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.

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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