American Icon by Bryce G Hoffman
In the 2000s, the Big Three car companies were on the verge of bankruptcy. After years of complacency and mismanagement, Chrysler, GM, and especially the First Car Company itself — Ford — were about to plunge into the abyss.
Until the Ford family convinced Alan Mulally to come save their butts, that is. Mulally was the proverbial iron fist in a velvet glove, a friendly genius who had helped Boeing recover after the 9/11 tragedy.
Written by an automobile journalist with a front-row seat to the entire fascinating story, American Icon tells the story of how Mulally helped save Ford. Even if you’re not necessarily a car person, American Icon will teach you about business, unions, negotiation, management, and all those important business/economics things you never learned in school.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Shaffer & Barrows
An epistolary novel with an unusually long name, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a snarky, poignant story told entirely through letters (that’s what “epistolary” means, after all!) about a young writer in post-WWII England traveling to a tiny island to meet a motley crew of quirky characters who tell her their stories and in turn help her create a new story of her own.
Although this was a popular book several years ago (there’s also a movie based on the book!), I didn’t get around to reading it until now. And now I can see why it was popular. The story is fun, the characters’ voices distinct, and the conceit of using letters to reveal plot points is clever. If you’re interested in writing fiction, particularly epistolary fiction, this would be a great book to study 🙂
Ask by Ryan Levesque
If you’ve ever wondered what your clients/customers are thinking, Ask by Ryan Levesque might be just the book for you.
Ask is written in two parts. The first part is an autobiography, in which Levesque tells his own harrowing story about how he got into entrepreneurship (involving learning a foreign language in 8 weeks, then getting into Etsy, etc, etc)
The second part gets into Levesque’s nuts and bolts of actually creating surveys and analyzing results in order to better segment your email list and personalize the way you serve your audience.
A quick warning: the technical aspects of Levesque’s system might be a bit too complex for a tech-challenged beginning solopreneur, however the personal story is inspiring, and you can still glean some principles of survey setup from this book!
Super Thinking by Weinberg & McCann
Ever wondered how to be smarter? Or at least think more clearly? Super Thinking by Weinberg & McCann is, as the subtitle states, a “big book of mental models” that can help you do just that.
What are mental models? It’s basically a map of how you see the world. Everyone has multiple mental models, and depending on your life experiences and education, you will be more familiar and likely to use certain models over others.
But when you’re facing a particularly gnarly problem that you can’t solve, the reason often is because you’re using an ineffective mental model. That’s when you can pick up this book and see if any of the other maps and angles they offer might be of use.
Tapping into different disciplines from physics to economics to chemistry and more, this book gives an overview of hundreds of mental models to choose from. Of course, it’s up to you to dig deeper and study the models if you want, but think of this as a reference book to point you in the right direction.
Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins
Written by one of the masters of copywriting, Claude Hopkin’s Scientific Advertising is an easy read full of powerful writing tips that will help you as a writer even if you’re not interested in copywriting, per se.
Written by a master writer for people who are interested in becoming master writers, Scientific Advertising lays out the unchanging fundamental principles of the craft in a straightforward, no-nonsense book that, if taken to heart, will elevate your writing tremendously.
If you haven’t read this book yet, go buy it and read it now.
And that’s the book list for May~
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