Ever since the beginning of time, humans have used one medium consistently to leave their mark on the world; story-telling. It is a part of human nature. Humans used stories to express themselves before they had a properly constructed language to talk in the form of cave drawings. The evolution of story-telling leaves us today with the art of story-telling in its contemporary forms. Story-telling has taken different forms today than before, social media is the most common means available for everyone to make sure that their story gets known in the world. Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. are the contemporary cave paintings.
What are the Best Storytelling Books to read?
No matter what form of stories we are most comfortable with, great stories captivate all of us. They hold their reader or listener or watcher immobile with curiosity, transfixed on what the other person might be communicating to them.
The question we are seeking an answer to is, what differentiates the great stories from the mediocre ones? And how can you make sure that the story you write is one of the great ones?
Well, we have prepared a collection of the best books on the art of story-telling. These books will guide you to get the story you want out in the world.
Best Books on Storytelling: Our Top 20 Picks
Here are some of the best storytelling books that you can consider to expand your knowledge on the subject:
1. Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message so Customers Will Listen
The general perception of a business is just numbers and numbers. They are dull and boring and least likely to grab attention and retain it. How can you make your business grow and stand out from the crowd? How can you make sure you don’t get lost in the masses?
Your brand needs to have a story that connects your business to your consumer. It needs that edge to make sure your customers chooses you and keeps choosing you. It needs a story everyone can relate to and feel for.
The book talks about the seven universal elements of outstanding stories and how it can relate to business. Every brand needs a story that makes their customer realize why they need a product and why they need it now.
- Authors: Donald Miller (Author)
- Publisher: HarperCollins Leadership; Illustrated Edition (October 10, 2017)
- Pages: 240 pages
2. Storytelling with Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals
There are two ways to inform others about data; the bad way and the good way. The bad way is mostly prevalent that is to bore others with data. The good way takes skill, precision and training; engaging in a story.
The book focuses on how to present your data in an informative and yet, appealing manner to keep your readers captivated and not bore them to death.
The book will teach you how to analyze your data and the target audience, shortlist the best way to deliver your information, organize your data effectively, visualize your data and use the art of story-telling to give a heart-felt presentation.
Every data has a human element and that human element can be communicated to its target audience effectively through an epic story.
- Authors: Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic (Author)
- Publisher: Wiley; 1st Edition (November 2, 2015)
- Pages: 288 pages
3. Ted Talks Storytelling: 23 Storytelling Techniques from the Best TED Talks
No matter where you are or what is happening in your life, when a TED Talk comes in front of you, you are going to stop and watch it no matter how long it might be. What is the reason? What makes TED Talks so mesmerizing? Besides, how can you make sure that when you talk or deliver a presentation, you captivate your audience just as well?
The author has taken an analytical perspective on TED Talks and has concluded that the magic of TED Talks lies in the art of storytelling.
Notable and distinguished stories are able to evoke an emotion inside us while we are wrapped up in it. That emotion leaves a mark on us and that’s how TED Talks make an impact on us.
The book is replete with examples of real TED Talks to help us navigate how to give presentations to the best of our abilities.
- Authors: Akash Karia (Author)
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 3rd Edition (January 11, 2015)
- Pages: 72 pages
4. Stories That Stick: How Story-telling Can Captivate Customers, Influence Audiences and Transform Your Business
This book not only guides you how to tell your stories well to promote your business but this book cuts down to what are the kind of stories you need to pass on to the consumers of your business to retain their attention.
The author further beaks down those stories into four categories. According to her, these are the categories:
- The Value Story
- The Founder Story
- The Purpose Story
- The Customer Story
How these stories differ from one another and how each type fulfills a specific purpose is valuable knowledge everyone should have for a successful business.
Story-telling and especially exceptional story-telling is not a talent; it is a skill, that everyone can cultivate, even you. Furthermore, it’s a skill that can raise your level up from the mediocre to the impressive.
- Authors: Kindra Hall (Author)
- Publisher: HarperCollins Leadership (September 24, 2019)
- Pages: 240 pages
5. The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human
Human beings have always been interested in stories of shapes and forms. What is a story? It is, but a narrative for how events unfold. And man is a “story telling animal.”
The author has his own theory of storytelling. According to hi, stories help us make sense of life’s unpredictability.
