I used to be a voracious reader – and read all kinds of books. As life happened, and I got busier with work and family, I found that I read lesser. I tried to keep up – but often found that I started books – and never got around to finishing them. Sad state of affairs really.
Recently, I have gotten back into it – and am reading regularly and steadily now. And it is good. To be honest, given the scarcity of time to read, my focus these days is generally on non-fiction books. Just because I think or hope that I will learn things that are generally of value to me when I read these books. There is so much that can be learned and enjoyed from a good book (I guess there are things that can be learned from bad books too). It is a worthwhile investment of time to nurture ourselves.
A small request – if you have books you would recommend to others, please list them in the comments. If I read and subsequently list one of the books you recommend here, I will also list your name (and blog, if applicable) when I write up the book.
I am starting the list off with some books that I would definitely recommend. As I come across worthwhile books to read, I will list them here. These are books that affected me personally – and I hope you buy/read them. They are not listed in any particular order.
- How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie – this is a classic book – first published in 1937. It is considered to be one of the definitive books on people skills. The simple (and oft times, obvious) truths in the book are universally applicable – and have withstood the test of time. Get the book. Unless of course you would rather not win friends or influence people.
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Revised Edition by Robert Cialdini: This was a book that was recommended reading for us during my MBA program. It is a book that looks at the science (yes) of persuading others (or being aware when persuasion tactics are being applied to you) by covering the six principles of reciprocity, scarcity, liking, authority, social proof, and commitment/consistency. Has tremendous applications in sales and marketing.
- A Good Hard Kick in the Ass: Basic Training for Entrepreneurs by Rob Adams: This book was required reading for us in the New Venture Creation elective (taught by Rob Adams himself) I took during my MBA program. It addresses some of the basic misconceptions around entrepreneurship, and systematically works through helping develop and execute a plan of action to run a startup. If there is nothing else you take away from this book – the one lesson you should walk away with is the critically foundational role of market validation in starting a new venture. It has helped me immensely both during my career with large corporations as well as an entrepreneur.
- Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco by Bryan Burrough: This is a book that recounts the events around the fall of RJR Nabisco. It takes you into a close (and I mean CLOSE) and personal view of the people and the events surrounding the leveraged buy out of RJR Nabisco – all presented in the form of an easy to read and gripping narrative that reads like a un-put-down-able novel. It puts you close to the players and in the middle of the action. An amazing read.
- Winning by Jack Welch: Lessons for business (and personal career) management from one of the giants of business, Winning lays out the astute business knowledge and wisdom of Jack Welch gained over a career that made GE what it is today. Written in a no-nonsense and conversational voice, it addresses a myriad of issues pertaining to business, management and personal qualities that lead to success. There is tremendous breadth to the topics that have been covered in this book – but all laid out in a manner that educates the reader about simple, powerful truths that will empower them, enhance leadership, and help win in the marketplace. Highly recommended.
- Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen: As some of my posts will attest, I am a practitioner of the tenets of GTD – all of which I picked up from reading this book. I personally think that it is important to grasp the concepts of the GTD framework from this book (a reliable system that lets you Do/Delegate/Defer) – and not necessarily the mechanisms via which the author implements it. That said, if you are looking to enhance your productivity, reduce the stress and welcome creativity into your life – there is no better place to start than this book. Implementing such aspects as daily/weekly reviews will change your life. By the way – GTD is now a global movement – and there are tremendous resources (free and otherwise) on the internet that cover a lot of it in detail.
- Rework by Jason Fried & David Hansson: The guys behind Basecamp (formerly 37Signals) and the Signal v Noise blog have published a book that challenges conventional wisdom about entrepreneurship, business management and the nature of work. A lot of the content of the book can probably be accessed via the blog posts on SvN – but there is some new content in the book as well. It is a compilation of essays that address a diversity of topics, often times taking a contrarian view of the way we work (or should). It is an easy read – and provides food for thought – especially if you are an entrepreneur.