We all read books. Whether we’re into non-fiction or fiction, they affect our lives more often than we would ever think.
Here I’ve compiled a list of probably the ‘best’ books that I’ve ever read. These have all made an impact on my life in some way or another, mostly professionally but also some personally. I’m confident that wherever you are right now, there’ll be something you can take from each of them.
10. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell (2000)
“The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.”
A solid contribution to begin the list. Malcolm Gladwell discusses how modern issues – ranging from crime to youth to fashion – and mysterious sociological changes, can all behave essentially like epidemics. In Malcolm’s brilliant conversational style, he shows how an intervention at the crucial moment can start an epidemic, and subsequently presents three rules in the tipping points of things “going viral”. This was a game-changing book for me when I first picked it up around ten years ago.
9. Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz (1964)
“The prospect has – not a desire – but a need. He recognizes the need immediately. But he doesn’t yet realize the connection between the fulfillment of that need and your product.”
Possibly the main book on copywriting and advertising. But as this masterpiece channels the forces in the marketplace that controls sales, it’s a must for anyone selling or promoting anything (so basically anyone who runs a business). Using examples still relevant today, Eugene Schwartz presents advanced concepts of the psychology of marketing with direct response. Use this as a reference to any advertising you consider undertaking.
8. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (1988)
“Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.”
The only outright novel on this list. Sometimes you read something at the right time in your life where it all makes total sense, that comes together as more than “just a story.” This is one of them for me. Paulo Coelho writes about a young boy in search for his treasure. Taking us on a journey through varying terrain towards the Egyptian desert, what the boy discovers is more rewarding than anything he’s ever dreamed of. Brilliantly written, this book has the ability to really touch your heart and gives you clarity to enable you to make those tough decisions we all must face.
7. Permission Marketing by Seth Godin (1999)
“Marketers want to get their messages in front of you. They must get their messages in front of you, just to survive. The only problem is – do you really want more marketing messages?”
Seth Godin’s blog is one I’d highly recommend that you follow as it really does give you a daily dose of everything marketing. And in one of Seth’s early book releases, this is exactly what he delivers. Although maybe slightly dated in the context of its digital focus, this book is still very relevant today. Traditionally we’ve been led to believe that marketing is about stuffing messages in people’s faces. Here Seth argues the opposite and introduces the idea of leveraging permission.
6. Extraordinary Popular Delusions And The Madness Of Crowds by Charles Mackay (1841)
“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.”
When it comes to bread and butter marketing, it’s all about understanding how people, and more so, how groups of people think. In this beautifully decorated book, Charles Mackay illustrates the topic of “group thinking” with a series of highly relevant and sometimes crazy examples. And, even though, this book now is well over 100 years old, it still captures the trends behind crazes and fads today. Essentially what this book tells us, is that people never change. And Charles does so in such a thought-provoking (and even sarcastic) manner where you’ll easily find yourself hooked amongst these crazy historical accounts.
5. The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss (2007)
“To enjoy life, you don’t need fancy nonsense, but you do need to control your time and realize that most things just aren’t as serious as you make them out to be.”
The digital world is still growing, and so too is the desire to escape the daily grind and work from the beach on your laptop for just a few hours per day. Sadly, for most, this is never going to happen. But this book is fascinating in the way that it makes you think again about the “concept” of work and challenges the significance of the work you’re doing right now. Think of this controversial book what you wish, though I urge you to pick it up nonetheless.
4. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (170-180 CE)
“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”
Prepare to see the world through a much different perspective. Emperor Marcus Aurelius reveals a collection of his spiritual thoughts in a turbulent period during the Roman Empire. Every time I pick up this book, I come away with something new. Meditations is considered by many as the ultimate text on self-discipline, personal ethics, humility, self-actualization, and most importantly strength. This has to be the most practical book available when it comes to philosophy, and perhaps even life.
3. The Greatest Salesman In The World by Og Mandino (1968)
“Your only limitations are those you set up in your mind, or permit others to set up for you.”
The bonds between marketing, sales, and the customer should be as tight-knit as ever. In reality, very rarely are they. Even today the thought of being approached by sales person sends shivers down our spines. But in this remarkably spiritual book, Og Mandino sees salespeople much differently and there to do good. Whether you’re in sales, marketing or you simply just deal with people on a daily basis, take the evening out to read this, it’ll be the best thing you ever did.
2. Influence by Robert Cialdini (1984)
“The obligation to receive reduces our ability to choose whom we wish to be indebted to and puts that power in the hands of others.”
When I first read this, I was absolutely blown away. Robert Cialdini’s simple yet comprehensive take on how we make decisions – and what influences those decisions – can be applied to everything you do today. In a series of research observations, Robert is able to demonstrate how your actions and words affect even the smallest of desires within your target audience. This book has the power to expose all of the terrible marketing mistakes you are making. Seriously.
1. Guerrilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson (1984)
“Marketing is not an event, but a process… It has a beginning, a middle, but never an end, for it is a process. You improve it, perfect it, change it, even pause it. But you never stop it completely.”
In the heyday of mass production (and therefore mass marketing), the assumption was if you spent big on advertising, you’d see big profits. This just isn’t the case today. But Jay Conrad Levinson realised this exactly 30 years ago, which put this book years ahead of its time. Jay argues that low cost unconventional efforts can often create better results than any other method of advertising… boy how right he was.
That’s probably my current top 10 of all time. There are a few more that I’d have liked to add, though this presents a mixture of the best I’ve encountered so far.
Can you recommend any?