The author draws conclusions from creative fields as well as scientific fields and then brings to light their connection with how we as humans functions because of stories. He analyses both the narratives; the light and the dark.
Story-telling is the process through which ideas are manifested in reality. It is as intrinsic to our human nature as is joy or misery. Moreover, our brain responds to stories the way it would in a real life situation.
This book unfolds the magic of great story telling.
- Authors: Jonathan Gottschall (Author)
- Publisher: Mariner Books; 1st Edition (April 10, 2012)
- Pages: 271 pages
6. Cinematic Storytelling: the 100 Most Powerful Film Conventions Every Filmmaker Must Know
Telling a story to one person sounds a little daunting but doable but telling that story to millions and making sure they all perceive it in their own individual yet positive way, it sounds impossible and yet it is done.
In Cinematic Storytelling: the 100 Most Powerful Film Conventions Every Filmmaker Must Know, the author breaks down the rules of storytelling; when to follow them and how to break them. It is easy to comprehend and gives sequential guidelines for every new cinematographer. It is an informative and comprehensive guide and instructs about the strategies and devices used and uses visual pictography to further illustrate its point. It teaches you how to capture your audiences’ attention and use it to your advantage.
The book is an interesting read for anyone mildly interested in filmmaking to someone making a career out of it.
- Authors: Jennifer Van Sijll (Author)
- Publisher: Michael Wiese Productions; 2nd Edition (August 1, 2005)
- Pages: 257 pages
7. The Art of Storytelling: Easy Steps to Presenting an Unforgettable Story
We all want to gain attention and praise from the people around us. The most common way for us to do this is to narrate an amazing story. If the outcome is ignorance instead of the attention and praise we crave, we become demoralized. Craving attention is as intrinsic to our human nature as breathing. Everybody wants to be seen and to be heard.
The author has scrutinized the art of storytelling critically to give a detailed step by step account of the process of storytelling. Through his personal experience of his radical transformation from a stutter to a storyteller, he has perfected his stories. He gives us all the strategies to make a story work; how to talk a story and how to walk a story. If you want to sure your stories are heard, this book is for you.
- Authors: John Walsh (Author)
- Publisher: Moody Publishers; New Edition (January 1, 2014)
- Pages: 160 pages
8. Strategic Storytelling: How to Create Persuasive Business Presentations
Stories are basically ideas that are put to fruition. Then why do some ideas stick and why do some ideas evaporate into oblivion? More importantly, why do some businesses prosper and why do most succumb to failure.
The book offers a tantalizing detailed account of how to tell your business story; how to attract the users you need and how to venture towards the future prospects you want. The author has done extensive research and has presented his study for all to utilize. His research is based on real world examples from prosperous firms and businesses all around the globe.
It gets into the specifics and even guides you how to perfect your verbal, digital and visual skillset to get the results for your business you desire.
- Authors: Dave McKinsey (Author)
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (November 8, 2014)
- Pages: 266 pages
9. Design is Storytelling
Good stories bring an idea to life, they invoke an emotion that makes it relatable for every person on the planet, they solve the problem by making it easier for us to comprehend and they add value to our life. Good design also brings an idea to life, it also invokes an emotion inside us, it also makes it relatable for every person, it solves a problem and it adds value to our life.
Design and storytelling are more connected than we might think. They both function on the same principles and they need to acquire attention.
The author has given a handbook for designers and storytellers alike to make their narratives more compelling. The books gives strategies and tools to make the creative process easily comprehensible for the average man.
- Authors: Ellen Lupton (Author)
- Publisher: Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; 1st Edition (November 21, 2017)
- Pages: 160 pages
10. Long Story Short: The Only Storytelling Guide You’ll Ever Need
Every person has a story inside them that is screaming to come outside. That story deserves to be heard, for you and for others. If you don’t want the whole world to know your story, share it with those around you. Stories are much more effective than any other mode of communication. They produce results much faster than a boring lecture.
This handbook on story telling offers a comedic and witty way of guiding you to spin an impactful and captivating story. The book offers examples from and for real life with an interesting and humorous way that makes it relevant for everyone from social skills to relationship problems to parenting problems.
