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Well it's the 1st December so time to offer some help in the run up to Christmas! If you are looking for some Christmas Book inspiration for friends, family, colleagues or your team what better than to give a top business or marketing book to give them something to think about when they aren't passing the port or munching on a mince pie. These are the best books that I've read recently and I've sorted them into four sections: digital and internet, brand & marketing, economics & business, personal & entrepreneurship. Each one would make a great book for Christmas either because they are beautiful or packed full of fascinating and useful ideas.
Digital & Internet Books for Christmas
The Revolution will be Digitised by Heather Brooke
This book is sub-headed: "Dispatches from the information war." And opens with a powerful quote from Thomas Jefferson about the value of ideas spreading being like the air in which we breathe.
What is so compelling about this book is that it is a series of vignettes from Iraq to Washington to Berlin all about how information and ideas are changing our beliefs and understanding of the world both for good and ill.
The premise for the book is that we are in an extraordinary age – akin to a new enlightenment where information and knowledge flows freely. However there is also huge negative forces at work – the gulf in information equality, the power of the state and big business, and how our privacy is under threat and no longer valued.
This is a well written, punchy, easy to read and engaging dip into the war for information that is surrounding us.
The Filter Bubble by Eli Pariser
I've done a video review of this book in a previous post
Information is Beautiful by David McCandless
What with infographics everywhere around us today and the Guardian-style of information communication becoming more and more prevalent this coffee-table book presents a set of fantastic examples of how to bring information and data alive through graphics.
All of us may have been taught at school with ruler, pencil and graph paper how to draw a table, or chart, and may have even got quite good at graphs in Powerpoint but if you really want to see how information can be beautifully rendered and represented then this book is a must have.
Information is Beautiful would make a wonderful Christmas Book for the right person interested in data and analysis not just in business but across the spectrum.
Marketing & Brand Books for Christmas
Brandwashed by Martin Lindstrom
Brandwashed has got a mixed press but I enjoyed it. Like many books of its like it tries to make a huge amount of fuss over what is pretty standard marketing and brand practise.
We all know that marketing surrounds us all and uses psychology to try and trick us into letting our buying barriers down. Martin Lindstrom's examples are good and the book is easy to read.
You don't need to be in marketing to enjoy this book just a consumer, victim to some of the £16bn spent on trying to BrandWash us in the UK every year.
Priceless: the hidden psychology of value by William Poundstone
No-one knows the price of anything anymore. Everything is deep discounted or on offer from GroupOn! With DFS shouting about 75% of that sofa how do we actually know what the actual thing costs.
Pricing is a very modern game from "free" models on the internet to the psychology of the sale this book explores how we think about value and what we use to assess it. This book is packed with examples and experiments into price that expose why we react, for example to £9.99 vs £10 and why.
A well researched and yet still entertaining book for any business or marketing person.
LogoDesignLove by David Airey
As Christmas Books go for brand and marketing folks this is a winner. Again it is of the coffee table variety but is a beautifully produced object in it's own right. The graphics, typography and illustrations are wonderful.
This book goes through all the elements of what makes up an iconic logo from Kellogs to Nokia to Google breaking them down into elements, process and the representation of a product that connects with consumers.
This would make an amazing Christmas Book for someone with a brand design bent.
Business & Economics Books for Christmas
The Economics Book by Dorling Kindersley
Don't let the Dorling Kindersley tag put you off and make you think this is a noddy economics book. Whilst it might not satisfy Adam Smith or John Maynard Keynes, for the rest of us it would make a great Christmas book.
It is beautifully laid out and designed and gives a very satisfying dip-in, dip-out approach to economic history from the earliest forms of economic exchange to one page summaries on the key economic thinkers over time.
A wonderful looking book this would be a great book to give this Christmas.
The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett
Perhaps a little heavy for Christmas but what better time to think about equality, or rather inequality, than at a time of traditional opulence. Reading this book will make that yearly viewing of Scrooge even more filled with meaning.
I found this book full of optimism and hope suggesting a powerful diagnosis of why inequality is such a cancer in society and what we, and businesses especially can do to tackle it. Packed full of anecdote and examples Spirit Level is a well written and easy to understand book about an important subject. I also read Will Hutton's Them and Us about similar themes but this book is much lighter and digestible.
Personal & Entrepreneurship Books for Christmas
The Lean Start Up by Eric Ries
A modern classic and absolutely required reading if you are going to be the next Mark Zuckerberg! This book is packed full of practical and pragmatic advice, which is largely well founded and even when it isn't still makes you think about the way you are approaching building and scaling your business.
The book is well structured and methodological without being too boring which many in this genre of books are.
A great Christmas book for any budding or mid way through business and brand builders out there.
Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur
I absolutely loved this book and it would be a great Christmas book for any budding entrepreneurs. The book presents a 9 block approach to creating a business model from the value proposition to the value chain. It is easy to engage with and written in a very accessible way.
The rather bland and academic title is perhaps slightly off putting because the book itself is an absolute joy and uses pencil illustrations and clever visual metaphors to deliver a very visually stimulating experience.
Review summary of The Filter Bubble: A fantastically interesting and easy to grasp book that explores an important consequence of the personalisation revolution.A must read.
The Filter Bubble is a thought provoking read by Eli Pariser. Mr Pariser is a veteran online campaigner who Avaaz.org one of the world's largest citizen's organisations. I've followed his writings and thinking over the past few years especially in the context of my business ALLOW. The Filter Bubble is easy to read with some really great examples and stories contained within it's pages. He talks about the obvious companies such as Google and Facebook but also those that are in the background such as Experian and Axciom. If you interested in the internet, privacy, marketing, society, or just curious about how Google makes the decisions it does on what to show you then this is a good book to read.
Last week I read a fantastic book called Cradle to Cradle about eco-effective product design. Really easy to read and really mind expanding. Definitely a read for all those involved in designing and delivering products.
Here is a link to it on Amazon (its an affiliate link so you know!) and my two minute video review.
I am thinking of doing a series of these video book reviews. Please give me feedback on whether you think they work and what I should include.
Here is also a TED talk by William Mcdonough on the key concepts.
What do you think? Leave a comment below and share these important concepts.