There have been a ton of books I have read over the past few years that have changed how I view the world and what I can do to make a difference. I thought since there has been some interest after I recommended a few great books to my friends Chris Brogan and Christopher Penn, about what I thought was worth while, I would make a list of them here, along with a link to my Amazon Affiliate Store, should any of your be so inclined to explore further. The ridiculously small payments are used either to pay my hosting bills or to buy books for others, so no worries I’ll be vacationing on any of this money soon. I’ll keep this list updated from time to time- let me know what you think.
The Artist’s Way- Julia Cameron. This book is basically a structured journey to unlock your creativity. I went through this with the urging of my mother In Law, and we did it together, talking once a week and checking in. It was amazingly helpful to me to identify the roadblocks in my path that I allowed to slow me down and keep me from my goals.
Now, Discover Your Strengths – Marcus Buckingham and Strengthsfinder 2.0-Tom Rath. Both of these books help you identify your personal strengths and talents, based on the Clifton Strengthfinder, developed by Don Clifton, widely seen as one of the founders of the positive psychology movement. (Also Tom Rath’s grand-dad.) Knowing what you are truly good at is perhaps the most helpful information you will ever have.
Your Child’s Strengths- Jenifer Fox This is a book to help parents and teachers develop a child’s strengths as they develop and grow- absolutely critical for anyone with children who are struggling to find out who they are and what they really are good at, besides video games.
Mind Hacks- Tom Stafford and Matt Webb– A great book about how your brain works and how to use it, and its inherent flaws and biases to your advantage
Made to Stick- Why some ideas survive and others die- Chip & Dan Heath– I’m putting this one in personal development, because I think one of the key skills we all need is to know how to get our ideas across in a way that will be memorable to others.
Business, Economics, And Marketing
Why We Buy and The Call of The Mall– Paco Underhill- These books look into the way retail shopping works, why stores are set up the way we are, and how physical environments effect peopleand their shopping habits. Ever wonder how many times that shirt you are looking at was touched before you decided to bring it home? Ever wonder why there are all those little tables blocking your way as you enter a store? Paco Underhill studies this in his business, Envirosell, and shares the information with us in his books. I have never looked at shopping quite the same way since reading Paco’s books.
Blown to Bits- How the Economics of Information Transforms Strategy- Philip Evans and Thomas Wurster– I picked up thisone as an audio book. While the book was originally written all the way back in 2000, it is a fascinating look at how information technology was starting to drastically change how the world worked, and now, it becomes even more relevant as more and more “real world” businesses look to make a comfortable virtual home on the web.
Freakonomics-Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner– A first look at the intersection between real life and economics, now gaining large amounts of attention as the field of Behavioral Economics (see also Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational)
Predictably Irrational -Dan Ariely– all about behavioral economics. If you have ever wondered why some pricing schemes seem to work and others don’t, what happens when social norms and market norms clash- this is the book for you. Fantastic Read!
The Pirate’s Dilemma–How Youth Culture Reinvented Capitalism– Matt Mason I liked Matt Mason’s book so much, I contacted him and asked him to please come and speak at Podcamp NYC this spring. Despite being a well-paid corporate speaker, he agreed to do it for us, for the community. Matt’s book talks about how creative ideas and business all eventually merge, but it’s those with the wisdom to compete with the inevitable pirates that succeed. (Oversimplification for a book I could not put down.) Matt’s blog has fantastic information, and on top of all that, he is simply an amazing person, too.
Buying In- The Secret Dialog Between What we Buy and Who We Are- Rob Walker– I listened to this as an audio book on a recent trip, and found myself pulling over to take notes. This book takes a great look at whether we are defined by what we buy, or do we seek to create a version of ourselves through the things we buy. He talks about thinks like Marc Ecko, BzzAgent, why Red Bull became popular and more. My next “must read” recommendation to friends.
The World is Flat- Tom Friedman– Tom keeps updating the World is Flat, and I recommend the audio version through Audible as well. A great perspective on globalization, and what we need to do to keep adding value to what we create.
Obsessive Branding Disorder- Lucas Conley – I am still reading this one, but I love the discussion so far about businesses work the branding process and its implications for all of us who are trying to build a personal brand.
The Dip- Seth Godin- The Dip is a quick little book that in the end, encourages to try to identify the deadends in your life and quit those, but be willing to pursue the winning ideas, even if times get rough. Seth is an ace #1 presenter, and I learned as much by watching him present as I did reading the book itself.
The Big Moo- Seth Godin and other contributors– Great vingettes that always get me thinking in a more creative space than before.
The Starfish And the Spider-The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations– Ori Brafman – I found this book fascinating, as many people experimenting in the Web World are trying to figure out when a top-down traditional business structure works, and when less traditional, more collaborative organizations work better. Definitely and interesting read, but in practice, I have found that not everyone is comfortable with the open-source, no one is in charge structure.
Wikinomics- How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything- Don Tapscott- A great book that introduces us to the fact that we get more ideas and make more rapid progress when we deal with a wide selection of people than by staying within the fishbowl itself. Globablization meets collaboration.
Recent books with Good Points, but not “raves”
Sway- Ori Brafman– I started this book, based on being a fan of Starfish and the Spider. It’s essentially another book about behavioral economics, but not as in depth as Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational. I’ll update this once I am through.
The Four Hour Work Week- Tom Ferris– This is one of those books that’s caught on as everyone wants to work less for more money. In the end, the best thing out of the book is the concept of dreamscaping, which requires you to pick a goal and then make a list of all the steps you need to accomplish to reach that goal. Classic advice in a fancy package with lots of hype. One of the few books that actually made me angry at times for some of its more outlandish points.