- Authors: Margot Leitman (Author)
- Publisher: Sasquatch Books; Illustrated Edition (October 13, 2015)
- Pages: 320 pages
11. Pixar Storytelling: Rules for Effective Storytelling Based on Pixar’s Greatest Films
Storytelling is an art and to understand an art, we need to look at the masters. Pixar is one of the masters of this art. Pixar has not only been successful in making a huge amount of animated films that delight audiences of all ages but it has also gathered a rather substantial fan base that keeps coming back to the cinema to watch whatever new idea they have come up with. They have characters that people admire and relate to and are inspired by. Each and every story has an individuality and yet all share the same core story ideas.
The book includes ten chapters, each of which traverses a new unchartered territory. The book dissects the anatomy of a great story as told by Pixar and explores how each element works to bring the whole narrative together.
The book is a gem for all aspiring writers and super fans of Pixar.
- Authors: Dean Movshovitz (Author)
- Publisher: Independently published (July 26, 2018)
- Pages: 124 pages
12. Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade and Change Your Life through the Power of Storytelling
The author shares his experience as a bestselling novelist, to instruct the reader how to follow in his footsteps and tell an exceptional story.
Whether one wants to be a professional writer or just wants to be better at life, storytelling is a valuable skill for everyone.
Whether we are aware or not, we are always narrating. The narrative maybe an experience, a joke, an anecdote, a presentation or even a fun conversation. It requires a start and a finish and it requires us to grab someone’s attention.
The author advocates that every individual has a story to tell, hence everyone is “storyworthy”. That story deserves to be heard too. It is up to us to master the art of storytelling and ensure that our story leaves its mark on the world.
- Authors: Matthew Dicks (Author), Dan Kennedy (Foreword)
- Publisher: New World Library (June 12, 2018)
- Pages: 368 pages
13. Unleash the Power of Storytelling: Win Hearts, Change Minds, Get Results
A best-seller book on story-telling, this handbook gives you a real perspective on how to write outstanding books. It walks you through the baby steps of writing to the mountains you’ll have to climb.
The books is relevant to everyone whether they want to become a good writer or a good salesman. It gives an analytical approach for engaging a person into hearing what you want to say. It reiterates that mastering the art of story-telling is important no matter who you are. It is an essential life-skill.
It includes examples and anecdotes from real life about how story-telling works and its impact on human psyche and daily interactions. It shows you how a story told well can work for you and how a story butchered can destroy you.
- Authors: Rob Biesenbach (Author)
- Publisher: Eastlawn Media (February 13, 2018)
- Pages: 178 pages
14. The Science of Storytelling
No matter which way you look at it, stories are what help us make sense of the world from the moment of conception till our demise. It is how our brain untangles the web of the complexity of everyday life and helps us function. They shape our identity, our relationships, our ambitions, our lives, our worlds. It’s what makes us human.
There is a science behind every story and how it impacts our brain. They are psychological and scientific forces at play. The ultimate storyteller is the brain; it is the origin of all great stories and it is perpetuator of great stories.
The book is an extended cheat sheet for every author-to-be. It takes us into the nitty-gritty and delivers a fool-proof formula to make a story work.
- Authors: Will Storr (Author)
- Publisher: William Collins (January 1, 2019)
15. The Power of Storytelling
Storytelling is an important life skill that is often underrated for its potential. It is an art just as much as it is a science. It is an essential component of effective communication. It is what sets the ordinary apart from the extraordinary.
The Power of Storytelling is a book that inclusively talks about storytelling; whether you are a writer, a marketing salesman, a teacher, a motivational speaker, a leader or a designer.
The book is extraordinary and puts under the microscope all the elements of a great story and delves into the specifics and details to give an informative and engaging account of the process of storytelling. It addresses all the tools and tricks to grab your audience’s attention and retain it by adding value to their life.
- Authors: Ty Bennett (Author)
- Publisher: Sound Concepts, Inc. (April 29, 2013)
- Pages: 160 pages
16. Better Selling Through Storytelling: The Essential Roadmap to Becoming a Revenue Rockstar
In the consumerist and post-capitalistic society we live in today, we all need to bring in the dollar bills to sustain our lives. But how can we attract customers? How to make our business idea transform from a dream to a reality?
Storytelling makes your product relevant for your customer, it connects you to them and helps them relate to you and your hard work. It motivates them to buy your product.
