Recent Reading Recommendations

September 14, 2012 — Leave a comment

In June I pre-ordered two copies of Trust Me, I’m Lying, Ryan Holiday‘s book on how how the media works today, what’s wrong with it, and – if that’s what you want to do – how to manipulate it. If you ever go online and read blogs or get some of your news through social media, you should read it. He’s also made a cool video for the book.

By ordering the books early, I got some extras – and made a friend happy with a copy. One of the extras was Holiday’s reading list that he gives his interns (he’s the marketing director of American Apparel). Here’s some of the books of that list I (re)read recently:

The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America by Daniel J. Boorstin

The Image by Boorstin can be considered the 1.0 version of Ryan’s book. It was first published in 1962 and highlights the way a large part of our news is manufactured – which he calls “pseudo-events”. This one’s really relevant as new media is making our world more and more saturated which makes it hard to know what to pay attention to and what to ignore. He’s also the guy that defined a celebrity as “a person who is known for his well-knownness.”

We forget that celebrities are known primarily for their well-knownness. And we imitate them as if they were cast in the mold of greatness. Yet the celebrity is usually nothing greater than a more publicized version of us. In imitating him, in trying to dress like him, talk like him, look like him, we are simply imitating ourselves.

Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

This is a tiny book full of examples, quotes and drawings on how much of what we perceive as creative and original work was actually stolen. If you want to know where great thinkers, artists, sportsmen and entrepreneurs get their inspiration from, you should read this one. It will take you less than an hour.

“If you steal from one author, it’s plagiarism; if you steal from many, it’s research.” — Wilson Mizner.

Permission Marketing by Seth Godin

I’m halfway into this one, but I think I get the core of his message. In Permission Marketing Godin talks about how the internet impacted advertising. Godin says the most valuable thing we have is time and new technologies are allowing us to choose who we’re going to listen to and who we’re going to ignore. So on the one hand it became easier than ever for organizations to get their message out, on the other it’s even easier for customers to ignore what organizations are trying to tell.

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene (reread)

The first time I read this book was about a year ago. Ever since the first reading, quotes I highlighted in the book kept entering my mind. I even bought a pocket version to remind myself of the laws. In this book Greene lays out the history of power by referring to stories, anecdotes and quotes of the world’s greatest thinkers. He mentions Sun-Tzu, Napoleon, Andy Warhol, Machiavelli, Kissinger, Louis XIV, and many others. I know the title makes it seem as a nasty book for money-hungry assholes, but I’d recommend it to everyone wanting to get out and make a change in this world. If you don’t feel like reading all 500 pages; you can check out my summary in the Book Notes section.

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