Kathy Sierra posted an interesting inquiry The Book I Wish People Would Read... . Because, as she points out, October is National Book Month, and because I enjoyed a voracious appetite for reading since a very young age, I would like to pose the question to the readers of this blog.
What have you learned from books that you'd like to share with others? Some parameters:
- Choose one fiction and one non-fiction book. I find that what we read for sheer fun is usually as interesting it not more interesting than what we deem 'required reading'.
- Explain what you have learned from that book. This is the why others should read it part.
- You may also list one runner up per category, if you're so inclined.
- No judgements on others' picks, please. If you're so inclined, just vote on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being 'off the charts'.
The Stranger House by Reginald Hill
This is the story of two strangers, twenty-something Aussie math whiz Samantha Flood and sober Spaniard Miguel (Mig) Madero whose paths cross in the tiny English village of Illthwaite, home to the Stranger House, an inn that has hosted weary travelers for more than 500 years. Samantha and Mig, are drawn to one another as each discovers secrets simmering beneath the surface of Illthwaite's deceptively serene facade. The difference between these unlikely journey mates become what makes them so strong as team mates once they zero in a common purpose. The writing prose is a delight too.
The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More by Chris Anderson
The Long Tail is colloquial terminology for statistical distributions known as Pareto tails. Whether you buy the argument that Chris Anderson makes, the book is an absolute eye-opener and puts a language and theory to the phenomena of seemingly infinite choice Web sites and online retailers such as Amazon, eBay, Rhapsody, Netflix and others seem to offer. The "countless niches", Anderson writes, are market opportunities for those who cast a wide net and de-emphasize the search for blockbusters. It's a provocative analysis of the three forces of: (1) democratization of the tool of production; (2) minimization of the costs of distribution, which in turn minimize the costs of consumption; (3) the connection of consumers to one another to minimize the noise down the tail -- this is what he calls filters and peer reviews.
This book single-handedly opened up a whole new conversation for me around the next step in my career. Suddenly, it was easy for me to adopt a blog as the perfect medium to bridge into what's next: Typepad (the tool producer) made the cost of entry very approachable; the Internet, with its immediate digital content distribution, made it easy for anyone to access my ideas through FeedBurner and Technorati, etc.; the net created by topic and the power of word-of-mouth in the communities who are open to the topics I tackle function as a filter making it easy for like-minded people to find it.