The Six Books You Need on Your Shelf

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*This post first appeared at Primer Magazine.

I am a book snob. There I said it. I love books. I love them new and I love them old. But I love to keep them, make notes and fold the pages. Needless to say, I love to read. Reading and writing go back nearly as far as the spoken word, and each day, each book offers a chance at a new story.

Whether it is at your “home office” or in your actual office, you need to have at least a few books on a shelf. Trust me, it shows class and sophistication. And no, old college textbooks don’t count. They only count if you’re going to medical school or have books that are research reports that you would reference a lot. That “Introduction to Writing” book either needs to be put in a hiding place or donated to the library.

These are six books from a broad range of genres that will not only provide conversation starters for visitors to your office, but will show your visitors you have a range of reading interests and passions.

“Honeymoon With My Brother” by Franz Wisner

Okay, I know what you’re thinking… and no, the guy does not marry his brother! Franz is living the dream. Great job. Good money. California boy. Engaged to a great girl. But then it happens. Great girl dumps him the weekend before the wedding. What happens next is an affirmation of life. He goes on the honeymoon and invites his brother to tag along.

What Franz finds is life. I won’t ruin the story, but you’ll join him and his brother on their journey through despair and joy, only to find that love is all around.

The Starbucks Experience” by Joseph Michelli

Even though this book was written three years ago, its content is still very relevant to marketing and to Starbucks. And with founder Howard Schutlz’s return as CEO, the book is as relevant as ever to Starbucks. It’s called, “The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary,” and it’s written by Joseph Michelli, who in writing the book, traveled to Starbucks’ all over the world to gain the complete “experience.”

He spoke with executives, baristas and customers and what he found was a culture that promoted personal touch and inspired interaction of a community. It is a book all marketers, branding experts and CEOs should read and take to heart.

Current Affairs
There are a lot of choices here, but I am going to recommend two books that while I haven’t read personally, they have both been recommended to me, and they are both on my reading list.

“In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan

You should read this about diet. More precisely, why we as Americans have failed in eating right. Pollan dissects the history of food pyramids and no-carb diets to come up with his solution: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

“The Bottom Billion” by Paul Collier

Additionally, a book with political ramifications in an increasingly interconnected world, Collier concedes that while less and less people are living out of poverty, the ones who are, are falling dramatically behind. But rest assured, he offers solutions for the 21st Century.

Both of these books are relevant politically and with the craze to be healthy.

“Team of Rivals” by Doris Kearns Goodwin

I admit that I am a history “buff.” I love reading about World War II, about presidents, the American Revolution and the American Civil War. I have enjoyed reading historical fiction books by the Sharra family and by the great Stephen Ambrose, but nothing beats Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals.” Coming in at over 700 pages, the book is a monster. But is also contains some of the most primary sourced information about Abraham Lincoln and the team he assembled around him.

Aside from learning about history, this book teaches many lessons on leadership and building a team. Not a team of consensus, but a team of people who will challenge you. This is the most insight into Lincoln I’ve been able to find. As a reader, you are taken into his mind during his personal debate about freedom, war and politics.

“Riding with the Blue Moth” by Bill Hancock

For the sports fans out there, you may remember back in 2001 when the Oklahoma State basketball team lost 10 members in a plane crash. I do. I was on vacation with my family. Then when I worked at the University of Northern Iowa, the father of one of the people killed in the crash mailed a copy of his book to my boss. “Riding with the Blue Moth” is a true story of a father’s depression and return to life. It’s author, Bill Hancock, used to run the NCAA Men’s DI Basketball Tournament and is now the head of the (much hated) Bowl Championship Series. You’ll laugh, cry and feel inspired to do what he did, ride a bike across the country – to find yourself.

What books are you reading right now? What is on your recommended reading list for the rest of us?

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  1. WOW! What a prestigious list in which to be included. I am in your debt. Thanks for your consideration and analysis. I would love to hear what you think of my book about the Ritz-Carlton “The New Gold Standard” and my upcoming book about Zappos. Again thank you. Joseph

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