My Summer Reading List

I’ve read a lot of great books this Summer, and thought some would be worth sharing with you.  Below is a list (book titles are links to amazon), each with a brief description, and my subjective rating, on a scale of 1 to 10 (I hate the 1 to 5 scale, it’s not granular enough).

Tribes by Seth Godin

If you’ve followed my previous posts, you know that I’m a huge fan of Seth Godin.  Tribes  has inspired me to change my perspective on how I interact with customers, and explained the value of connecting people to each other.  The basic premise of the book (a mere 160 pages long) is that people want to be led, and that anyone can lead, if they choose to do so, regardless of social or economic position.  My Rating:  7 out of 10


The Talent Code by Daniel Cole

Talent Code starts out a little slow, laying the scientific groundwork for why our brains work the way they do, and what role that plays in the success of people who appear to the outside world as “talented”.  What Cole postulates is that while we may have certain physical traits that pre-dispose us for success in a chosen field (like say, for example, being 6’11” helps if you want to be a basketball player), deep practice, coaching, and ignition have everything to do with our success.  My Rating:  6 out of 10


REWORK by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Every once in a while, you read or watch or hear something that changes your whole perspective on life.  In 2010, REWORK was that something for me.  Of the 260ish pages, I’ve dog-eared more than a third, as a topic I need to go back to and re-visit, as a point I needed to re-read.  This book spits in the face of conventional business wisdom, and challenges the standard operating procedures of every three-letter-acronym, public company in existence.  If this book were a character in the movie The Breakfast Club, it would most certainly be played by Judd Nelson.   My Rating:  9 out of 10


LINCHPIN by Seth Godin

Lots of dog-eared pages on LINCHPIN too.  This book is all about the creation of “art” (meaningful work), and how that art separates us from the masses and saves us from extinction.  The goal, he argues, is not to live, as a cog in compliant fear of breaking the rules, but rather to invent, improve, build a map when none exists, and in doing so, you will be rewarded for standing out.  My Rating:  7 our of 10

By far, my favorite was REWORK.  I’ve read it twice, and recommended it to almost everyone I’ve met.  So if you’re only going to pick one from this list, make it that one.

If you’ve got a favorite, please leave a comment.  I’m building my Fall Reading List, and my queue is pretty short right now.

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5 Responses to “My Summer Reading List”

  1. Wil Brawley Says:

    Matt, solid John Bender reference for REWORK. I agree that’s one of the best books I’ve read. It helped me crystalize quite a few unconventional philosophies I had and opened my eyes to many new ones. My guess is most people that read it nod their heads knowingly and/or smile wryly at least once on every single page, and find themselves thinking “I’ve always thought that but I figured I was crazy to believe something so quirky” or “My gut has always been telling me that so I’m glad to know I’m not insane!” or “Now that’s something I had never thought of….but, I’ll be damned….that’s absolutely brilliant!!!”

    I’m reading “Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Workplace” and it is fantastic. Ricardo Semler took over his family’s stodgy, old school Brazilian manufacturing business (Semco – http://www.semco.com.br/en/) in the early 80’s and started implementing the kinds of stuff you read about in REWORK. Let me reiterate…. in the early 80’s. So by the time he wrote this book in 2003 he had tons of evidence that these concepts work. Anybody who points to REWORK and claims that stuff only works in web-based businesses should read Maverick. Actually anybody who reads any business books should read Maverick. Semler did stuff like literally getting rid of their policies and procedures and replaced them with a culture of common sense decision making, got rid of a hierarchical org chart and created all kinds of autonomy by breaking the business into lots of small teams, let the employees create the company’s profit sharing plan, opened their financials for all employees to see and then taught employees how to read balance sheets and cash flow statements, and on and on and on….

    I also really like “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” which was written 30 years ago but is still fascinating and has lots of utility in sales and marketing.

    And I look forward to reading “The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean” because Laird Hamilton and these guys that travel the world in search of 100-foot waves are insane but I admire their passion and that stuff is just plain interesting.

  2. Wil Brawley Says:

    I also hear “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose” by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh is very good…

  3. IntelligentSelling Says:

    Thanks Wil. You have always been a great source of suggested reading materials…starting way back with the first 37 signals online book, Getting Real. Maverick sounds like the next one on my list….

  4. Jake Says:

    Becoming A Category of One by Joe Calloway. It is a “good-to-great” themed book with relevant anecdotes from respected companies across all industries.

    Gates of Fire by Stephen Pressfield. Every book suggestion list from me will include this book, which focuses on the mentality of a warrior, teamwork, and personal conviction, in addition to being a great read overall. This is a historically-based fiction work set in ancient Greece. If you make it through the first 50 pages, you will finish this book and probably go right back to chapter one for a re-read. If you want to read a book that offers self-impovement tips without being a self-improvement book, this should be on your list.

  5. IntelligentSelling Says:

    OK, Jake, you’ve recommended Gates of Fire more than once, so I will definitely add it to the list. Thanks for the comment.

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