of the most awarded shops in the DDB network, DDB Canada.


Let’s see what Alan is reading when he’s not helming such an award-winning creative department.


On the Road
By: Jack Kerouac
Next time you find yourself complaining about a short deadline, consider that the man who gave birth to the Beat Generation sat down at his typewriter and, in a three week frenzy of inspiration, completed a novel that defined a generation and sent thousands of kids out to search for the soul of America. “What’s your road, man? Holyboy road, madman road, guppy road, any road. It’s an anywhere road for anybody anyhow.”


The Miracle of Castel Di Sangro
By: Joe McGinnis

I have read many football (aka soccer) books, but this one wins the cup. It’s not about the Manchester Uniteds or Real Madrids of the world, rather that of a small town club in a lower Italian league. Remarkably, for a footy book, it’s written by an American, who spends a season at Castel Di Sangro and is given direct access to the players and coach, along with all their human attributes and failings.


The Ascent of Rum Doodle
By: W.E. Bowman

I’ve read this book several times and still find it one of the funniest creations on the printed page. It was first published in 1956 and is a spoof about the ascent of a 40,000-and-a-half foot mountain, inspired by the conquest of Everest. The story is told by the book’s central and unforgettable character, Binder, who is to his climbing team what David Brent (The Office) is to his staff. Hilarious.


Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
By: Shunryo Suzuki-Roshi

I’ve always been interested in Zen Buddhism and actually spent a week at Shasta Abbey in California when I was younger. This book uses simple language to explain the practice of Zen, based on the premise that the mind of the beginner is empty, free of the habits of the expert, ready to accept and be open to all possibilities. Wish we could find a few more clients like that.


A long way gone. Memoirs of a boy soldier.
By: Ishmael Beah

I can’t remember precisely what I was doing at age thirteen, but I know for sure I wasn’t wandering the jungles of Sierra Leone wielding an AK 47. In many wars, children are now the soldiers of choice and Ishmael Beah used to be one of them. I made the mistake of taking this autobiography on vacation with me. Reading his gripping story by the pool with a cold beer only magnified the already colossal differences between our worlds.


Under Milk Wood
By: Dylan Thomas

I like to read drama every so often, though I’d suggest this is as much poetry as it is a play. It’s the story of the inhabitants of Llareggub (I only recently found out this is “Bugger All” spelt backwards) a mythical Welsh seaside community, revealed within the cycle of a single day. Funnily enough, there is a recent UK VW ad that has a beautiful recording by Richard Burton from Under Milk Wood as its soundtrack. Dammit, wish I’d thought of that.


Notes from a small island
By: Bill Bryson

I devour travel books, I love humour, I like walking and I’m an Anglophile, so this is a no-brainer. American Bill Bryson wanders the coastline and villages of Britain sharing witty, detailed observations of life and idiosyncrasies in his adopted homeland.


Wreckers of Civilisation
By: Simon Ford

Everyone’s got a copy of this seminal tome on the emergence of industrial music and the creation of pre-punk band Throbbing Gristle, right? Ok, I do, because it’s the story of my childhood mate, Neil Megson, who transformed himself into Genesis P Orridge and embarked on an amazing artistic and musical journey that makes my career in advertising seem as banal as a loaf of white bread.


My Family and Other Animals
By: Gerald Durrell

I made my first visit of many to the Greek Islands solely on the basis of having read this autobiography. Set on the idyllic island of Corfu, it is the story of a larger-than-life family’s relocation to Greece and the subsequent mix of wonderfully eccentric characters who enter their world. Buy the book, then book the plane ticket.


The Complete Monty Python’s Flying Circus

And now for something completely different. I’ve presented more than one 30 second script in my time that feature the words “Cut to medium shot of John Cleese with maniacal grin”, but no takers to date. The minister of silly walks, the dead parrot, the cheese shop, eric the ‘alibut, it’s all here. Nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more.






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