This weeks Bookshelf comes from the collective mind of WE ARE Pi; a creative agency responsible for more than enough (and yet they keep coming) integrated creative solutions – notably for the likes of TEDx which, just yesterday, they won a Cannes Lion for – and who can be satisfyingly surmised by a maxim: “Ideas worth doing.”
Their bookshelf is bare because they’ve just moved studios, but is full of potential nonetheless (is this a metaphor?!) Also they’ve a few more selections than is the norm with this feature. You’ll get why we let them as soon as you’ve finished reading their picks from running to walking, psychoanalysing the Mr Men series to a drunk ribald anti-hero – these choices reflect a creative studio whose only continuity we can point at is the mere fact that their literary references are all so wildly different and yet together they make such coherent, good work. Tenuous, perhaps, but true.
Haruki Murakami: What I Talk about when I Talk about Running
Last year I began to take running seriously. I trained for nearly six months for my first marathon in Berlin. It was an extraordinary experience, a genuine challenge on both my body and mind. I could even go as far to say that it was life changing. Having finished the marathon, I felt like I needed to take a break to avoid falling out of love with the act of running. I was put onto the memoir of Haruki Murakami. As I read through his passages, I felt like our thoughts were meeting in an ethereal space. His words eloquently mirrored thoughts I discovered within this newfound satisfaction. The story is one part sport and one part travelogue and wrapped around it is the romantic sense of reminiscence that any fan of long distance running would appreciate. Review by Jamie Kim, co-founder of WE ARE Pi.
Mark Harnden: In the Dark Backyard
Did you ever think that the stress of student life and the endless benders would drive you mad? Here’s a funny and candid biographical account of a young man who crossed that line and descended into manic psychosis. It started going wrong for Mark in the drug-addled world of student parties, and left him with a painful ten years in and out of medical care. He gives a frank and amusing account of his train-stealing adventures and attempted vagrancy, as he escaped from university and reality. His experience bouncing around inside the British mental health system, as well as some startling insights inside the mind of a “madman”, leaves the reader with a sense of hope that one can always appreciate the journey through life, however crazy it gets. Review by Barney Hobson, creative partner at WE ARE Pi.
Roger Hargreaves: Mr Noisy
I grew up with Roger Hargreaves psychoanalytical series of children’s books, my earliest experience with personality segmentation. As a child the colourful illustrated characters on the covers fascinated me as much as the stories within. On a recent trip to London I picked up a copy of Mr Noisy, drawn by nostalgia and the similarities between him and I. Although still wonderfully unruly, two things struck me about his seemingly colourful life: Firstly, the community neutralises Mr Noisy’s big personality within 35 short pages, rendering him a lesser, Mr Whisperer. Secondly, on the back cover I was reminded that Mr Men vary from worrisome and grumpy to impossible, muddled, even rude. I am saddened that Mr Noisy was silenced. Alas, here forth my faith in rich and diverse societies will have to rest in the hands of the remaining anti-social Mrs Men and Women. Review by Alex Bennett Grant, co-founder of WE ARE Pi.
Hunter S. Thompson: The Rum Diary
This is the story of my alter ego. Paul Kemp, a journalist who settles into the steam of Puerto Rico looking for real trouble without giving it a name. He is twisted, hardly ever sober, and wildly talented at finding a good dose of adventure without a scratch to show for it. If he’s not hanging out in his local den, he’s running sideways from his lunatic colleagues or sweating lust. He writes on the side of life with a glass of rum in one hand and the beach in the other. And in his imagination, both hands would be all over one delectable girl – the centre of his stewing inner tension. It’s a believable and laughable life that sadly seems reserved for only a man to experience. Thanks to Hunter, I got a taste. Review by Jamie Kim, co-founder of WE ARE Pi.
Ian Macdonald: Revolution in the Head
If you want to know why the Beatles really split up turn to page 357. Review by Rick Chant, creative partner at WE ARE Pi.
John Hegarty: Hegarty on Advertising
Whatever folk say, we are all secretly fascinated by another perspective on the ad industry history that bloated guts, broke pencils and built global brands. Creative advertising legend, founder of BBH, and wine purveyor, John Hegarty, writes playfully and honestly of his ebb and flow to success. Having enjoyed the ride from cover to cover, I decided that this was the last book I will read about the short history of creative advertising. I read Hegarty while in Paris and finished it under the sunset of the Seine. Happy am I to have lived vicariously through the legends of old, I am now excited to live the digital transformation of today. Most of all I look forward to dipping a toe in the unknown paths of tomorrow, advertising or otherwise. Review by Alex Bennett Grant, co-founder of WE ARE Pi.
Patrick Leigh Fermor: A Time of Gifts
As a young man, the author walked across Europe in 1934, bouncing from cowshed to castle on his way to Constantinople. The account is written by Fermor as an old man, looking back with a fond eye that absorbed every detail of his youthful journey; full of friendships, generosity and observations of a world that was about to be obliterated by war.
This book inspired me to follow his tracks from London to Istanbul, through an Eastern Europe that had recently shed Communism. I hitchhiked the whole way, so I got there a bit quicker than Patrick, but armed with his insights, I travelled with one foot in the past, and could see the next chapter of history unfolding around me. Review by Barney Hobson, creative partner at WE ARE Pi.