Does anyone else keep getting that “the average CEO reads 60 books a year” advert popping up on their timeline?
Now I like a good read but the thought of getting through 60 business books in 2019 makes my blood run cold. In between doing the day job, getting the kids to school and finishing the ironing it’s impossible for most normal humans.
But reading helps offer up some of the best ideas and access to unique, new thinking on the subjects that we’re all grappling with every day at work.
There are thousands of business and self-help books out there but when it comes to communications and PR the same few books same to come around time and again. While they are always very helpful I find that inspiration often comes from the most unlikely of places or from reading outside of our core subject.
So with that in mind, here’s my alternative comms and PR reading list of 8 titles that will take you slightly off the beaten track:
Fobbit by David Abrams
The title is a pejorative term for a soldier who never leaves the base during the Iraq conflict. From a narrative point of view it’s been cited as a sort of modern day catch 22 on the pointlessness and chaos of war. The author is a former army journalist and the main protagonist is a conflicted PR man trying to make sense of the carnage.
Stranger than we can imagine: Making sense of the 20th Century by John Higgs
This incredible book sweeps across the past 100 years taking in mathematics, art, culture, chaos theory and philosophy as well as the more telegraphed landmarks of the most studied time in history. What really caught me was the context and understanding that help explain many of the issues we face today and how we came to this point in time.
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
The book is lauded by presidents, generals, coaches, businessmen and even Brazilian footballers so I’ve read it so you don’t have to. Find out what PR lessons I gleaned from combat.
Good strategy/bad strategy by Richard Rumelt
This has been described as a milestone in theory and a business classic, taking a grand sweep of history through topics as diverse as the Iraq war, the launch of the iPhone, the first moon landings and many detailed corporate case studies
How to restart your life and get FU money by David Sawyer
Learn more about managing the conflict that come from middle age as we juggle more senior roles at work, small children at home and that nagging self-doubt that we’re doing it wrong or others seem to be able to do it so much better. Finding out how to clean your house is an added bonus.
Perceptionomics by Mark Fletcher-Brown
One of the best and most insightful books I’ve read in the past few months. It was so good I found myself passing my hardcopy to other people I knew to find out what they thought. His PEAK acronym is now written on my office white board. This is also available as a FREE download so there’s no excuse not to read it.
The Art of perception by Robert Leaf
A look back at the 50 year career of one of the original ‘mad men’ Bob Leaf. Packed with anecdotes and entertainment –the book can simply be read for pleasure – there are some powerful central lessons around perception management.
Courage Under Fire: Testing Epictetus’s Doctrines in a Laboratory of Human Behavior, by James Stockdale
Stoicism as a philosophy has had something of a resurgence recently as the idea of resilience becomes increasingly important in modern corporate life. This tale of incredible fortitude in the most horrific of circumstances provides lots of lessons for modern life.
Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed
Using the airline industry and elite cycling as examples Syed is interested in how organisations can develop high performance by learning from mistakes and looking to make small, constant improvements. Far more interesting than I’ve made it sound and is useful for NHS communicators in particular.
FuturePRoof edited by Sarah Hall
Back on more familiar territory this series of books is as good a place as any to find practical hints, tips and case studies about the key challenges facing PR practitioners.
Picture from Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums under creative commons.