Gini Dietrich

Get Your Summer Reading On While You Still Can

By: Gini Dietrich | August 1, 2012 | 

Summer is coming to an end. Some even go back to school in two weeks!

But August also represents the biggest vacation month of the year, which means some of you still have some time to catch up on this year’s reading.

So we’ve put together a list of books you should read this summer, if only to get you ready for the kicking butt the rest of the year.

While fiction, in the number five spot, is cheating a little bit, it’s included because all work makes for a very boring person.

So, as you’re heading out for last bit of summer, consider taking (or downloading) the following books to read while you sip your Mai Tais.

  1. What Would Google Do? This is not a new book, but it should be required for anyone in a field that works with external audiences. Written by Jeff Jarvis three years ago, he set out to help business leaders question how to approach the web. For communications professionals, it will create new thinking around the things we’ve always done. As we all look to use the web to build the brands of the companies we work with/for, it’s a must to think about how Google has quickly become one of the biggest companies in the world…and learn how to apply those philosophies to traditional organizations.
  2. Social Media and Public Relations: Eight New Practices for the PR Professional. Never before has the PR industry been turned on its head like it has in the past five years. Because of that, Deirdre Breakenridge takes a strong look at the types of things PR pros should be doing today and it’s not media relations and reputation management. It’s testing technology, it’s staying ahead of the trends, it’s creating policy, it’s organizing all company communications, it’s mastering metrics, and more. There is a role for you, no matter your number of years of experience.
  3. Groundswell. I spoke at a social media event a few weeks ago and asked the audience who had read Groundswell. Less than one percent of the audience raised their hands. That was shocking. If you’re doing any work with the social tools (or want to figure them out), this is a must-read. It’s also not a new book, but it’s timeless enough to help you understand how to use the groundswell of customers and prospects to tell your story.
  4. Six Pixels of Separation. Even though Mitch Joel is working on his next book (CTRL ALT DEL), his first book was so far ahead of its time (2010) that it’s still pertinent today. While it’s written with the business leader in mind, communications professionals can learn how to reframe the conversation so our efforts are about strategy, business goals, and measuring results and not about the latest and greatest tool that promises to be a silver bullet for success.
  5. Fiction. The best thing for a communications professional to read is fiction. After all, no matter how much the industry has been turned on its head, the fact remains that we are storytellers. And, in order to become better storytellers, we have to let our minds wander into creative abysses that are beyond corporate jargon and day-to-day technical information. I’m not talking about junk fiction (cough, Fifty Shades of Grey, cough); rather some classics such as The Great Gatsby, Toni Morrison’s new book, Home, or Night Circus by new author Erin Morgenstern. Reading fiction that is well-written helps both your storytelling and writing skills.

What would you add? And don’t say Marketing in the Round. That’s brown-nosing.

A version of this first appeared on CommProBiz.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

  • Lee Odden’s “Optimize” and Eli Pariser’s “The Filter Bubble”. I also went back and read Chris Anderson’s “The Long Tail”

    •  @jasonkonopinski The Long Tail is a good one! I haven’t read Lee’s book yet. I need to get it from Lisa when she’s in Chicago in a couple of weeks.

      • The Long Tail is showing its age a bit, but I reference it often. And you’ll love Lee’s book. 🙂

    • philsimon

       @jasonkonopinski Love The Long Tail. One of the few biz books I’ve read twice.

  • Ola Mobolade’s Marketing to the New Majority:: Strategies for a Diverse World is one of the few books about minority marketing that doesn’t seek to divide every group by stereotype.  Great statistics and insights.  For fiction, anything by Phillip Roth. 

    •  @HeatherTweedy You and Mr. D love Philip Roth. I can’t get into him.

      •  @ginidietrich  @HeatherTweedy I loved the Great American Novel. 

        •  @KenMueller  @ginidietrich It’s a tricky proposition.  I’ll admit, the man is a tad misogynistic.  

  • anything by the heath brothers

  • Remember the Sweet Things – seriously Gert- go read it

    •  @faybiz OK! At my next trip to the airport bookstore.

  • May I recommend “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard”? It’s a great primer on how to, well, change things. And it includes some great real world examples of how people at big companies made changes that impacted the organization (in a good way.)
    I’m also going to recommend all of Tana French’s novels because her new book just came out and she is currently one of my favorite authors.

    • magriebler

       @bradmarley Made to Stick (also by the Heath brothers) is something I re-read almost every year. Their careful yet readable dissection of building a solid message for the right audience is indispensable.

      •  @magriebler Made to Stick, you say? I’ll check it out. Thanks!

    • philsimon

       @bradmarley Love Switch. I’ve met Dan Heath. Nice guy. I’d recommend The Halo Effect by Phil Rosenzweig.

    •  @bradmarley You may…and thank you.

  • Junk fiction? Not to be confused with Pulp fiction, huh? C’mon now, a donut is ok every once in awhile. 
    I haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey and I’ve seen my share of less than flattering comments about the author’s writing style, but can you say cha-ching? She won the freakin’ lottery….she can definitely say ‘Scoreboard’… 
    Groundswell and Six Pixels are on my list, I just need to get around to making it happen. Since my CFO watches all my credit card purchases, can I borrow yours? 
    Have you slowed down any this year? Gotta get while the gettins good, huh? Hope you are having some fun. 

  • Some of these are a bit dated as well, but . . .
    Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port
    Crush it! by Gary Vaynerchuk
    The Referral Engine by John Jantsch
    Content Rules by Ann Handley and CC Chapman
    Behind the Cloud (Salesforce Story) by Marc Benioff
    Outsmarting Google (good SEO book) by Evan Bailyn
    Google+ for Business by Chris Brogan
    The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott
    Groundswell and Six Pixels of Separation were two of the first marketing related books that i read – both are excellent. I’m glad to hear that Mitch Joel is writing another one.

    • Yeah…Book Yourself Solid worked too well for me. I  wanna go home!

  • BethMosher

    Still trying to get through A Prayer for Owen Meany (based on your recommendation). And I’m Episcopalian! I’ve heard good things about “Gone Girl” but haven’t read yet. 

    • magriebler

       @BethMosher A Prayer for Owen Meany is an old-fashioned read (all those words and pages) that requires a bit of patience. But the pay off is simply incredible. Stick with it! You’ll be glad you did.
      And I just finished “Gone Girl” and annoyed my family the entire time by saying things like “WHAT!” “I knew it!” and “Wow.” Lots of fun and, actually, an interesting commentary on relationships.

      •  @magriebler  @BethMosher What Marianne said! The payoff is ridiculous!

  • I’ve been trying to stay away from business books this Summer, and instead focusing on other interests. My son has me reading Game of Thrones, and I’m enjoying that, but not devoting as much time to it as I would like. 
    I’m also reading a number of books on radio history because of a project I’m working on. Two oldies but goodies are “Wheelin’ on Beale” by Louis Cantor, about the history of blues radio in Memphis, specifically WDIA, the first all-black station in the country, “Border Radio” about Texas/Mexican border stations where guys like Wolfman Jack got their start, and “The Pied Pipers of Rock ‘n’ Roll” about the early rock DJs of the 50s and 60s.
    And then to mix it up, I downloaded a free Kindle book on Beekeeping that is really fascinating. I’d love to try it.

    •  @KenMueller The Game of Thrones series is one of my favorites. Martin knows how to tell a good tale.

      •  @TheJackB  @KenMueller I adore those books. When I first started reading them I was finishing one a week. Couldn’t put ’em down! 

        •  @annedreshfield  @TheJackB I’m still on the first. it is hard to get through when you don’t have a lot of time, AND when you’re reading 5 or 6 books at a time. 

