If you desire the be the best web strategist or foremost content expert, reading must be part of your personal content marketing plan.
Being an avid reader came naturally to me, for my parents insisted that we always have a book in our hands, whether for homework or otherwise.
So reading dozens of books each year have always been the norm. (In 2000, I read more than 200 books. Sound implausible? Do the math: I read 10 to 12 hours a day each weekend and 4-6 hours a day during the week.)
That cadence has come down precipitously in recent years, but I still make it a point to try to read one book per week.
I read fewer books than I’d hoped to in 2017, but I’m not sorry about that.
My book-reading goal for 2017 was lofty but attainable: read 60 books.
The number was arbitrary but it did set a standard, one that would require me to read a lot daily.
As you’ll see below, I fell considerably below my goal, but (as I’ll share in a later post), that turned out to be a good thing. Sure, I wish I’d read more, especially when I think of the time I spent doing other less important things, but I did read a lot overall, including and aside from books.
- Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family, by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice: The book details how her upbringing in Birmingham, Ala., at the height of the Civil Rights movement, helped shape her into the person she is today. Her thoughts on race and the role it continues to play in our society were eye-opening. For example, while she’s a proud, staunch Republican, she’s a fierce defender of Affirmative Action.
- Content Strategy for the Web (2nd edition), by Kristina Halvorson & Melissa Rach: Considered by many to be the bible of content strategy, CSW is the book you read when you care enough to get content strategy right. You’ll learn the ins and outs of CS and access a framework for making it stick for any size organization.
- Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, by Adam M. Grant: This is truly a book you not only cannot put down, but you also won’t be able to stop yammering about it. Grant is a delightful and clear writer, but the points he makes in this book, specifically with regard to what comprises being an original and the impact they have on the world around them — and overall — was truly eye-opening. After reading this book, I had an accurate way of describing my youngest daughter, who fits the Originals description to the letter.
- Tools of Titans, by Tim Ferriss: Enjoyed this book, a compendium of interviews from some of the brightest minds in the world, in large part because it’s dripping with immediately actionable insight from household names in business.
- Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine, by Damon Tweedy M.D.: I started reading this book with the expectation of hearing what it was like to be a black physician in a world where expectations for black men aren’t always so lofty, but what I came away with is an appreciation for what it’s like to treat patients who look like you but who don’t often get the same care because they live on the wrong side of the tracks.
- The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg: This is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Bar none. Why? It helped me identify and modify behaviors I had long endeavored to understand and to change. What’s more, the book provides a simple framework to use for effectively changing habits.
- The First Mile: A Launch Manual for Getting Great Ideas into the Market, by Scott D. Anthony: I count this as one of the better books I’ve read on what the startup process looks like from ideation to successful execution.
- In the Gap: What Happens When God’s People Stand Strong, by Wilfredo De Jesús: I heard this Chicago pastor speak at the Gateway Men’s Summit 2016. I was blown away by his story and the idea of each of us stepping into the gap to fulfill our Godly purpose.
- Streaming, Sharing, Stealing: Big Data and the Future of Entertainment, by Michael D. Smith & Rahul Telang: Add this book to your list of must-reads for 2018. It’ll provide context for how big data, and technology overall, is being used to shape the decisions entertainment brands (Netflix et al.) make, and what that means at the consumer level.
- Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable, by Seth Godin: An oldie but goodie. it helps me understand the logic behind much of Godin’s oft-quoted philosophy about effective marketing tactics & strategy.
- The Storyteller’s Secret: From TED Speakers to Business Legends, Why Some Ideas Catch On and Others Don’t, by Carmine Gallo: If you hope to be a more effective speaker, this book is for you. It helps distill the how & why of effective public speaking and does so in an easy-to-follow manner.
- The Thank You Economy, by Gary Vaynerchuk: Must say that GaryVee didn’t disappoint, for I picked up several useful nuggets.
- Living Amazed: How Divine Encounters Can Change Your Life, by James Robison: Robison, a popular Texas minister, is known for his fire and brimstone preaching style. Readers of the book will be exposed to his softer side, one where he shares how his difficult and complicated childhood helped him become who he is today.
- Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity, by Charles Duhigg: After reading Habit, Duhigg was one of my favorite authors. But from the moment I opened Smarter Faster Better, I was mesmerized by the rich details, examples and stories of how to become more productive and make better decisions. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
- Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success, by Adam M. Grant: There’s no denying that Grant has been one of my favorite writers for years after I discovered him via a New York Times article. You’ll appreciate his humor, humility and keen intellect, especially in this book, where he makes clear that the nice guys & gals can and typically do finish first, with vivid stories as proof.
- Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of U.S. Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan, by Doug Stanton: If you read only one book this year, Horse Soldiers should be your book. In it, you’ll learn of the 12 U.S. Special Forces soldiers who went to Afghanistan on a veritable suicide mission, following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, to can in airstrikes on the Taliban. This is the first book I ever read that had my heart racing from the harrowing tales that seemingly jumped off the page. The heroism of our soldiers should inspire us all to respect their sacrifice.
- Destiny: Step Into Your Purpose, by T.D. Jakes: If you’ve ever watched or heard Jakes preach, you know he puts on a show that’s tough to forget. I can say the same about his book. The message is strong and moving.
- The Transformational Consumer: Fuel a Lifelong Love Affair with Your Customers by Helping Them Get Healthier, Wealthier, and Wiser, by Tara-Nicholle Nelson: If I was going to recommend one book for bloggers and brands, large and small, this is it. In its few pages, the book helps you understand how to get to the bottom of what motivates your audience or would-be audience, and how to attain or retain them.
- The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More, by Chris Anderson: This book will have you saying hmm throughout. The author makes a strong case for brands to shift their focus away from viral hits in favor of casting a wide net and attracting greater incremental sales and audience. Trust me, you’ll find the argument convincing.
- What We Talk About When We Talk About God, by Rob Bell: The pastor known as Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodger’s spiritual advisor helps readers better understand who God is and better define what role He should play in our lives.
- Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else, by Geoff Colvin: If you read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outlier’s, which espoused the so-called 10,000-hour rule as the yardstick for reaching expert status in pretty much any field, then you need this do to accurately reframe your thinking. Here’s a hint: There is no magic number; expert-level skill has more to do with deliberate practice than anything else.
- The Diet Fix: Why Diets Fail and How to Make Yours Work, by Yoni Freedhoff, M.D.: When it comes to diet and nutrition, I have a saying that I stand firm on: “I’ll listen to anyone, but I only trust the advice of a few people.” Yoni Freedhoff is one of those people. Don’t be fooled by the title: His idea for fixing your diet once and for all is simple, doable and it works. What I appreciated most is Freedhoff’s clear, research-backed philosophy and approach to diet and nutrition.
- Cravings: How I Conquered Food, by Judy Collins: It’s great to read how others developed a healthy relationship with food, especially after it was part of a destructive lifestyle. The author conquered her compulsive eating habit, finding a way to make healthy living and healthy eating work in unison.
- Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers, by Seth Godin: You can probably guess from the title, and what you know about Godin, that the book talks with depth and nuance about how the most successful brands understand how to connect with their audiences, not annoy them.
- Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, by Angela Duckworth: I’m tempted to simply say, “Read this book, dammit!” Instead, I’ll offer this: Read this book (dammit!) if you care to learn/know what the true rudiments of achieving significant, lasting success are and how those elements (passion and persistence) are available to us all. (I cannot stop reading and referring this book.)
- One Click: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of Amazon.com, by Richard Brandt: I learned some surprising things about Jeff Bezos (that he partly grew up in Texas and graduated high school in Miami, Fla.). But most importantly, I came to understand how his background in the financial sector set him up nicely for seeing where the business world was headed (online) and how his view of the future shines through with the brand’s 1-click button.
- The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, by Atul Gawande: I’ve been a Gawande fan since first discovering his writing in The New Yorker. I had a sneaky suspicion this book would help me create a successful system for everything from my morning routine to helping my daughters with their homework. How right I was. I’m not using a simple, easy-to-follow checklist for everything, having found it the previously missing link between consistency and capability.
- Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen, by Mary Norris: This book will make you laugh while helping you use grammar more effectively and efficiently. Did I mention you’ll also laugh your but off?
- The Operator: Firing the Shots that Killed Osama bin Laden and My Years as a SEAL Team Warrior, by Robert O’Neill: Hard to read this book and not hear Lee Greenwood’s “I’m Proud to be an American” ringing your ears. With a deft touch, O’Neill describes his upbringing in Montana and the decision to join the Navy and then allows us to tag along on dozens of covert missions in the Middle East. Finally, he places us there in the room as he fires the shots that killed the most infamous man to ever walk the earth.
I certainly read or re-read a half-dozen or more books, but thanks to an error in the software my local library uses, I lost track of some titles.
See any titles here that you’ve read or hope to read?