My (homogeneous) reading list of 2018

I just finished listening to more than 40 marketing students share highlights from some of  the industry’s top marketing, entrepreneurship, leadership and business books. Along with some of their favourites, I create a reading list every year for both myself and for my next class.

As I was compiling my list of picks for 2018, I was surprised (not surprised?) and disappointed to see such a homegenous list of authors. One woman co-author, and the rest were men living in the United States. I have reached out to my network to ask for recommended books by under-represented and diverse authors for 2019, so please share your recommendations with me  so I can have a more balanced view of the business world for my students and myself.

In the meantime, here were my favourite books that I read in the past year:

  1. 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
    Tim Ferriss must work more than four hours per week, as he has an active blog, podcast, on top of his book deals. Tim has some nay-sayers (just Google Tim Ferriss is… and see what appears) but there are some great tips in this book on enjoying your life now instead of waiting for retirement, how to outsource some of your work and everyday tips for being more productive. I did pick this up at a thrift store for $3, so it was worth the small investment.
  2. Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger
    My friend Braden Dragomir is a digital storyteller and filmmaker and has been studying the psychology of storytelling. This is fascinating stuff, and the type of content that Jonah Berger explores in this amazing book. Berger is a Wharton marketing professor, but manages to explore the question ‘why do things go viral’ in a book that is easy to understand, entertaining, and relevant. His most recent book, Invisible Influence, is already on my to-read list for 2019.
  3. Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull
    I stumbled across this book after reading Steve Jobs’s biography and learned a bit about the history of Pixar. This book is part memoir, part philosophy, and part business book that features the fasciating story of Ed Catmull and his tireless vision to bring storytelling to life through animation. Catmull’s approach to human resources and the art of the story are well worth reading for anyone working in a creative industry.
  4. Ikonica: A Field Guide to Canada’s Brandscape  by Jeannette Hanna and Alan Middleton
    The only Canadian book on my list this year, Ikonica is a gorgeously designed history on some of Canada’s most beloved – and occasionally infamous – brands.  The stories behind Hudson’s Bay Company, Tim Horton’s, WestJet, and plentry others are inspiring for Canadian marketers.
  5. Crushing It! by Gary Vaynerchuk
    Gary Vaynerchuk as a special place in my heart, and I consistently listen to his curse-laden podcast to give me new ideas and get me inspired to aim high. This book shares a lot of the secrets of Gary’s success, as well as profiles on other entrepreneurs. I particularly loved the recommendations on social media channels that are currently ‘underpriced attention’ and some of his predictions on future channels. As Gary says, “no matter what you do, your job is to tell your story”.
  6. A Field Guide to Lies by Daniel J. Levitin
    I was first introduced to Daniel J. Levitin through “This is Your Brain on Music”,  a fascinating book that made me feel a bit better about my significant amount of student debt from music school. Dr. Levitin is a neuroscientist and cognitive psychologist so his approach to the subjects of music and advertising through a scientific lens are fascinating. In “A Field Guide to Lies”, Levitin helps you wade through the so-called fake news and gives you tools to be more critical when assessing the information we consume every day.
  7. Happiness at work by Srikumar Rao
    I originally thought this book was about how to find joy in your job, but the title doesn’t refer to work as employment but using happiness all day, every day. It reminded me a bit of the lovely little book Fish by Stephen Lundin, with the main theme of finding small ways to enjoy the micro-moments.
  8. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson
    It seemed like many middle-aged people I know were reading this book over the past year, and for good reason. It’s a tidy wee book that is funny and talks about shit sandwiches, so well worth the easy read.

Michael Enright, host of CBC’s The Sunday Edition, recently published an essay that shared that “for more than 85 percent of writers, their writing income falls below the Canadian poverty line”.  The  average writer in Canada makes $12,879 per year, so consider purchasing some Canadian books as presents for your loved ones this holiday season.

P.S. Continue to send your book selections for 2019 and I will share them with my students and the universe at large early in the new year.


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