        •  @KenMueller  @TheJackB I can imagine. I was on winter break from school and was basically just eating, sleeping, and reading. It took me WAY longer to finish Dance with Dragons, which I was reading while at school. 

        •  @annedreshfield  @TheJackB My son started reading them in the Czech Republic. I think he read all of them in about 2 months. I don’t have that luxury.

        •  @KenMueller  @TheJackB Have you been watching the show on HBO? It’s a great adaptation. 

        • @annedreshfield @KenMueller @TheJackB Love Martin as a storyteller. Political intrigue always gets me weak in the knees.

    •  @KenMueller This sounds really boring.

      •  @ginidietrich Have you ever read Marketing in the Round???

        •  @KenMueller No. I’ve heard it’s SUPER boring.

        •  @ginidietrich You have NO idea. 

    •  @KenMueller I love Game of Thrones. But I will say it takes devotion to read a book with that much detail and so many characters. I’m still working on the second book after several weeks.

  • AnneReuss

    I’m still working on the Hunger Games ( maybe I really should have not seen the movie first!) and I’m almost finished with Social Marketology by Ric Dragon .  The book is fascinating in the way it combines neuroscience, psychology, ethnography and more but it’s still a practical guide on how to handle social media for business. It’s a tool that has made me better at my job.  
    Thanks for the suggestions! 

    •  @AnneReuss  I can’t believe you aren’t so hooked to The Hunger Games that you can’t put it down. I seriously had to tell myself if I went to work, I could go home and read. I loved all three of them.

  • wendyroan

    Have you had the opportunity to read “The Apple Experience”? The book shares highlights from “The Speed of Trust” by Stephen Covey and Lominger Korn/Ferry leadership system as well as Ritz Carlton, Disney, and others.

    •  @wendyroan I haven’t! I’ll pick it up. Thank you!

  • Rodriguez247

    Since January this year I’ve the following in this order: – (Re-read) Consumer Republic | Bruce Philp
     – Steve Jobs | Walter Isaacson – Delivering Happiness; A Path To Profits, Passion, and Purpose | Tony Hsieh
     – Writing Tools | Roy Peter Clark – Content Rules | Ann Handley and CC ChapmanI was in the middle of Six Degrees, but it was interrupted by (not brown-nosing at all) Marketing in the Round. All these books have fallen on my lap, in that order, and I will not test the powers that be. 🙂 

  • Rodriguez247

    Since January this year I’ve the following in this order:  (Re-read) Consumer Republic by Bruce Philp || Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson || Delivering Happiness; A Path To Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh || Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark || Content Rules by Ann Handley and CC Chapman.
    I was in the middle of Six Degrees, but it was interrupted by (not brown-nosing at all) Marketing in the Round. All these books have fallen on my lap, in that order, and I will not test the powers that be. 🙂 

    •  @Rodriguez247 I LOVED Steve Jobs. Dang. I should have included that in my list. It’s such a great book about vision, leadership, and focus. Loved, loved, loved it.

    •  @Rodriguez247 Oh…and thank you! 🙂

  • magriebler

    I’ve been wanting to read #1, #2, and #3; thanks for the kick in the pants.
    I worship at the altar of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Like the geek I am, I made a point of driving by his house on Summit Ave. in St. Paul when I was there this weekend. At least I didn’t leave flowers.
    I recently re-read Good to Great, which continues to inspire me to pursue Level 5 leadership in everything I do and to seek mentors who model it.
    Willpower and the Power of Habit were good reads that have also challenged the way I spend my time.
    And here’s one for you, @ginidietrich: Gold by Chris Cleave. It’s a slightly sudsy novel about two professional women cyclists competing for fame and (you guessed it) love. What’s really fun is that Cleave has them training for a slot in the 2012 Olympics. I couldn’t put it down. Best of all, it helped me with my own personal training for the Olympics. Sitting for hours on end isn’t as easy as it looks.

