Books Read in August 2010

Why Do I Love These People? by Po Bronson

Wow. I enjoyed Bronson's book on careers and this was a fantastic follow-up. It was individual stories carefully compiled over years of interviews framed a bit by the author's experiences and how he changed while creating the piece.

One of the themes that struck me the most was the passing of time. I've seen it in my own life, how some things just settle, become less immediate even if the problem is never actually resolved. There were many other odd twists and turns, of course. I understood more about others and myself when I was done and enjoyed myself while I was at it.

Collapse of Distinction by Scott McKain 

This was a very good book, going well beyond advice on getting a strong USP and into how to really think about the whys and wherefores of becoming distinctive. The structure of the argument, complete with executive summaries and action steps, really enhanced the value of the information as well. I know I'm going to want to read it again with deliberate thought regarding my own projects.

Leading from the Front by Courtney Lynch and Angie Morgan

I don't know why I hesitated to start reading this book. It blew me away. These two former Marine Captains did a fantastic job of bringing together their experiences leading in the military and in the corporate world while adding the slant of what it can mean to be a female doing both.

I was familiar with many of the principles, but really appreciated how their stories and perspective fleshed them out. One that was newer to me but resonated was Aviate - Navigate - Communicate. Or keep taking the other necessary actions during a crisis, develop a strategy to solve the crisis, and make sure everyone knows what is going on as you work through it. I'd certainly seen this process in action before, and used it, but never had a clearly defined label for it.

Guerrilla Marketing for Writers by Jay Conrad Levinson et al.

I didn't read the cover closely enough when I picked up this book - it's for writers that want to publish, promote, and find success with their own non-fiction book. I'd love to do that someday, but it's not even close enough to be a goal instead of a dream.

I did learn a lot. The tools and approach for a book author were sufficiently specialized that having a separate book was well worth it. I happened to read the year 2000 version. I'm sure the 2010 version includes more internet tools, but I didn't really miss them the first time around.

The one idea I most want to hold on to is that when you begin promoting your book idea (since the publisher won't do it for you) there are channels that already exist. It's not like you're starting from scratch with a website unless you want it to be. Actually, I bet this lesson applies to other online businesses as well.... and then it's a matter of balancing the established and the (hopefully) new that you are bringing.

Visual Explanations by Edward Tufte

Like his first two, this book is very pretty and I picked up a few things, but it didn't blow me away. I like his philosophy better than his execution, I think. For example, Tufte claims the first book as pictures of numbers, the second as pictures of nouns, and this one as pictures of verbs. Everything he points out is worth thinking about.

I was very struck by his chapter on "displays of evidence for making decisions" which used the Snow's cholera epidemic and the Challenger failure as examples to the point that it deserves a separate blog post.

Spellbinder by Melanie Rawn

A nice semi-romance, semi-mystery, semi-modern fantasy book. It was pleasant, enjoyable, and definitely good enough to publish, but lacked the intensity of her grand fantasies. Yet I loved the brief personal note in the back that apologized, in a way, for the book, because it was part of getting out of clinical depression.

Unfolding the Napkin by Daniel Roam

I still love the core idea of using pictures to solve problems in this re-format of The Back of the Napkin. There are some different stories, but the main point in re-writing the info as a workshop format (after two years experience teaching it all over) is to get the readers to interact and DO more. The Back of the Napkin is a bit more intellectual.  Either is fantastic and I want to try practicing the techniques.

Your Gut is Still Not Smarter Than Your Head by Kevin J. Clancy and Peter Kreig

This book was about making marketing decisions based on tests and data. It touched on positioning and pricing and advertising but rambled on a bit in style and just wasn't as sticky as its title. I'll keep it around for the reminder in the future. 

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

A sweet little romance and family relationship book that was enlivened with a bit of magic. I read it in one evening of escape and contentment.

On the Nightstand: Chaos, Systems Approaches to Management, The Art of Connection