Social reading

This holiday, it feels like I’ve been treated to my fiction wish list with new books by two of my favourite authors, Kurt Vonnegut and Philip Roth. Roth’s is The Humbling, a short novel about acting and dying (literally); and Vonnegut’s is Look at the Birdie, a collection of early unpublished stories that very much ring true today. I’ve read one book and am halfway through the other and wish neither would end.

And speaking of books (now there’s a segue), I thought this is a good time to highlight and recommend a few social media reads that stood out for me in 2009. All three books offer insights on the lay of the social landscape and its growing importance to business.

They are (in no particular order):

SocialCorp by Joel Postman – I reviewed the book when it first came out and feel it’s a great starting point for any organization seeking a strategic approach to becoming more social. The writing is smart and crisp. Of particular interest are the case studies and Joel’s approach to ethics and transparency.

Six Pixels of Separation
by Mitch Joel – I finally met Mitch in person this year (having been a reader/listener for a long time) and thoroughly enjoyed his book. Again, it’s aimed at businesses who want to enter the social arena and is filled with ideas, tips and real-world examples. His writing is sharp and knowledgeable. And he’s managed to capture the essence of his engaging speaking voice in print (not an easy thing to do).

Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff – This isn’t a new book, but it stands the test of accelerated time (in this case about two years). It’s a researchers approach to social media, technographics and the marketplace. But while it’s filled with data, it’s anything but academic and offers practical approaches to getting started: listen (first ) and then engage the people you’re trying to reach (both inside and outside an organization).

One other non-fiction book that stood out for me is Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s written in his inimitable conversational style and has some wonderful stories about why some people succeed and others don’t; looking beyond raw talent and taking other, often surprising, factors into account.

By the way, I read all of these in the old fashioned print format. I’ve yet to get an e-reader, but now that Kindle’s available in Canada, that’s something I’ll probably try.

Do you have any other titles to add?