I've been eagerly waiting for this book ever since Whitney Quesenbery asked me to comment on parts of the book as they wrote it, and I knew that they had chosen to use some of my stories. So as I quickly had my first glance through the book, I couldn't resist looking first at the places where I was mentioned, and came to this story from Whitney:
"The first time I talked about storytelling in public, I was pretty nervous. Debi Parush, Karen Bachmann, and Basil White sat up with me the night before while I ripped up and rewrote the whole presentation. The next morning, I arrived to find a room full of people and Caroline Jarrett sitting in front, notepad at the ready. Terrifying".
And I'd thought I was being friendly and attentive! What she doesn't say is that her presentation was brilliant. I started using stories myself, and I also invited her to teach a workshop at a training event I was organising a few months later. We've been working together on and off ever since.
That story sums up our whole working relationship, based on deep mututal respect, constantly challenging each other to do the best work we possibly can, and occasional dramatic differences in perspective.
Which brings me to my review of the book. I've given it five stars, as you might expect knowing that Whitney and I work together, but I hope my story helps to convice you that despite our association, I'd never do that unless I thought the book thoroughly deserved them.
Chapters 1 through 5 are the first section of the book. They explain how stories work, calling on our shared human experiences that go back to the time before writing when our culture, history, and craft were communicated through stories. Even if you only have time for one chapter, buy this book for chapter 3 "Stories start with listening", which explains the importance of listening and is full of practical tips about how to do it better: as a user experience practitioner, as an employee, as a consultant, as a boss.
Chapters 6 though 10 dive into the practicalities of using stories in user experience design: finding stories, brainstorming with stories, using stories to influence decision-makers, and much more.
And then chapters 11 through 16 are the bit that challenges you to do even better. This book isn't just about using any old story, it's about using the best story you can - and understanding the elements that make it so. To give just one example: if you've wondered why your reports haven't had the impact you wanted, then turn to Chapter 15 for ways that stories can help.
Summary: buy it, read it, use it. You'll improve your user experience designs if you do.