My 2016 Reading List

I typically don’t make New Year’s resolutions. However, I made a pledge to myself on Jan. 1 last year to read more marketing and business books.

I’ve consistently read for pleasure since graduating from undergrad, but I had never turned that inclination toward professional reading.

2016 would be different though, I decided, and it actually turned out to be. I ended up reading roughly 2 or 3 new marketing and business books per month over the course of the year. And the return was fantastic.

Reading about, understanding, and applying the new perspectives and ideas from the leading experts in the space was exceedingly rewarding. Over the past year, I grew professionally more than I had ever before.

I didn’t think to look back and take stock of what I read over 2016 until I saw Dave Gerhardt’s recent article doing just that, which as you will see, heavily influenced this post. Dave is the Director of Marketing over at Drift, a messaging software company — both do great work, so I recommend checking out both Dave’s and Drift’s content when you have a chance.

Now, a bit on my process for tackling all of the books listed.

I committed to reading during the dead time I would normally fill with meaningless activities, such as commuting, traveling, and the 20-30 minutes before bed.

I also found it extremely beneficial to supplement reading books with listening to marketing podcasts in other dead times like showering and at the gym, along with checking the current marketing and advertising blogs and news when I needed to take a break from the books.

Furthermore, If I could get the overall gist of a book right away or wasn’t feeling compelled in the first couple of chapters, I stopped reading instead of trying to plow through something I wouldn’t get much out of.

I also kept a running list of book recommendations and suggested titles saved in my Amazon cart for when I needed to order more or top off an order to qualify for free shipping.

And lastly, many books follow the same pattern of establishing an idea and then supporting it with real world examples, the latter of which can often times be skimmed (or skipped all together) if you’re trying to get through a book quickly or already have a good understanding of the concept at hand.

Here’s the recap of what I read and was influenced by in 2016 with a quick 1-5 scale — 1 meaning that I didn’t enjoy the book at all and 5 meaning it was one of the best marketing books I’ve read (again, thanks, Dave, for this idea).

January

Contagious: Why Things Catch On – Jonah Berger (2)

Guerilla Marketing: Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business – Jay Conrad Levinson (1)

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference – Malcolm Gladwell (5)

February

Purple Cow, New Edition: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable – Seth Godin (2)

Rework: Change The Way You Work Forever – Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson (4)

Ask: The Counterintuitive Online Method to Discover Exactly What Your Customers Want to Buy...Create a Mass of Raving Fans...and Take Any Business to the Next Level – Ryan Levesque (1)

March

Maximize Your Social: A One-Stop Guide to Building a Social Media Strategy for Marketing and Business Success – Neal Schaffer (1)

Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content – Ann Handley (4)

Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses – Joe Pulizzi (4)

April

How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie (3)

The Art of Social Media – Guy Kawasaki & Peg Fitzpatrick (2)

Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising – Ryan Holiday (3)

May

Meaningful: The Story of Ideas That Fly – Bernadette Jiwa (4)

Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble – Dan Lyons (2)

Hacking Marketing: Agile Practices to Make Marketing Smarter, Faster, and More Innovative – Scott Brinker (5)

June

Influence: Science and Practice – Robert Cialdini (3)

The Content Formula: Calculate the ROI of Content Marketing & Never Waste Money Again – Michael Brenner & Liz Bedor (4)

Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth – Gabriel Weinberg & Justin Mares (5)

July

Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing – Robert Rose & Carla Johnson (3)

Inbound Marketing, Revised and Updated: Attract, Engage, and Delight Customers Online – Brian Halligan & Dharmesh Shah (3)

Confessions of an Advertising Man – David Ogilvy (5)

August

The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses – Eric Reis (5)

Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is About Help Not Hype – Jay Baer (3)

Welcome to the Funnel: Proven Tactics to Turn Your Social Media and Content Marketing up to 11 – Jason Miller (3)

September

Small Data: The Tiny Clues That Uncover Huge Trends – Martin Lindstrom (4)

Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small – Nick Westergaard (4)

October

Scaling Lean: Mastering the Key Metrics for Startup Growth – Ash Maurya (4)

Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator – Ryan Holiday (2)

All Marketers Are Liars: The Underground Classic That Explains How Marketing Really Works--and Why Authenticity Is the Best Marketing of All – Seth Godin (2)

November

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us – Daniel Pink (4)

Steal the Show: From Speeches to Job Interviews to Deal-Closing Pitches, How to Guarantee a Standing Ovation for All the Performances in Your Life – Michael Port (2)

December

Marketing 4.0: Moving from Traditional to Digital – Philip Kotler, Hermawan Kartajaya, & Iwan Setiawan (3)

Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success – Shane Sow (2)

With so much benefit gained in 2016, I’m looking to keep this commitment going in ’17. 

Thank you

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