Portfolio: Mark J. Sanderson


Books I Recommend

PILGRIM at California Literary Tour

Quite by accident, my wife and I began visiting historic spots in California related to famous literary figures and then reading books by those authors. It didn’t take long before we had developed a list of authors that would take a lifetime to study. We are impressed by the wealth of literary history accessible in California. The tour has so far included:

Robert Louis Stevenson — Robert Louis Stevenson State Park (Calistoga, CA); Robert Louis Stevenson Museum (St. Helena, CA); Monument in Portsmouth Square; Montgomery Square/Transamerica Pyramid (San Francisco, CA) — The Silverado Squatters, Treasure Island, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Kidnapped, The Black Arrow, The Ebb-Tide, Memories & Portraits, Virginibus Puerisque, Familiar Studies of Men and Books, Edinburgh: Picturesque Notes, Travels With a Donkey in the Cevennes, Across the Plains, The Amateur Emigrant, A Child’s Garden of Verses

John Steinbeck — National Steinbeck Center; Garden of Memories Cemetery (Salinas, CA); Doc’s Lab (San Francisco, CA); Weedpatch, CA; Cannery Row (Monterey, CA) — The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men, Cannery Row, The Pearl

Jack London — Jack London State Historic Park (Glen Ellen, CA); Birthplace Monument at 3rd and Brannan Sts. (San Francisco, CA); Jack London Square (Oakland, CA) — The Sea Wolf, The Iron Heel

John Muir — John Muir National Historic Site (Martinez, CA); Yosemite National Park — The Yosemite, The Wild Muir: Twenty-two of John Muir’s Greatest Adventures

Mark Twain — Mark Twain Cabin (Tuttletown, CA); Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee (Angels Camp, CA); Mark Twain Street/Redwood Park; Montgomery Square/Transamerica Pyramid; Sites of the real Tom Sawyer’s Home – Minna and 5th – and Saloon – 935 Mission (San Francisco, CA) — The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

Ray Bradbury — Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery (Santa Monica, CA) — Fahrenheit 451, Dandelion Wine, The Martian Chronicles, Something Wicked This Way Comes

Dashiell Hammett — Burritt St.; John’s Grill; Flood Building (San Francisco, CA) — The Maltese Falcon

William B. Laughead — Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox Monument (Westwood, CA) — The Marvelous Exploits of Paul Bunyan

Rudyard Kipling — Montgomery Square/Transamerica Pyramid (San Francisco, CA) — The Man Who Would Be King, Just So Stories

Hans Christian Andersen — Hans Christian Andersen Museum (Solvang, CA) — The True Story Of My Life

Wilford Woodruff — Isaac Trumbo House (San Francisco, CA) — The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff

Charles Shulz — Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center (Santa Rosa, CA)

Scott O’Dell — Island of the Blue Dolphins

Robert Frost — Birthplace Monument at California and Drumm Sts.; Grace Cathedral (San Francisco, CA)

Maya Angelou — San Francisco Railway Museum (San Francisco, CA)

Jack Kerouac — City Lights Bookstore; Jack Kerouac Alley (San Francisco, CA)

Charles Chaplin — Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum (Fremont, CA)

Chester W. Nimitz — Golden Gate National Cemetery (San Bruno, CA)

Joe DiMaggio — Holy Cross Cemetery (Colma, CA); “Joltin’ Joe” Boat (Martinez, CA)


MY BONDAGE AND MY FREEDOM by Frederick Douglass

mybondageandmyfreedom“To make a contented slave, you must make a thoughtless one. It is necessary to darken his moral and mental vision, and, as far as possible, to annihilate his power of reason. He must be able to detect no inconsistencies in slavery. The man that takes his earnings, must be able to convince him that he has a perfect right to do so.” (p. 140)

A compelling read that taught me more about slavery than anything I learned in school. Douglass describes slavery in such a way as to make it easy to identify at any time, in any place, and among any people. Basically, it’s important that we recognize each other’s humanity and act accordingly in all our dealings.


lastchildinthewoods_cover“A kid today can likely tell you about the Amazon rain forest — but not about the last time he or she explored the woods in solitude, or lay in a field listening to the wind and watching the clouds move.” (pp. 1-2)

A level-headed attempt at recalibrating the environmental movement that has become increasingly political over the past several decades. This book, which was recommended to me by the assistant director of a wildlife refuge in Texas, informed my Master’s Report and my general approach to green advertising.


mannobodyknows_cover“Generalities would have been soon forgotten. But the story that had its roots in every-day human experience and need, lives and will live forever. It condenses the philosophy of Christianity into a half dozen unforgetable paragraphs. The parable of the Good Samaritan is the greatest advertisement of all time.” (p. 143)

Whatever your views of religion, the growth and staying power of the world’s great religions is nothing short of impressive. Bruce Barton, one of the founders of BBDO, examines the attributes and life of Jesus from a business/advertising perspective and discovers techniques and methods worth emulating in the modern business world. The ability to create buzz, the skill of connecting with an audience, and the use of condensed, simple, and sincere language are just a few of the building blocks of advertising that Jesus mastered.

WALDEN by Henry David Thoreau

walden_cover“Instead of studying how to make it worth men’s while to buy my baskets, I studied rather how to avoid the necessity of selling them.” (p. 18)

An opposing, differing, or unique perspective is usually worthwhile to seek and consider. Thoreau provides such with humor, wisdom, and matter-of-factness — to the point that you’d prefer saving time by walking across the country than wasting time by working for a few months to pay for a train ticket. His nature descriptions are also poetic and beautiful and provide a nice mental escape from urbania any season of the year.


gutenberg_cover“Now the possibility existed of addressing directly anyone, anywhere — in theory, everyone who could read — if only they could be reached and spoken to persuasively.” (p. 256)

Man’s hypothesis in this book (and its companion, Alpha Beta: How 26 Letters Shaped the Western World) is that written communication has had four major “turning-points,” where it “flicked to a new level of speed and outreach.” The four turning-points are 1. the invention of writing itself, 2. the invention of the alphabet, 3. the invention of printing with movable type, 4. the coming of the Internet. In reading these books I started seeing parallels between the turning-points and realized that a solid predictor of the outcome of our current turning-point (the coming of the Internet) would be to study the outcomes of the others. The general pattern that emerged was an increase in individual empowerment —  writing empowered the elites who had time to master the craft; the alphabet empowered ordinary people by simplifying the craft; movable type empowered more people to publish their thoughts to a wider audience; and the Internet is empowering anyone with the courage to launch into cyber space.


sevenbasicplots_cover“The hero or heroine is he or she who is born to inherit; who is worthy to succeed; who must grow up as fit to take on the torch of life from those who went before. Such is the essence of the task laid on each of us as we come into this world. That is what stories are trying to tell us.” (p. 702)

One of the most insightful, profound, and widely applicable books I’ve ever read, The Seven Basic Plots is an investigation into the archetypes of stories and what they tell us about life, human nature, and social change. Advertising centers around stories and ultimately how a product/service can fit into and enhance an individual’s life story (or chapter therefrom). This book informs us about the big picture of stories and where our true ending is aimed. Knowing this, advertisers can better strategize and more effectively persuade individuals to want to buy their product/service.

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