Stay up-to-date with what I’m reading, and find inspiration for your own reading list…
Ask.: The Counterintuitive Online Formula to Discover Exactly What Your Customers Want to Buy…Create a Mass of Raving Fans…and Take Any Business to the Next Level — by Ryan Levesque
I first heard about this book while listening in on a webinar with the author, and I was intrigued by Levesque’s method to figuring out what people really want to buy, so I immediately purchased his book. But I have to say that it’s been a little difficult for me to really get into this book. I skipped the section in which he delves into his personal story and his personal mission since he shared much of that during the webinar. As I was getting into the meat and potatoes of his formula, I got distracted by other books on my reading list, but I’m definitely going to finish this book soon since so many online marketers rave about Levesque’s approach.
Bad Penny — by John D. Brown
This is the perfect book to read when you need an escape from your day-to-day grind because it’s a simple, entertaining read. A thrilling page turner, the plot tells the story of Frank, a former Army veteran and ex-convict who tries to do the right thing when his former cellmate shows up at his house to collect on a favor; sheer action-packed chaos ensues. I love this book because it’s full of so many twists and turns, and as you read it, you’ll likely find yourself wondering if this story is going to find its way onto the big screen.
The Brain Audit — by Sean D’Souza
I already know that I’ll be re-reading this book many times over due to the fact that it’s soooo full of so much valuable information. I’ll definitely be re-reading this the next time I work on any sales copy of any kind. This book is a must read for anyone who writes sales copy because it breaks down – in a very easy to understand way – what goes on in a customer’s brain as they’re in the process of deciding whether or not to buy something. This book is brilliant!
Breaking Free: Discover the Victory of Total Surrender — by Beth Moore
This book offers a careful study of many of the passages in the Book of Isaiah (one of my favorite books in the Bible) to show how Christians today are similar to the captive Israelites. The goal of the book is to show Christians how to truly live a life of freedom in Christ. While I like the book and I love the message, I think I’m having a hard time getting through this book because of its organization which, in my opinion, doesn’t allow for a fluid study. So I’m taking my sweet time reading this book bit-by-bit, piece-by-piece.
Disappearances — by Howard Frank Mosher
I downloaded this book to my Kindle on New Year’s Eve 2014 because I wanted to start 2015 off right with a good book, and I couldn’t have picked a better book to get the year started with. Mosher has a very unique writing style in that the diction his characters use in this coming-of-age story is extraordinary. The story takes place along the border between Vermont and Canada in 1932 and follows the adventures of an eccentric whiskey smuggler who teaches his son the trade. I was honestly reluctant to read this book because I doubted that I’d be truly engaged, but this is such a unique story, and I surprisingly enjoyed every last delicious sentence!
Dove Season (A Jimmy Veeder Fiasco) — by Johnny Shaw
This is one of those books that gets better as the plot thickens. This novel tells the story of Jimmy, a man who returns home to Southern California to help get things in order as his father is dying of cancer. His father makes a final request for Jimmy to cross the border to Mexico to find a certain prostitute from his father’s past, and Jimmy and his childhood friend who goes with him find themselves in all sorts of trouble with the Mexican underworld on the other side of the border. As I said, this story starts off slowly, but it definitely gets better with time, and the ending is quite unexpected.
Elizabeth Street — by Laurie Fabiano
Awhile back, as I was researching for a NYC guide I created, I found out about the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side which focuses on the history of immigrants in America; I’ve since added the museum to my ‘must visit’ list the next time I’m in the city. So when I came across Elizabeth Street on Amazon, a novel that tells the story of an Italian family that immigrated to NYC at the start of the 20th century, I was instantly intrigued. This beautiful story follows Giovanna Costa and her family from Scilla, their small fishing village in Calabria, to the industrial-booming streets of early NYC. Reading about the trials and tribulations the family faced as they adjusted to their new life in America was as heartbreaking as it was heartwarming.
Fifty Shades (trilogy) — by E.L. James
When I heard that the movie was about to hit theaters in early 2015, I decided that it was time to read the books and see what all of the buzz was about. Man, oh man – does this series ever live up to the hype! Steamy, seductive, sadistic…I finished the entire series in a few weeks. Too bad the movie sucked and was so poorly cast!
Forever, Interrupted — by Taylor Jenkins Reid
It’s impossible to not fall in love with this story’s protagonist, Elsie Porter, who after a few days of being married, loses her husband in a fatal accident. The story goes back in time to show how Elsie and her husband met and married, but it also focuses on the present by taking readers on an emotional rollercoaster ride with Elsie as she learns to cope with her loss. If you’re married, as you read this book, you’ll certainly find yourself wondering how you’d deal if you were in Elsie’s shoes.
If you want to start a business but don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on marketing, you’ll want to implement some of the growth hacking strategies outlined in this book. The author does a great job of using examples of how big dogs like Facebook, AirBnB, and Dropbox (to name a few) have used these strategies to create brand awareness and reach more potential users and customers despite their small budgets in the early days of their businesses. This is a must read for entrepreneurs!
