I have recently taken up reading Freakonomics, by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. It's a book which is written by someone referred to as a rogue economist but essentially it's about the use of information and data around us to understand often 'surprising' patterns defining everyday life.
Since I have just started reading Freakonomics, I would like to talk about this other book that I have read more than once over the recent past. This is Outliers by Malcom Gladwell.
Gladwell's theory about 10,000 hours of practice being a key defining factor to build a world-class talent rings very true. His examples of Bill Gates and the Beatles to set up this point make it very vivid.
However, the other theory propagated is about kids born in the 1st half of the calendar year always having an advantage over kids born in the 2nd half of the year due to the difference of around 6 months that decides how kids cope with the class and how well they do at sport because they are just that bit bigger and smarter.
Generally, I dote on self-help books and invariably read at least one of them every quarter or so. This gives me a fresh wind of ambition and energy and helps me make progress.
Over the years, I have read a lot of subject matter-specific books related to marketing and advertising. Other than that, Stories from the Wild West, P G Wodehouse, Agatha Christie, Sidney Sheldon represent some of the non-serious reading that I have done a lot of over a long period.
At times, I enjoy reading comic books like Asterix and still pick up and read Archies, Phantom, Mandrake, Spiderman and Superman.
Some other books that I enjoy include Magic of Thinking Big (David J Schwartz) - this is a really old book which talks about goal setting and the personal traits that one needs to build to meet those big goals; Rich Dad Poor Dad (Robert Kiyosaki) - this is a lovely little book on how to think about wealth creation; Life is a Pitch (Don Peppers) - this is a Don Peppers special on pitching for new business. It's a book that really taught me a lot on how to identify and win new business.
Along with these, it's fun reading Who moved my cheese (Spencer Johnson). It is like a wakeup call. You need to be on your toes to be relevant every day. You need to keep watching for changes around you and re-craft your skills and actions to make sure you are not caught napping.
The Louis L'Amour series of Westerns are books set in the wild west and are all about action adventure. Strangely, however, I learnt a few big lessons from them - a) tenacity and b) Not being scared to admit that you are scared.
Next, I would lay my hands on The Little Big Things by Tom Peters. I like the way Peters writes and I like the sound of the title. The world is moving towards the 'little big idea' way of thinking. I am looking forward to the 160 odd lessons for excellence that are in this really fat book.
Also, I love reading from Tom Peters, John Philip Jones, Don Peppers and Malcolm Gladwell.