I’ve always been an avid reader.
When I was young (maybe 9 or 10 or so years old)…My mom kinda yelled at me: “Simone! Put the goddamn book down and go outside and play.” I think maybe I asked her if I could take the book with me. Just imagine her response.
Until my mid teens…every summer I would ride my bike to the library and take out 7 books. Get a glass of lemonade and go to the basement where there was a couch and it was cooler than outside or upstairs – and no one came downstairs to bother me. I’d read a book a day.
What was I reading for fun then? Probably lots of the same stuff I read now for fun : Romance novels but only selected romance novelists. Sci fi fantasy – but that’s new – since I was student teaching and an 8th grade student explained why sci fi was so cool. Spy, thrillers. That’s my fun time.
What else do I read now? When I’m learning and enhancing my craft and stimulating my brain? Business books. Some of my favorite authors: Business books NOT specific to the nonprofit sector/philanthropy: Seth Godin. Jim Collins. Peter Senge. Malcolm Gladwell. Chip & Dan Heath. Peter Senge. Daniel Goleman. And and and and ….
For the nonprofit sector, I think I might require all staff to read John Gardner’s monograph Building Community. I’d require all senior staff to add these two monographs: Ken Dayton’s Governance is Governance Is Governance and Jim Collins’ Good to Great and the Social Sectors.
So this blog is recommending just a few of the books that I’ve found most useful/helpful/special/important to me. I think all of these are particularly important to any senior professional in any field – including the nonprofit sector – especially the CEO and CDO. If I were a CEO or CDO today, I’d insist upon a Book Club for senior staff.
By the way, none of the books recommended below focus on the nonprofit sector, governance or fundraising. But I’ve found all of these useful, helpful, still relevant, hugely meaningful…whatever…to my decades of work in the nonprofit sector.
And here’s more reading for the top-notch professionals. The non-siloed thinkers. The lifelong learners. Those who integrate various schools of thought and fight silos and use conversation as a core business practice and read across disciplines and….
The Hidden Brain: How our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars, and Save Our Lives, Shankar Vedantam
Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, Sherry Turkle
Permission Marketing. The Icarus Deception. Seth Godin (And there are many more! I just picked those 2 for this moment.)
The Fifth Discipline, Peter Senge
Good to Great, Jim Collins
Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
The Self-Made Myth: And the Truth About How Government Helps Individiuals and Businesses Succeed. Brian Miller & Mike Lapham
You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times, Howard Zinn
Robin Hood Was Right: A Guide to Giving Your Money For Social Change, Collins, Rogers, and Garner
And these 2 books by Mike Edwards do focus on the nonprofit sector….. Small Change: Why Business Won’t Save the World and Civil Society.
If you live in the USA, have you read any of these books? And if you live in another country, how does any of this pertain to your country? These books are about society…so they certainly do apply to the nonprofit sector, too.
- Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America? Barbara Ehrenreich is the author. The book was published in 2001…a New York Times bestseller. And while those 19 years have certainly shown some changes and new stuff and and and… the overall story is pretty much the same…and even worse in some cases. Check out Ehrenreich’s “sequels”. Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream (2005). And This Land is
YourTheir Land (2008).
- And here’s another useful book The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, Joel Bakan.
Okay. I have to stop now. So many. So much.
I just get so tired of hearing so many people whining about having no time to learn more…read…visit the meaningful and learnful stuff on the Internet. Blah blah blah. If someone isn’t a lifelong learner, how can that someone be a professional?
I believe in lifelong learning – and I don’t see enough of it. I actually read a note somewhere sometime from a consultant who said… “I don’t read books anymore. I’m a consultant now. I know this stuff.” (If I could have found this person, just imagine how I might have responded!!!)
Okey dokey. Enough now.
P.S. Happy birthday and bonne anniversaire, my Tommy…