I am always looking for the next great book to read and thought I’d tap into the collective intelligence, the annual end-of-the-calendar-year trend for lists, and the power of new tools such as Twitter to find the next great book to read. Below is some of the why, how, and what I have in mind.
Mashup of Old and New
I continue to be intrigued by the power that comes from creating mashups of old and new. In this case, it is about finding the next great book to read (how old can you get?) using a new means such as Twitter, blogs, etc.
In short, what I’m asking you to do is reflect upon books you’ve read this past year, choose one or more that you found to be the best learning book for you, and share this with the rest of us via a tweet.* Ideally you can also articulate with more detail on why you chose this particular book and post this to your blog, Facebook page, or otherwise share your thoughts with the rest of us.
I considered making this more wide open and going for “best learning resource” that could include books, websites, blogs, tweets, slides, presentations, etc., and perhaps we should expand this idea and format to other resources. But for now, I have purposely limited this to that oh-so-yesterday medium—books—as I’m interested in finding more in-depth and detailed exploration of ideas, concepts, techniques, models, and the like. I not only find myself reading more than ever from a greater diversity of sources, dates of publication, and formats than ever, but as a voracious eBook reader, I find myself reading more books than I ever have (something which I already did a lot) and am finding exponentially more value in doing so. I’d like to continue that trend.
I have also purposely focused on “learning books” and have left the definition and interpretation of what a learning book is in this context to be open-ended and up to you. You can treat learning as a verb or a noun, just make it personal and passionate. For example, you can decide to choose the book which was the best at:
- Stimulating your personal learning, was most provocative, made you think the most, perhaps one you disagreed with the most?
- Causing the most change in your thinking, your perspective, your behavior.
- Stimulating new ideas, new questions, new paths to pursue.
- Being most helpful in your personal learning and/or with learning in your organization—personal or professional.
- Affecting a change in learning as a topic/subject.
- Any other way you want to interpret what “learning book” means to you.
List with a Twist
This is not an attempt to create a new top ten list, and least of all, any kind of most popular or bestseller list! There are lots of these and there are more to come I’m sure. And by all means, mention them here if you find some good lists that helped you find a great book for learning in 2009.
While I would not want to stifle more input, rather than creating an echo chamber of agreement with someone else’s #myBLB09 tweet, I’m hoping you will either add your own book or tweet about an additional benefit you got from reading a book someone else listed. I will not be compiling a summative list, I won’t be taking votes, or in any other way trying to categorize or rate these books. The #myBLB09 will help enough with that. Rather I’m trying to stimulate more sharing of what you found to be the most valuable for you. My assumption is that we will all benefit from our individual sharing of personal great reads.
However, I’m actually hoping to see hundreds or thousands of books listed here, which will enable each of us to add a new book to our own personal top ten list for 2009 before it ends all too soon.
Here’s how I’d suggest we can all help make this a productive and valuable resource and use of our time:
- Create a tweet with one of the best books you have read in 2009, which had a profound effect on your learning and perhaps that of others around you.
- I’ve created a Twitter hashtag #myBLB09 and be sure to add #myBLB09 to your tweet so others can find, follow, and benefit.
- Avoid the temptation to list a book you plan to read, have skimmed, think you should read, or ones you think everyone else is reading!
- Reflect upon books you read in 2009 and do not limit this to books which were published in 2009. In fact, I’m hoping that we’ll see more old, obscure, forgotten books than those on any bestseller lists.
- Write less about why you think others should read this book and more about why it was so beneficial and influential for you.
- Bonus points for a link in your tweet rather than text regarding the author, book, etc. so you can use more of the 140 characters to state why this is a great book for you!
Tip: Use the “custom naming” option in the URL shortener (bit.ly, snurl, tinyurl, etc.) that you use to make the link text more descriptive and part of your tweet text. Search on “custom naming URL shortening” or the like for help with this such as:
- Consider writing a more detailed account of how and why this was such a great learning book for you and posting this on your blog, Facebook page, or other ways you can share these thoughts with the rest of us. Then send a tweet with a link to your notes and include the #myBLB09 hashtag.
- If, as will often be the case, you have more than one great learning book you read in 2009, consider creating and posting your own personal list of “My Best Learning Books in 2009” and tweet a link to your list, adding #myBLB09 as well of course.
Help Me, Help You by Helping Me Help You
In the wonderful ways of the cyclical benefits of gifting, I’m hoping that by asking you to help me find my next great book to read, you will find your next great book to read. And at this time of year, if you are looking for a gift for friends and family, perhaps this will provide you with some gift ideas. However my real hope is that by doing this, I may in some small way be able to give a gift to you by asking you to consider giving yourself a gift—the gift of time for reading, thinking, and reflecting, which I find books to be great catalyst for. How’s that for circular!
While the end of year certainly brings with it lots of demands on your time, it can also provide an opportunity for the luxury of time to read. Consider it an investment in the future and an investment in yourself such that you can in turn be that much more useful and effective in helping others in the upcoming New Year and beyond. For those of you who use calendars and schedulers—electronic or paper—to help organize and manage your time, consider simply scheduling time for you to read something stimulating and provocative and the time to reflect and think about it all. It is no coincidence that in my experience with others who I regard to be extremely successful, I’ve discovered that they specifically carve out time for just this kind of activity at least annually and often more so. Why not you too?
You’ve done your best to be good all year right? You not only deserve this gift, but in the end it will enable you to better gift the rest of us with an even more powerful and passionate you in 2010.
Looking forward to your help in finding the next great book to read. Thanks!
* If Twitter and tweeting is new to you or you have been trying to figure it out, my experience is that this is one of those things that you can only learn experientially. Use it for a month and you’ll know if it is valuable for you. See my previous post “Twitterpated” for more details. Why not use this opportunity to start your experiential learning of Twitter now?