I don’t know about you, but I am always looking for advice on books to add to my reading list. This is especially true in the winter when curling up with a good book and a blanket is high on the priority list. So, at a recent meeting I asked my colleagues what they’re reading. From industry insights to fictional adventures, here is what we are reading this month. I think our answers say a lot about who we are and what drives us (in all the best ways). Spoiler Alert: One of my colleagues gets a little bit meta with her answer.
Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath explains why it is so hard to create change in our workplaces and communities because the emotional and rational parts of the mind are always competing. Our emotional side says eat the cupcake, it will taste great while our rational side says all that sugar isn’t good for you. The authors use this knowledge to create a system for change through consensus-building. I like the book because it relates directly to a lot of our work. Clients want us to help change behavior through communication, but change is difficult. I am hoping it will help me to understand how to create change where change is needed.
I was really enjoying reading various tell-all books (and listening to them on Audible) by comedians like: Bossypants by Tina Fey, Yes Please by Amy Poehler, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (and other concerns) by Mindy Kaling and Girl Walks into a Bar by Rachel Dratch, so I thought Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance would be a great next pick. I quickly realized that this book was in a different genre entirely. In public relations, we know what a large role social media plays in the industry’s day-to-day communications. This book explores how social media and technology has also drastically influenced our love lives and the ways in which we go about finding a life partner. Here is a passage from the book that ties in research from our great city:
In 1932, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania looked through five thousand consecutive marriage licenses on file for people who lived in the city of Philadelphia. Whoa: One-third of the couples who got married had lived within a five-block radius of each other before they got married. A whopping 12.64 percent of couple had lived at the same address. – Modern Romance
After a long day of staring at multiple electronic devices, I enjoy relaxing during my evening commute with a good ol’ paperback book. I’m currently reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Set in a 2044 dystopia caused by global warming, resource depletion and economic stagnation, this novel follows a poverty-stricken high schooler, who, much like the rest of the world, spends most of his time in a virtual world called the OASIS—a unblemished society that’s an escape from the horrors of the real world. When the OASIS’s creator passes away, his will outlines several clues that lead towards an “Easter egg” within OASIS that will not only give whomever finds it access to his massive fortune, but also control of the OASIS itself. This bestseller is worth a read, and it is currently receiving a film adaption by Steven Spielberg.
Much more often than not when picking a book to read, I choose non-fiction. At the moment, I am reading Kids Beyond Limits by Anat Baniel, and Starbright Traveler: A Travel Resource for Parents of Children with Special Needs by Jesemine Jones and Ida Keiper. I’ve also just started, and am loving, Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography, Born to Run.
In This Is How You Pitch: How to Kick Ass In Your First Years of PR, Ed Zitron levels with his readers right from the start, and as a new PR pro I feel like sometimes he’s reading my mind. It’s insightful, it’s funny, and it’s practical. I’m not a fan of lofty advice without suggestions for actually taking action. Ed cuts right to the chase and gives his best tips for succeeding in the modern PR world. Anyone in the field should read it – new or experienced. I have laughed out loud at least four times (once, in the quiet car of the Amtrak train) which is rare when reading an “industry” book. Love it.
While I love a long form news article or a podcast delving deep into a single issue, when I sit on the couch at night I prefer to get lost in a well written piece of fiction. I’ve been enjoying the Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante and I am currently on the third novel, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay. The novels are an engaging examination of the elastic nature of friendship in which the bond of two young girls in Naples in the 1950s remains the unifying thread through their coming of age story which spans four books. What draws me to these novels is both the familiarity created through the examination of fluctuating relationships, and the complete foreignness of the story from my own life.
As I try to keep my sanity intact after recent current events, I’ve been reading a lot (and watching a lot of Vanderpump Rules). Two books I recently finished stand out – the first, Grief Is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter, is unlike anything I’ve read in some time. Sad, funny, and helpful. And, the second, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond, about Americans living in extreme poverty, sheds light on a faction of the country that is often ignored.