I often forget there is such a thing as “reading for pleasure.” High schoolers stack their lockers and bedside tables with fraying copies of “How to Read Literature like a Professor” and various borrowed “Spark Notes.” Liberal Arts students are dragged through the dusty halls of libraries, falling prey to tactical explanations of AP Style and Robert’s Rules of Order. Once you’ve freed yourself from structured academia, it’s common to fall into a professional routine. When are you supposed to have time to sit down and read for fun?
Luckily, for those of us in the communication sphere of the business world, we can enjoy reading for both pleasure and profession. Inspired by Gini Dietrich’s article, “Reading Fiction Helps Your Career” and Geoff Livingston’s “Nine Books for Communicators,” I decided to put together a short list of reads I think are helpful to those in the PR, marketing, communications, and advertising fields. Whether fiction or nonfiction, these books are both enjoyable and informative.
The Dragonfly Effect – Jennifer Aaker, Andy Smith, Carlye Adler
“The Dragonfly Effect” is a written model that takes concepts from social media, marketing strategy, and consumer psychology to help readers accomplish a solitary, tangible goal. The effect is named after “the only insect that can move swiftly in any direction, and even hover, when its four wings are moving in harmony.” The book flutters around the four “wings” of the model – Focus, Grab Attention, Engage, and Take Action. While the book seems like a straightforward approach to marketing tactics, it wraps the reader into a concept that leads to change – for the better.
The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell
Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference” orbits around the thought that ideas, behaviors, products and messages spread through society like viruses. The book selects “three rules of epidemics” or “agents of change” that are visible in all major tipping points of change. If you look beyond the message of the book itself, Gladwell’s writing is a model for communicators. He does a wonderful job connecting with the reader, making you feel aware and eager to learn more.
How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
Published in 1936, before Twitter, Facebook, and even the Internet itself, Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is a classic self-help manual for business professionals. What I really like about this book is the fact it’s rooted in a personal, face-to-face approach that is truly the best way to go about building a network. People got along just fine without social media for decades, maybe it’s about time we get back to the past and see what an old-fashioned handshake has over a “friend request.”
For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemingway
Besides the fact I have an outstanding appreciation for Hemingway’s work, I agree with Geoff Livingston in his recommendation of this novel. While yes, this is a fictional novel, the beauty of having this on my list goes beyond literary content. Hemingway was essentially the first tweeter. His style is short, sweet and to the point, much like the 140-character personality of Twitter’s posts. See what you can learn about fitting so much thought into so little space while engrossing yourself in the story of main character Robert Jordan’s experience as a dynamiter during the Spanish Civil War.
I hope you’ll take the opportunity to grab a cup of coffee, find a comfortable chair and dive into a book that will open your mind to new business concepts and put a smile on your face.