Alyssa Pressler Loves to Read – and That Makes Her a Better Professional Storyteller

Written by Meg Seitz · Photography by Julia Fay

“It’s nicknamed the brick,” says Alyssa Pressler says from the Huddle Room at Hygge’s Camp North End one late, Friday afternoon. “When I finish it, it’ll be the biggest book I’ve ever read.” {Continued below}

She’s referring to Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables which rests on the table in front of her. The book is covered in clear plastic with the public library cataloging number stuck to the spine. The plastic cover makes that light rustling sound as she opens the brick and closes it again. She’s currently halfway through the historical French novel first published in 1862. Just to put that into perspective – that means she’s currently on page 670. #nbd

Pressler is a fierce reader. She speaks of authors just like you would friends; she gushes over how she relates to Sylvia Plath’s soul or admits when Hugo is long-winded and just a bit too much.

Les Mis will be the 17th book she’s finished in 2018. Pressler claims this year to be a slow year for her when it comes to reading. We all dare to dream – and read – at that impressive level and pace.

“I would get in trouble as a kid for staying up all night reading by my lava lamp.”

Pressler’s love of books is one of the reasons why she took the bull by the horns to start Hygge’s first book club this spring.

The monthly club is one book down and one book in. They read Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward in May. They are currently reading Celeste Ng’s novel Little Fires Everywhere.

Hygge’s book club isn’t all that different from a traditional book club – anyone can join at any point; the book chooser rotates every month. The book chooser – official term, I know – selects two distinct options both of which are under 600 pages and easily accessible. What comes next is a democratic process made possible by instant messaging – the club votes via Hygge’s Slack channel to pick the next month’s book.

They then meet at the end of the month for a book discussion done any number of ways by the book chooser herself.

So, what makes for a good book discussion?

“A good book,” says Pressler in a simple, yet powerful way. “What’s interesting though is that we tend to gravitate toward and read books that are important issues right now. There are some themes that are present – like race relations – that have also been present in our [book] selections; good books also end up serving as a way to engage in good, current conversations.”

Making that connection between how a book’s story sparks a unique conversation is a lot of what Pressler does for her day job. She herself is a storyteller for brands.

“Reading makes me a better writer, just in general,” she says. “Books make me more creative, and they give me ideas for different content or brand voices.”

Pressler works as an Inbound Marketing Specialist with Klik Marketing, a Charlotte-based digital marketing agency. She is responsible not only for the content creation side of marketing – the ideation, the writing the editing – but also the strategy to get that content into that world. We’re talking anything from social media to blog posts, email marketing to SEO strategy.

It’s her first non-journalism job; before she started at Klik, she worked for The Gaston Gazette in Gastonia, North Carolina and The York Dispatch in York, Pennsylvania.

Content creation these days can sometimes feel crowded, fast-paced; oftentimes, stale. Which is where Pressler ignites her natural sense of imagination for Klik’s clients. And that’s made possible by reading.

“Reading makes me a better writer, just in general,” she says. “Books make me more creative, and they give me ideas for different content or brand voices.”

Pressler’s love of reading and writing wasn’t always as strong as it is today. She hated reading as a child; her mother kept encouraging it by reading a book together every night.

“At that point, I felt like reading was just the worst,” she shares with an ironic laugh. Then, a shift happened. She can’t remember how or when, but she remembers the end result – she just couldn’t get enough of reading.

Just like many children – now adults – in her generation, she fell in love with the Harry Potter series. She was in second grade when the series’ first book was released.

That magic kept her up all night. Literally.

“I would get in trouble as a kid for staying up all night reading by my lava lamp,” she remembers.

Ironically, this kid who loved to read and who would check her mailbox adamantly for HER invitation from a far-off place called Hogwarts would go on to study journalism and international studies at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Studying journalism at a world-renowned institution known for technology, engineering and science ended up serving as an experience that would shift how Pressler would not only read and write, but also see the world.

“They approached journalism in a different way – I was learning to code and I was learning how to take pictures since that’s a strong discipline there.” she says. “But ultimately it was really about the fact that it set me up to be open to really diverse experiences.”

Hey, that sounds like a good book to us.

Meet the Author: Meg Seitz is the Founder and Managing Creative Partner of toth shop, an agency with one goal: Elevate your brand’s content through powerful writing, creativity, and strategy. She also serves as an Adjunct Professor with Queens University and Founding Partner of the children’s book series, “Bea is for Business”.

She’s an English major with an MBA, so she can talk Homer’s “The Odyssey” just as well as she can talk sunk costs – though she’d much prefer the former.

Meet the photographer: Julia Murray, owner of Julia Fay Photography, feels most at home behind a camera with a story to tell on the other side. Her business began during her sophomore year of college, while majoring in radio and tv broadcasting. Now residing in Charlotte NC, she primarily shoots weddings and other local small businesses like her own. Her favorite part about her job is the connection it brings between art and people.