The author is a skilled storyteller himself and he lends his knowledge to his readers through practical examples and life strategies to guide them through the ups and downs of a business. He talks to the salespeople, the entrepreneurs and the dreamers and guides them on how to overcome the challenges of beating monotony and making a profitable sale.
- Authors: John Livesay (Author)
- Publisher: Morgan James Publishing (October 8, 2019)
- Pages: 192 pages
17. Documentary Storytelling
Stories are captivating on their own but how to use storytelling to make actual factual data sound interesting and not boring?
This is where Documentary Storytelling comes in. The book is an interesting read and a well-written handbook for flourishing.
The book talks about the elements of cinema and how they can help in creating a narrative for the non-fiction. The author is an Emmy Award-winning author who shares her experience and strategies for making a documentary and making sure it reaches its audience.
The book further delves into advice from other successful film makers as well such as Stanley Nelson, Cara Mertes, Kazuhiro Soda and Orlando von Einsiedel.
- Authors: Sheila Curran Bernard (Author)
- Publisher: Routledge; 4th Edition (February 11, 2016)
- Pages: 378 pages
18. Visual Storytelling: How to Speak to the Audience without Saying a Word
“A picture is worth a thousand words.”
How can a story communicate without ever uttering a single word? How can a story invoke an emotion within you strong enough to leave a mark soundlessly?
Visuals are a strong stimuli for the human being. How can we, as storytellers, use visuals to manipulate an audience and craft a great story.
The book offers a detailed guideline as to how to tell a story visually and analyses how visuals work in film and theatre to invoke an emotional response. The author uses his experience as a professor of Digital Film Production to guide us to how to “illustrate” our idea and fabricate it into reality.
- Authors: Morgan Sandler (Author)
- Publisher: Michael Wiese Productions (September 18, 2018)
- Pages: 200 pages
19. The End of Storytelling: The Future of Narrative in the Storyplex
Storytelling has existed from a long time and in the modern contemporary world, it has taken different forms and in the future, it will continue to evolve to newer and more engaging mediums.
The author’s argument in The End of Storytelling: The Future of Narrative in the Storyplex is that in order to become noteworthy in the modern world and to leave an impact, we need to familiarize and grasp a thorough understanding of these new mediums.
The book’s visual design is extremely strong and it makes the content easy to understand.
The book offers a critical comment on storytelling and how it does not work. This knowledge is detrimental to present stories that actually work. The book also offers some helpful insight to how we can use the modern technology to ad us and not hinder us to create an “immersive experience.” It offers practical and contextually and historically relevant examples to help us make our stories better.
- Authors: Stephanie Riggs (Author), Megan Hustad (Editor), Maya P. Lim (Illustrator)
- Publisher: Beat Media Group (April 24, 2019)
- Pages: 245 pages
20. Effective Storytelling Step by Step (2020 Edition): Captivate, Engage, and Influence your Audience
Stories make any narrative lively and interesting for its audiences. It enlivens a dull text, a dull movie, a dull presentation, a dull conversation or a dull design. So how can you tell a great story and help it get closer to your purpose?
The author has gained a ton of experience in story writing and has shared her experience with others through lectures, workshops and finally this book, which is the culmination of all her knowledge. The book Effective Storytelling Step by Step: Captivate, Engage and Influence your Audience provides an easy solution to all your storytelling problems. It shows the algorithm that requires our understanding to make our stories engaging. The author dexterously explains how we can engage and impact our audiences for our benefit through real life examples and strategies.
- Authors: O. G. GOAZ (Author)
- Publisher: POPRITE (January 1, 2020)
- Pages: 220 pages
Choosing the Best Storytelling Books
Storytelling is an intrinsic human activity. It is what we are doing even when we are unaware of it. Stories enrich our lives. Great stories leave an impact on the world for generations. Every person you see has an interesting life story and someone out there wants to hear that story. It is up to each of us to make that story heard. It is relevant to all spheres of life and can add value to all spheres of life. If you are a designer or a business person or a filmmaker or just an average person, storytelling can make your life better and easier. You can communicate your thoughts to others in a smooth and easily comprehensible manner. It can help your business reach out to millions and gather a bigger audience. It can help you communicate your data and information to your superiors. It can help you make meaningful connections. All in all, it can build a narrative for you to live your life by.