I heart books and book analogs!
I think we all wish we could get to the library more — peaceful yet dusty place that it is — but reality often relegates our reading time to blogs, ereaders and books ordered online. Luckily, there’s amazing stuff out there. From life-changing and inspiring to quick-pick-me-up to provoking. Love it! Love that people of all stripes are pushing so much good thinking and content into the world these days, thanks to empowering technology and the beautiful, creative-economy- related shift in cultural mindset that acknowledges the power, usefulness and sheer coolness of content creation. To this end, I thought I’d build a little library here of resources I’ve come across and think you might like. Feel free to send me feedback on anything here, or recommend stuff to me!
Oh and, yes, I’ve read everything I’m recommending and no, these aren’t affiliate links or anything.
Productivity, lifehacking, philosophy of work, biz and creativity
- Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. People love or hate the 37signals guys and their hard-assed, super-practical philosophy or work and life. I’m one of the lovers. I think these guys are brilliant and I admire their confidence and their insights no end. Stylistically, this book is strikingly Hemmingway amidst the sea of baroquely Melville-esque competitors.
- Getting Real by Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson and Matthew Linderman. The baby brother of Rework. Similar ideas, similar style, still great. You can also read it for free online.
- Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky. Great anecdotes and ass-kicks to inspire you to get from hmmm… to done. Cuts the fluff out of productivity methodology and sticks to the crucial bits while reminding you that it’s not really about the details of the process, it’s about having one, having support and having passion. Also, see my (sort of) full review in the Zine.
- Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod. A wonderfully quick and engrossing read, again, reminding you that believing in yourself and your creativity are more than half the battle for making ideas into realities. Lots of inspiration and advice for creative economy folks told plainly and practically without fluff, bother or highfalutin anything.
- Love is the Killer App by Tim Sanders. I’ll warn you outright that this book is cloying as hell and you have to take the style with a grain of salt. That said, it has some very valuable ideas in it about sharing your knowledge and, generally, being a good and ethical, humane person, even in business. A lot of these ideas, like sharing your contacts and your ideas and generally operating in a transparent and truthful way are second nature to a lot of GenY-ers and “digital natives” but they can come as a revelation to those schooled in traditional business practices and Cold War mentality. The kind of book you’ll be able to pass on to people who need it when the time is right (and, ironically, that’s exactly what it’s about!).
Marketing and social media stuff
- ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett. I like to think that the publisher made them have that tacky, embarrassing, turn-it-upside-down-when-you-check-out-at-Borders subtitle. Because, really, this book is not cutthroat or obnoxious or callous. It’s got lots of invalable advice about being a good blogger (as, of course, does the Problogger blog) and it’s not just for people looking to make a mint from blogging. In fact, setting out to make a mint from blogging is extremely silly if you ask me — but using a blog to support your business, to build business or to disseminate ideas and establish yourself in your niche are quite all right. This book will give you lots of help.
Chiefly of interest to designers, developers, freelancers (and perhaps the people who work with them)
- Content Strategy for the Web by Kristina Halvorson. Really a must-read for anyone building and/or designing websites these days. It’s the seminal text, thusfar, on content strategy. What it is, how to do it, why you must. Also a super-useful reference for anyone who needs to write copy for their own website or is wondering why their web designer is getting all in-their-face about content.
- Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug. Yet another must-read for anyone designing and building websites or dealing with user-experience in any way. This book lays it out in the simplest terms, with lots of pictures and examples and really doesn’t make you think too hard — yet you’ll “get” all sorts of things about design patterns and what makes a good website vs. a bad one. I encourage people working with designers and developers to build their sites to take a look at this one.
- Neruo Web Design: What Makes them Click? by Susan M. Weinschenk. Once you’ve made it through Don’t Make Me Think, graduate to this book for a deeper dive into the factors that motivate web users and how you can use knowledge of human behavior to make a better website. I like to think of this as helping people have a better experience and putting less crappy stuff in the world rather than “exploiting” them. I don’t believe in trickery and gimmicks. But knowing what people want and why is highly useful. Pretty fascinating read, backed with studies rather than anecdotes.
Blog posts of note
- Brad Fitzgerald in Graphic Design Blender on work-life balance and remembering why you freelance
- Whose permission are you waiting for?. Pam Slim gives you the smackdown on giving yourself a little credit and going for it with your business. Nice pick-me-up if your confidence is low.
- Sarah J. Bray: Diary of a web worker: Business is not for sissies. I love Sarah for her confidence and her great marketing, and web design/coding skills. When she wrote this post completely admitting to weaknesses, to not knowing what to do, I found it pretty inspiring — not that she was having troubles, but that she talked about it so candidly. Made me admire her even more.