Gini Dietrich

Nine Books to Give as Holiday Gifts

By: Gini Dietrich | December 20, 2010 | 

If you shop like Martin Waxman, you have four (and a half) more shopping days. And Amazon is offering shipping that will get you your gifts on time if you order by Wednesday. So I have prepared a list of books (business and fiction) that you can buy this week and still look like a hero. It will save you time and a trip to the mall. You’re welcome.

P.S. The Amazon links are all affiliates but it won’t hurt my feelings if you just open your Kindle app and buy from there.


Predictable Success. If you’ve been a reader of this blog for a while, it won’t come as a surprise that I love “Predictable Success” and its author Les McKeown (but don’t tell him that).  A book written for company leaders, it talks about the trials and tribulations every company experiences at different levels. I keep it on my desk for trying days so I can turn to it, read, and think, “OK. This is normal. You can get through this.” And then I do. Buy the actual book here and the eBook here.

What Would Google Do. This is a couple of years old, but “What Would Google Do” really makes you think about the web, about your customers, and about your network. And not just think about them, but how to integrate all of your circles of influence into growing a business. I still look back at the diagram I drew as I read the book, which has led us to Project Jack Bauer.  I wouldn’t give the book total credit for the shift in our business model, but it definitely helped me look at using the web differently. Buy the actual book here and the eBook here.

Drive. I’ve written a few times here about what motivates people and what I’ve learned in growing a business, taking it back down to lean and mean, and growing again. It turns out, money does not motivate people, even as much as I thought it motivated me. But then the economy went south and the real motivation came in keeping the business open. Turns out, a vision and passion are what motivates a person. Which is why I love “Drive: The Surprising Truth About what Motivates Us.” It talks about not only the philosophical views behind what motivates people, but how to find the things that keep them going to work each morning.  Buy the actual book here. The eBook isn’t available via the Amazon affiliate, but I have it on my iPad so you can definitely buy it through your app.


The Help. This book is set during the civil rights movement in Jackson, Miss., where black women were trusted to raise white children but not to polish the household silver. Enter Eugenia Skeeter Phelan who has graduated college and living at home while trying to figure out how to become a writer. She manages to get the attention of an editor, who tells her she’ll publish her if she finds a real story to tell. So Skeeter begins to tell the stories of black women on whom the country club elite rely and mistrust. The book Skeeter writes based on their stories is scathing and shocking, bringing pride and hope to the black community, while giving her the courage to break down her personal boundaries and pursue her dreams.  Buy the actual book here. The eBook isn’t available via the Amazon affiliate, but I have it on my iPad so you can definitely buy it through your app.

The Millennium Trilogy. I thought that the entire world had read these books, but then my friend Abbie Fink posted something about the movies on her Facebook wall the other day and most of her friends hadn’t read any of the three. This is a great gift because you can buy all three for the person (people) you love. The books are: “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “The Girl Who Played with Fire,” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.” To say they are good is putting it mildly – I read all three over a long weekend in April. With the exception of the last book (which took about 100 pages to get in to), your gift recipients won’t be able to put them down. Buy the trilogy set here and the eBooks are above in the title links.

Same Kind of Different As Me. A book that is factual but could just as easily be fiction, tells the unlikely story of the unlikeliest of friends – Ron Hall and Denver Moore. Told in two voices, the book alternates between telling the story from the perspective of Ron and Denver. Ron Hall is a wealthy international art dealer who travels the world buying and selling rare and expensive works of art. He has grown rich but has also grown selfish and has grown away from his family. When Ron Hall reluctantly volunteers at a homeless shelter (at the insistence of his wife) he soon comes into contact with Denver, a man his wife is convinced is going to change the city. Denver grew up as a sharecropper in Louisiana, living a life that seemed little different from the life of his ancestors one hundreds years before. He eventually walked away from the cotton fields and found that, while life on the streets of Fort Worth was difficult, it was easier than being a sharecropper. It was here, in a homeless shelter, that the two men met, one serving food and the other being a reluctant recipient of this charity.  Buy both the actual book and eBook here. Just click on the edition you want.

Sarah’s Key. This book fictionalizes the 1942 Paris roundups and deportations, in which thousands of Jewish families were arrested, held at the Vélodrome d’Hiver outside the city, then transported to Auschwitz. Julia Jarmond, American by birth, moved to Paris when she was 20 and is married to the arrogant, unfaithful Bertrand Tézac, with whom she has an 11-year-old daughter. Julia writes for an American magazine and her editor assigns her to cover the 60th anniversary of the Vél’ d’Hiv’ roundups. Julia soon learns the apartment she and Bertrand plan to move into was acquired by Bertrand’s family when its Jewish occupants were dispossessed and deported 60 years before. She resolves to find out what happened to the former occupants, including Sarah, the child. Buy both the actual book and the eBook here. Just click on which edition you want.

