I inhale books. When I travel, I always make sure I have more than one book with me as I can read an entire book on one plane ride. When I take a vacation, I go to the library and check out an armload of books.
Seeing a book sitting by its lonesome on my nightstand gives me the jitters. At any given time, I’m reading at least two, if not three, books: my breakfast book (usually something motivational), my lunch book (where I learn something), and my night time “don’t hurt my brain” book (usually a fluff novel).
Because I’m known as a reader, people often ask me for books I’d recommend reading — or the books I’m currently reading that help me with my business. Here, in no particular order, are the books I read this past year. I read a ton more, but these are my top picks.
Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson — This is a great read if you want an overview of Apple and of the mind of a brilliant if troubled genius. But what I really got out of it was how to view my business from the perspective of my customers. How could I begin to deliver an experience on par with Apple and be profitable? How could I begin to use my own talent and expertise to speak up more when I knew something wasn’t right — whether it was regarding a Website design or a company’s messaging? This book affected me in many profound ways — and it’s because of it that I made many changes to my business.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain — This book is what got me to seriously think about the power of memes and group think that’s so prevalent on social media and the Internet. As a consequence, I cut way back on my social media consumption. It’s also due to this book that I discovered I’m a true introvert and how my introversion benefits my clients and is invaluable to my work.
You can read my post on the topic, “Honor Your Creative Self: Instill Some Quiet in Your Life.”
The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D — I discovered this book while reading Quiet as Cain quotes some of Aron’s work. If you’ve ever wondered why you over analyze everything, get overwhelmed at parties — or just walking into Walmart — or why you need serious (I’m talking serious) downtime, then this book will explain why. Aron is the first person to do research on highly sensitive people — and for someone like me, who is incredibly sensitive and thought it was due to being “crazy” or an “odd duck,” it was a lifesaver.
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business — Do you ever think about why you get out of bed a certain way, brush your teeth a certain way and react to situations in a certain way? It’s because just about everything we do is ingrained habit! Changing one’s habits isn’t easy. This book made me begin to question many assumptions I’ve held for a long time and as a result, I began looking at my own behaviors with a different perspective.
The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity by Catherine Ponder — This book is one that’s credited by many prosperity gurus, such as Randy Gage, for their success. I read it — twice! — and plan on reading it again in 2013. Due to this book, I changed my entire way of thinking about money, business and relationships. Be sure to get the official DeVorss edition as the 2011 edition I purchased for iBooks / Kindle was full of typos.
Knowing Your Value: Women, Money and Getting What You’re Worth by Mika Brzezinksi — Oh boy, did this book elicit discussion with my women friends who read it. Mika is the co-host of Morning Joe and in it she explains why she was paid a freelance wage while her co-host made 15 times what she did.
This book also inspired the article I wrote for The International Freelancers Academy, “Why Low Self-Worth Drives Lower Wages for Women — and What to Do About It.”
And finally, while not officially on my 2012 reading list, I’m currently reading Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child, which a friend gave to me for my birthday. So far, it’s very well done and quite entertaining. I had forgotten that Julia Child was 50 years old when she did her first WGBH cooking show (she demonstrated making an omelet) and that it was her show that made WGBH the powerhouse that it is today.
You can also read my post, “7 Things Julia Child Can Teach You About Marketing.”
What books did you read this year that you enjoyed and recommend? Feel free to post them in the comments section.
Edited to add: Be sure to see this great list from Simone Joyaux. Like me, she’s an avid reader and reads across sectors.