Books of the Trade

I am an avid reader. Most of it is science fiction, but there’s a lot of reading I do that relates to the soft skills associated with my various roles at work.

I’ve tried to categorize the books somewhat, and also indicate which are better purchased in their book form and not their Kindle one (I love Kindle and use it too much as it is, but for some books it just doesn’t work well).

Presentation Skills

Presentation Zen / Garr Reynolds

Garr Reynolds is one of the best advocates of clean presentations. If you are not reading his blog presentation zen, then you should. And if you still don’t have his first book using the same name presentation zen, then you should as well. It is the cornerstone book for anyone who needs to present in front of an audience. Don’t leave home without it. Try it only in book form.

Presentation Zen Design / Garr Reynolds

In his second book, Garr Reynolds takes a more mechanical view at presentation creation and assists those who don’t only need to present but actually need to write and design their own presentations (that would be most of us) and provides a lot of assistance in that area as well. Another must have book in non-Kindle form.

The Naked Presenter / Garr Reynolds

While Presentation Zen Desine deals with designing the presentation, The Naked Presenter deals with presentation delivery. This is next in my reading list of books about presentations.

Creativity and Innovation

Thinkertoys / Michael Michalko

If you are looking for an exhaustive list of techniques to generate innovative ideas then this is the book for you. Thinkertoys is a great resource for spurring creativity. There’s also a great pack of cards called Thinkpak which worked rather well for me in large innovation sessions at work.

Social Media

Groundswell / Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff

This book takes social media and makes it practical for enterprises – it shows what you can do in a company by embracing social media and using it as just another tool of the trade.

Empowered / Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler

This is a continuation of groundswell in a way. In it, Josh and Ted try to check what changes in an enterprise need to take place for the groundswell movement to thrive. It is an interesting read, though to actually make a difference, it needs to take place all over the organization.

Zarrella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness / Dan Zarrella

Zarrella takes social media and stares at it with an analytical eye. Instead of just offering a gut feelings on when or what to do in order to get an idea to spread, he takes the analyitical approach of counting and checking ROI and providing that as information. This differs from other “similar” books I had the opportunity to read.

GTD

Getting Things Done types of books are usually useless – at least that’s my feeling. You read them, try them out of a day at most and then move on. That said, a few have left a mark on me.

Read This Before Our Next Meeting / Al Pittampalli

This is a manifesto against the current meeting culture in companies. It offers a different alternative, which can be argued if it makes sense or not. The thing is – it gives you this power of actually declining meetings because they are going to be ineffective. Read it – it’s worth the time more than the meeting or two you’ll miss.

Initiative

Call them self-improving books or pop psychology – some of them are rather good.

The Flinch / Julien Smith

The Flinch is a great book that drives you to do things – to get past the flinch and act. I’ve found myself doing things because of this book and trying hard to deal with the homework built into it. A short and important read for anyone – especially those who think they need a change in their lives.

Check out my longer review on this book here.

Poke the Box / Seth Godin

In every important list of books there must be a Seth Godin. Poke the Box is a great book that should be swallowed along with the previous book here – The Flinch. It urges people to start – to initiate – to experiment – to poke the box. While you’re at it – be sure to follow Seth’s own blog.

I Was Blind But Now I See / James Altucher

I first read James Altucher as part of The Domino Project. This is the first book of his that I have read, and since then I’ve ordered a few more, which I intend to read in the near future. James writes compellingly about his failures in life and the decisions he has made in order to live in happiness. You can agree or disagree with what he says, but the guy knows initiative.

I Moved Your Cheese / Deepak Malhotra

Most people know or have read the book “Who Moved My Cheese”. This one is a kind of a rebuttal to that. While Who Moved My Cheese deals with the need to adjust to change, Deepak’s I Moved Your Cheese  reminds us all that we need to harness change and create change instead of bow down to it. Short, concise and to the point.

Management

Managing Humans / Michael Lopp

If you have to deal with developers in a daily basis, then this book is for you. It deals with day to day scenarios that involve developers, explains them and then provides good suggestions on how to cope with them. It is written in a way that makes it enjoyable to read and contains a lot of important insights about this breed called developers. Oh – and don’t forget to read his blog as well: Rands in Response.

The Best Software Writing I / Joel Spolsky

No list of books is ever complete without a Joel Spolsky. Out of his long list of books, I like this one, which is simply a collection of esseys written by others – things that Joel views as important. The good thing about this book is the variety of writers – at least for me.

Accidental Empires / Robert X. Cringely

This one is a lot of joy. Not exactly management, creativity or innovation – more like a historic novel of the creation of the PC industry. A fun read, with a lot of insights to the innerworkings of disruption in technology. Cringely’s blog is top notch as well.