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. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Jason Fried’s ReWork was probably my business book of the year.

  • HowieSPM

    I love reading books.I will pick some of your picks to read. And offer a few myself (I no you didn’t ask but when have I ever followed the rules?) I used to be on a huge non-fiction kick. But now reading mostly SciFi-Fantasy (back to my early roots). I saw the Milenium Movies (the first 2) and loved them dying to read the books.

    Hard for me to read Business Books because rarely does any give me any unique insight I haven’t found on my own yet (not being snobby its just that I read so many business journals and have worked in every area of business, and almost every industry except for Mining…which I am working on!) But I am enjoying Greg Verdino’s MicroMarketing. I am going to read What Would Google Do.

    And along the lines of Same Kind of Different As Me which I am going to read based on your descritpion is Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael which is basically a man having a running dialogue with a talking Gorilla.Lots of enlightenment!

    A book that is really Fascinating if you like history and anthropology is Guns Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. You will learn why the West came to dominate the world going back to primitive man and what our resources were. Like I never knew North America started with only 3 fruits. Or that the Western Hemisphere had no animals to pull carts (except for Llamas!) so we never used the Wheel.

    How come you didn’t include See Tiger Run from Elin? Or the Linday Lohan Autobiography.

  • lesmckeown

    Very kind of you to put me up top here, Gini (although you’re so nice about me and ‘Predictable Success’ that I kinda suspect you wrote it while you were unwell). Thanks also for taking time to add some color as to why you liked the other books, especially the fiction items – really helps to decide if they are right for me or not.

    Here’s my own list of 2010’s ‘books that made me think’: (I apologize if this counts as hijacking your post – feel free to take it down if it does).

    Finally, thanks for all your posts (and those of your guests) this year. Even though I’m not in the SM world, I love SpinSucks 🙂

    – Les

  • @jonbuscall This has been on my list for a while, I should get to reading it soon so I can be more productive and read other books! 🙂

  • I have already read “The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture” by johnbattelle and I learned a lot about how Google works and why it became more successful than others. I’ll definitely check out “What Would Google Do” to learn more about the topic and because I think jeffjarvis has a lot of great insight.

    Now that a million people have suggested I read “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” I guess I really should check it out. It’s good to read a fiction book everyone once in a while to keep the mind imaginative.

  • noovai

    Great, thanks for the tips! One back for you: if you liked Millennium trilogy then read Snow Angels by James Thompson Gripping.

  • I love this list. We had been talking about boos a few weeks ago and I asked you for some of your favorites. It’s nice to see them in a format open to more than 140 characters. Looks like I’ll be adding a few to my X-Mas list. : )

  • Great list, I also love ‘Predictable Success’ (thanks to you sending it my way 😉 ) and I’m a big fan of ‘The Help’ too! May have to check out some other ones on your list.

  • KyleAkerman

    The Millennium Trilogy was pretty amazing. I’m looking forward to starting the Hunger Games Trilogy which is also getting good reviews.

  • bradmarley

    I can’t say enough good things about The Millennium Trilogy. Anybody who asks for a book recommendation from me gets that series. Although I think the first book takes longer to get going.

  • FollowtheLawyer

    So I’m sensing you’re a Kindle partisan?

  • ginidietrich

    @FollowtheLawyer Well, I’m an iPad partisan. And I have the Kindle app on that. Which I LOVE. I mean, LOVE.

  • ginidietrich

    @bradmarley Really?! I got right into the first one, but it took me weeks to get into the third.

  • ginidietrich

    @KyleAkerman I have Hunger Games on my list, too! I’ve heard the series is REALLY good~

  • ginidietrich

    @rachaelseda Yes, you should! 🙂

  • ginidietrich

    @joey_strawn We’d been talking about books, too. 🙂 I have a whole list, if you want it. I’m reading Steve Martin’s book right now. As much as I hate to admit it, it’s really good!

  • ginidietrich

    @noovai Snow Angels. Adding to my list right now. Thank you!

  • ginidietrich

    @jennalanger Oh! Thank you! I’m adding “The Search” to my list right now! And yes, yes, yes! Read all three of the Millennium series. You won’t regret it! I promise.

  • ginidietrich

    @lesmckeown Well, it’s over starting now. So don’t get used to it!

  • ginidietrich

    @HowieSPM I”m sorry. You’re right. I should have included the Lindsay Lohan autobiography! I’m adding “Ishmael” to my list.