I Will Teach You to Be Rich — by Ramit Sethi
I’ve been on Ramit Sethi’s email list for the past year or so, and let me tell you, his emails are always so full of so much value about how to live a rich life (which is completely subjective). I’ve been meaning to read his bestselling book for some time now, and I’m finally starting to dive into it. I’ll give more feedback once I finish.
Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World — by Gary Vaynerchuk
This is easily one of the best social media marketing books I’ve read because it’s such an approachable, relatable book to read with lots of examples – both good and bad – across the major social platforms, of how to tell your brand’s story through social media while planning for the “right hook” of converting social media traffic to sales.
Launch It!: How to Use Videos, Podcasting, Online Media and Viral Marketing to Become a Recognized Expert in Any Industry — by Jonathan Taylor
This book uses case studies to show how successful brands have used online media and viral marketing in its various forms to grow their audience. Although I’d recommend this book, readers should know that it’s a quick read full of case studies and not an actual book of theories or a step-by-step guide.
The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses — by Eric Ries
Drawing from principles of lean manufacturing, this book reveals the science behind learning what customers want as well as product development, and it advocates turning away from the use of traditional business plans. This book is on the reading list of just about every startup founder out there, and so I’m giving it a read as well. Do I really like this book? The jury’s still out!
The Secrets of Mary Bowser — by Lois Leveen
This historical fiction is based on the true story of a woman who was born a slave in Virginia, set free by her slave owner-turned-abolitionist mistress, and who eventually became a spy on the Confederates during the Civil War. Despite the many ups and downs and bumps in the road along Mary Bowser’s journey, she was absolutely fearless and committed to her mission of helping slaves gain their freedom. Mary Bowser’s story was remarkable and I simply couldn’t put this book down.
Parable of the Talents — by Octavia E. Butler
So, I absolutely loved Parable of the Sower, Butler’s first book about Lauren Olamina and the new faith she teaches in the wake of the dystopian society in which she lives (the story is set in L.A. and other parts of California). But Butler’s follow-up book, Parable of the Talents, just isn’t resonating with me. In this book, Lauren Olamina’s character has developed and changed, and she’s just not the same person I fell in love with in Butler’s first book. Plus, the new faith that Lauren is teaching her followers is just way to froufrou for my tastes. Still, because I love Octavia Butler, I’m going to finish this book…eventually!
Running for My Life: One Lost Boy’s Journey from the Killing Fields of Sudan to the Olympic Games — by Lopez Lomong
This is a great book for the sheer fact that it’s full of so many priceless takeaways. The true story of Lopez Lomong epitomizes one of my favorite Bible verses, Jeremiah 29:11 which reads, “ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’ ”
In this book, Lopez Lomong tells the story of how he escaped the civil war in Sudan to Kakuma, a refugee camp in Kenya, where he lived for 10 years as an orphan. There’s a part in the story where he talks about Tuesdays in the refugee camp and he writes, “Yes, Tuesdays were the high point of our week, the one day we ate well – the day we ate garbage.” Wow! Sometimes we need reminders of how blessed we are, and Lomong’s story chronicling his life of squalor in the refugee camp to eventually becoming an Olympian was a humbling read.
*To learn more about other young men who escaped the Sudanese civil war, I highly recommend the touching 2003 documentary, Lost Boys of Sudan.
Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action — by Simon Sinek
The author of this book is an adjunct staff member of the RAND Corporation and he’s known for his TEDx Talk, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.” His book delves further into his TEDx Talk and explains why people are inspired by some leaders, messages, organizations, etc. over others, and it all boils down to the fact that “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Despite the fact that I totally agree with his message, so far I like this book, but I don’t love it. I’ll eventually finish it.
The Membership Economy: Find Your Super Users, Master the Forever Transaction, and Build Recurring Revenue — by Robbie Kellman Baxter
If you’ve ever thought about starting a membership-based business – whether subscriber-based, community-base, etc. – then this book is required reading. It’s full of so much helpful advice, things you need to consider, real world examples of how to structure your membership business, and examples of potential pitfalls. This is a book that I’ll definitely reference again and again as I continue to grow my business.
The Screwtape Letters — by C.S. Lewis
This religious satire delves into the mind of a demon named Screwtape who writes tactical letters to his newbie nephew about strategies to get humans to fall from grace in hopes of welcoming us into eternity in hell. While the letters are somewhat funny, they’re also quite poignant because they highlight some deep-rooted truths about faith. While I like this book, I’ve gotten distracted by other books on my list, so I look forward to finally finishing this sometime in early 2016.
Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers — by Gabriel Weinberg + Justin Mares
The reason why many new businesses fail is because they don’t get enough traction (i.e., real customer growth). In this book, the writers provide a 5-step process that successful companies have used to grow their customer base. If you’re a new entrepreneur or a marketer, this book is a must read!
Trail of Broken Wings — by Sejal Badani
Three Indian-American sisters and their mother must come to terms with the years of physical and verbal abuse they endured from their father and husband respectively when he falls into a coma. Through raw and emotional storytelling, Badani does a good job of conveying how we each cope with pain and loss.
Wool — by Hugh Howey
This dystopian novel (one of my favorite genres) is set in a silo although I’m not sure where, why, or how the characters got there. But the character development so far is excellent, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the story will unfold.