Sometimes I want to stand up and say, “Hi, my name is Mike and I’m a bookoholic.” I got into publishing because I couldn’t kick my reading habit. This habit has continued to this day.
The purpose of this page is simply to list some of my favorite books. I have arranged them by section, so if you don’t want to scroll through the entire list, you can click on the link below and go straight to that section. I will update this list as I discover new favorites.
Chasing Daylight:How My Forthcoming Death Transformed My Life by Gene O’Kelly. A remarkable by the former CEO of KPMG. Diagnosed with late-stage brain cancer, O’Kelly figures out life only when he is faced with his own imminent death. Must reading!
John Adams by David McCullough. This is an amazing book—absolutely spellbinding. It’s easy to view the founding fathers in an idealistic way. However, McCullough shows their true humanity, warts and all. I found the leadership lessons invaluable.
Tough Choices: A Memoir by Carly Fiorina. This is a fascinating book. Ms. Fiorina took HP through a brand consolidation of Hewlett-Packard that is very similar to what we did with Thomas Nelson’s “One Company” initiative.
The Carrot Principle: How the Best Managers Use Recognition to Engage Their Employees, Retain Talent, and Drive Performance by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton. This book makes a compelling case for more recognition in organizations. It is very creative, with lots of real-world examples. It really stimulated my thinking.
The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive: A Leadership Fable The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive: A Leadership Fable by Patrick M. Lencioni. This is one of Lencioni’s least known books—and one of his best. It should be must reading for any senior executive or CEO. Thanks to Dan Meub for turning me onto it.
Inside Steve’s Brain by Leander Kahney. To understand Apple’s amazing success, you have to understand how Steve Jobs thinks. If you buy into the premise that extraordinary outcomes start with extraordinary thinking, you’ll want to understand how Jobs thinks and what you can learn from it.
It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy by Michael Abrashoff. This is a great book on leadership Brashoff does an excellent job making his Navy experience relevant to business. Thanks to Keith Gibbons for recommending this book to me.
The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t by Robert I. Sutton. Okay, I get that the title is a little raw. Get over it. You need this book. It’s honestly one of the best books I’ve read this year. Honest, practical, and inspiring.
Beyond Bullet Points: Using Microsoft® Office PowerPoint® 2007 to Create Presentations That Inform, Motivate, and Inspire by Cliff Atkinson. This is one of the best books currently available on making compelling presentations. If you use PowerPoint (or Keynote, for that matter), this is must reading. It will make you stand out from the crowd and deliver a truly stellar performance. I cannot recommend it too highly.
Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. This is a “must read” for anyone involved in communication. It provides the tools to make ideas “sticky,” i.e., unforgettable. It is extremely insightful and practical. I have read it through twice!
Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery (Voices That Matter) by Garr Reynolds. This is the book that first taught me that when it comes to presentations, less is more. You should read this book before you make another presentation to anyone. Then you should buy a copy for each of your employees!
slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations by Nancy Duarte. The is by far and away the best book I have ever read on visual design. The great thing is that Nancy applies it all to the art of preparing slideshows. If leaders would just read this book, we would double the effectiveness of most organizational meetings.
1776 by David McCullough. I think I read this book through in two sittings. I couldn’t put it down. Based on it’s resources and the inexperience of its leaders, America should have never been born. But, the early patriots succeeded against all odds. This book left me inspired and grateful.
The Civil War: A Narrative (3 Vol. Set) by Shelby Foote. If you like David McCullough (1776, John Adams, Truman, etc.), you will love this history of the Civil War. I could not put it down. As is the case of most history, the book is full of leadership lessons and insights.
The American Patriot’s Almanac: Daily Readings on America by William J. Bennett. If you like history, particularly American history, this is a fascinating and highly accessible book. It is divided into short daily readings that will give you a peak into the colorful tapestry that makes our country great.
Get to the Top on Google: Tips and Techniques to Get Your Site to the Top of the Search Engine Rankings—and Stay There by David Viney. This book is mind-blowing. If you have a Web site or a blog and are serious about getting it to the top of Google’s organic rankings, this is the book you need.
Print Is Dead: Books in our Digital Age by Jeff Gomez. If you are in the publishing business, this book is must reading. Gomez explains why print is dying and why content providers need not fear—provided they don’t get too attached to the delivery mechanism. I found it to be very compelling.
Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin. This book presents a whole new model of leadership. It also is the first book I have read that describes the role of technology in leadership and how it can be used to create a tribe of followers.
Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams. This is one of the best books I have read this year. It has really stretched my thinking about the future of book publishing—and every other kind of content. Now if we can just figure out how to monetize this brave new world of peer-created content!
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. I recently re-read this for our book club. I hadn’t read it since high school. It is an amazingly well-written book. It gives you a peak into pre-civil-war America. I’m not sure the good ol’ days were so good.
Crossing to Safety (Modern Library Classics) by Wallace Earle Stegner. This is one of the best novels I have ever read. It is an insightful story about the relationship between two couples over several decades. We read it in our book club, and it stimulated an amazing discussion.
The Noticer by Andy Andrews. Part biographical, part fiction, Andy Andrews weaves a fascinating story about “Jones,” a sage who mysteriously appears to offer perspective to those who have lost it. This is a short but powerful book that will leave you motivated to tackle life’s toughest challenges.
The Power and the Glory (Penguin Classics) by Graham Greene. We also read this book in our book club. I wanted to throw it across the room after three chapters. But I stayed with it. I’m glad I did. It is an amazing novel with some powerful, redemptive themes.
Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer by Richard Rohr. I have two books by Richard Rohr. Both of them blew me away. This book must be read in short doses. It is very potent. It is more than a book about prayer. It is a book about life.
For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy by Alexander Schmemann. This is one of the most important books I have ever read. It has had a profound and lasting impact on my worldview. I have taught through it several times. Fr. Alexander, an Orthodox priest, has one basic premise: God intended everything in creation to be sacramental.
The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns. This is one of my all-time favorite books. The stories moved me at a profound level. It will help you see poverty—and the opportunity to do something about it—in a whole new light. The book left me inspired.
On the Incarnation by St. Athanasius. This is another very important book. St. Athanasius articulated and defended the apostolic understanding of the incarnation against the Arians of his day. It is a deeply profound and moving book. The incarnation is the central truth of classical Christianity. The introduction by C.S. Lewis is the icing on the cake.
Golf Is a Game of Confidence by Bob Rotella. From time to time, I enjoy reading books on golf psychology. This is one of the best I have read. It basically focuses on directing a golf ball like you direct any ball—you focus on where you want it to go!
Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner by Dean Karnazes. Okay, Dean Karnazes is a freak of nature. I get that. No one can do what he does to his body and survive. But this is the most motivational book on running I have ever read. I doubt I would have ever started running or stayed with it, if it had not been for this book.