  • ginidietrich

    @jennalanger @jonbuscall Dang. That’s not even on my radar. Thanks Jon! I’ll add it now.

  • FollowtheLawyer

    @ginidietrich Me, too. I need something for bright light/outdoors, though, so I have it on good authority that I’ll be getting a Kindle for Xmas.

  • @ginidietrich I’d love your list. I’ll DM you my personal email.

    I had wondered about Steve Martin’s book. It looked good. Did you hear about his appearance for the NY art community to talk about it and people demanded their money back because he “wasn’t funny enough”?

  • ginidietrich

    @joey_strawn I’m sorry. WHAT THE F is wrong with people?! Are you serious?? I’ve actually heard he’s an introvert and isn’t one to go out and about and schmooze and he’s not as funny in person as you would expect. Shame on his agent for not prepping the audience properly.

    And…it’s actually a really good book. I’m surprised.

  • @ginidietrich Haha, just bought ‘Drive’ & ‘What Would Google Do’ on audible…it will be great ‘reading’ (aka listening) for my holiday travels 😉 If they stink I will make sure to call you and complain haha just kidding!

  • TMNinja

    @ginidietrich @jennalanger @jonbuscall This was my #1 biz book of the year too!

    Great read! Gini, make sure it gets added to your list!

    – Craig

  • @ginidietrich Amen.

  • lesmckeown

    @ginidietrich Welcome back, Gini! I wondered what alien had taken over your body.

  • HowieSPM

    @joey_strawn @ginidietrich I once paid $15 to see Steve’s personal art collection at the Bellagio in 2001. I have some of his old vinyl from the late 70’s still but no record player! And I still get excited when the new phone books arrive. Though not as exciting as livefyre points or Gini’s blog posts, but still pretty high level of giddy.

  • HowieSPM

    @lesmckeown @ginidietrich I think I will add your book to my list Les because you commented on this blog. Some people come for Livefyre points others for book sales. Either way I like to give people a reason to come to Spin Sucks. Though sometimes I know Gini hoards the cupcakes.

  • lesmckeown

    i cannot advise against your suggestion, Howie. I’m fully in favor of what have suggested. 🙂

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  • InSeansOpinion

    All these books look like great recommendations for my own holiday purchases! Friends of mine were just talking about how great “The Help” was last night, so I think that’s next on my “to buy” list.

  • @ginidietrich I have hte Kindle App on my iPhone and I LOVE it. It makes train rides much more entertaining and educating. Plus, books are much, much cheaper on the Kindle and you can have 30 books with you any moment. Awesome.

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  • martinwaxman

    Thanks for sharing my shopping strategy, Gini! It’s true – I do like to wait till right near the end. That way, I know I’m with people who are 1) desperate and 2) make decisions. There’s a sort of hyper, yet calm serenity in that. I was contemplating my retail strategy yesterday and today so I’m late coming to the post. And now I have 2.5 days – so I think I am ready to go! Those are great suggestions, by the way. I’d like to add Terry Fallis’ The High Road and the new books by Martin and Roth (sounds like they should sing and do comedy, but hey… writing can be enough).

  • FollowtheLawyer

    2011 is going to be my year of working through my backlog. Like the chains and fetters of Marley’s ghost, the list is long and ponderous.

  • ginidietrich

    @FollowtheLawyer I am going to have that same goal. Two books a month – one business and one fiction. Should we hold one another accountable?!

  • ginidietrich

    @martinwaxman Dang. I still need to read Terry Fallis. Thanks for the reminder!

  • ginidietrich

    @InSeansOpinion The Help is really, really, really good (not to oversell it). What have you read this year that you’d add?

  • FollowtheLawyer

    @ginidietrich @FollowtheLawyer It’s a deal.

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  • CritSolutions

    Excellent suggestions – I’ve read The Help, Same Kind of Different and Drive, so I trust the remainder to be top picks as well. I would also recommend Stones Into Schools (human mission genre inspirational non-fiction) by Greg Mortenson (his first work, Three Cups of Tea, if you haven’t read it, is superb as well).

  • ginidietrich

    @CritSolutions I am going to start Three Cups of Tea today. @C_Pappas recommended it, as well. So, as soon as I’m finished with today’s task list, that’s where you’ll find me!

  • ginidietrich

    @FollowtheLawyer Did you see how @davefleet reads? 20 pages a day…and he read 28 books last year.

  • InSeansOpinion

    @ginidietrich Delayed response! I made a top five list of my faves of 2010, but I think only one came out this year: Secret Daughter. GREAT READ! Here’s the rest of my list:

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  • ginidietrich

    @noovai You should know your comment got a nod on Jim Thompson’s blog: