Recently ran into an college acquaintance. A beautiful, funny girl. We started talking about business - as we are both small business owners who left the corporate life - and she asked about my reading list. I floundered. I think I came up with How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie and Who Says Elephants Can't Dance by Lou Gerstner. Here's the thing: I read all the time. My reading list isn't just business, certainly seldom focuses on writing and definitely has more than a smattering of science-fiction involved.
For instance, Paolo Bagucigalupi's book The Windup Girl pretty much nails where medicine and agriculture are headed. Then there is Sex at Dawn, which dovetails nicely with The Windup Girl, and presents a perspective on the history of humans before agriculture and an examination of the basic psychological and anthropological needs of human beings.
I read a little Seth Godin every morning because of his RSS feed, Godin integrates everything from Bagucigalupi, Carnegie, Gerstner, and Sex at Dawn into pithy 4-5 paragraph examinations of business and personal interactions.
Each of these books strengthens my ability to observe humans without projecting myself onto them. I'm better at business, and I'm a better storyteller. So, here are the books on my closest shelf at this moment. This is what I read:
Hokum: An anthology of African American Humore (starts with Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman" and the perspective is skewed and skewered from there)
Dream State: A History of Florida (thought I would write a novel based there. Could still happen).
Me, Myself and Why?: A mystery novel with a detective who has multiple personality disorder in a serious way. - MaryJanice Dickenson
The ENTIRE Sookie Stackhouse Series (from Dead Until Dark through the most recent release Dead in the Family): Sookie's troubles make mine feel irrelevant and each character is gloriously rendered.
The Fighter's Mind by Sam Sheridan: While focused on Mixed Martial Arts, the inspiration and the systematic breakdown of how to train your mind to keep evolving, and grow stronger, is always appreciated.
Traveling Mercies: some thoughts on faith by Anne Lamott - Radio KFCK'd is a classic.
A Guide to Quality, Taste, and Style by Tim Gunn - Nothing feels as good as looking good on your own terms. Reading Tim feels good and I always rearrange my closet afterward.
Dale Carnegie's Lifetime Plan for Success - I worry a lot. Dale talks about the futility of worrying a lot and how to have better interactions with other human beings. I read it daily.
Simple Abundance by Sarah ban Breathnach - Life slows down when I open this book. I can always use a little slowdown.
Then We Set His Hair on Fire by Phil Dusenberry - The title refers to the Pepsi commercial where Michael Jackson's hair caught on fire. But the book is about Insight - how to train yourself toward seeing the universal truth in the most mundane of situations (GE "We bring good things to life" - that's Dusenberry).
Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss - a curmudgeon's hilarious look at modern grammar. I can only read a couple of pages at a time before I'm vomiting with laughter.
Everything I need to know, I learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum - Bless this man. Bless him twice.
Cleopatra: A Biography - This is dense, fun reading.
That's what I'm reading. What about you?