    •  @magriebler What Would Google Do really made me think about my business model differently. Because of it, we began creating products that we could sell. You should see the mindmap I created in the back of a notebook after reading it. Read it. 
      I just re-read The Great Gatsby. I have to say, it’s a great book, but it makes me wonder why it’s one of those books that is always held up as a classic. The writing is incredible, of course. And the attention to detail is grand. But the character development is lacking…I just don’t care enough about any of them to get involved in the story.

      • magriebler

         @ginidietrich We’ll just have to agree to disagree about TGG. His characters have always haunted me, mostly because of the way they make me think about myself and my own personal integrity.
        Already placed an order for WWGD. Thanks.

        •  @magriebler Isn’t it funny how different we all are when it comes to reading?

        • magriebler

           @ginidietrich It may be my favorite part.

        • @magriebler @ginidietrich The Beautiful and The Damned is my favorite Fitzgerald novel.

  • LOL the use of  CTRL ALT DEL always makes me laugh. Back in 2006, when I was a first year student in university I had a dream that I was being chased by a ghost and instead of trying to run away I started shouting CTRL ALT DEL and since I was talking in my sleep, my roommate heard it and teased me with that information for years!
    Hmmm I guess if I had to add one book to this list it will have to be Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith! Have you read it? 

    •  @roastedkeyboard You are crazy! LOL!!
      I did read Trust Agents.

  • jonbuscall

    I read Mike Monteiro’s “Design is a Job” whilst away in France. It is an excellent, snarky, and laugh out loud funny, discussion of running an agency. I loved it. 
    For fiction, I’ve been reading silly British detective novels by MC Beaton. 

    •  @jonbuscall Oh! I’ll pick that one up. I haven’t read it. Thank you!

  • ToddBartlett

    Great post and comments. This summer I have been reading the following books for class: 
    1. The Social Organization by Anthony Bradley and Mark McDonald
    2. Social Media ROI by Oliver Blanchard 
    3. Measure What Matters by KD Paine 
    Last semester I read Groundswell which is an excellent book.

    •  @ToddBartlett Oh yeah! Olivier’s book was really good, too. Dang. It’s so hard to limit it to five.

  • Why are you so gung-ho on fiction? The research studies I read about glaciers are so captivating that I’m not sure if I can handle anymore excitement!

    •  @SociallyGenius Reading fiction allows you to be creative in your responses about glaciers.

  • Thanks for the great suggestions, Gini! #1 looks particularly great. I’ve been meaning to pick up Toni Morrison’s newest book, too! I have so much on my list before classes start up again.

    •  @annedreshfield Home isn’t as good as some of her others. But she does tell a good story!

  • I’m so glad you recommended Night Circus. It was such a captivating novel. I’m eager to see what Morgenstern will have for a follow up

    •  @Anthony_Rodriguez I didn’t know what to expect and the clerk at the airport bookstore made fun of me for buying it. But I loved it!

  • PRMurewa

    I love how @ginidietrich’s book list always ends with “fiction.”

    • ginidietrich

      @PRMurewa LOL! I can’t help it.

  • rdopping

    You left out the PR and Marketing for Dummies. After reading that book i now have a sold grasp on what the heck you people are talking about here….;-) arrrrrr……hehehehe.

    •  @rdopping That’s all it took?

      • rdopping

        @ginidietrich sorry.:-)

  • Marketing In The Cluetrain Manifesto!

  • >> And don’t say Marketing in the Round. That’s brown-nosing.
    Marketing In The… uh… Cluetrain Manifesto?

  • ThePaulSutton

    I’m a tad late to the party with this comment (hey, I’ve had a baby – give me a break!) but I’m somewhat ashamed to say I’ve never read Groundswell. That said, after reading MITR it went straight to the top of my list. Well, along with Deirdre’s latest book and Social Media ROI (which I’ve had a copy of for 6 months and STILL haven’t read). Never seem to have (or make) the time to read books anymore. Maybe I read too many blogs? Hmmm…