My 2010 Reading Challenge: 26 Books

ReadingAs my life has gotten busier and busier over the last few years, my reading has suffered as I increasingly found myself prioritizing other things over it.

On New Year’s Eve, I read an inspiring post by Julien Smith where he describes how he manages to read a book every week. Essentially, in the same manner in which all big tasks are accomplished, he broke it down to 40 pages per day.

Given that I already struggle to find enough time in the day, I think 40 pages per day may be unfeasible. However, I’m inspired enough by Julien’s post to set a challenge for myself publicly for 2010:

I will read one book every two weeks throughout the whole year.

That means 26 books throughout the year.

Right now I’m working my way through John Harmon’s Feeding Frenzy – a first-hand account of the crisis communications surrounding the Ford/Firestone crisis in 2000 (which, so far, is excellent).

Up next on my list (Amazon affiliate links):

That leaves 21 other books to read this year.

What would you suggest I add to the list?

(Image:kwerfeldein on Flickr)

35 Responses toMy 2010 Reading Challenge: 26 Books

  • Props. I have absolutely no idea how you can pull this off.

    I know that I make it through 5-10 a year, I’m ecstatic.

    • Stay away from Twitter, Stuart, and you will find time magically appear to read books. That’s how I read Dan Brown’s “The Lost Symbol” inside of four days. Great page-turner, Dave!

      To the bigger point, Dave, why do you schedule books to read? I can’t operate like that. If I want to read something, I read it.

  • Hi Dave,

    If you haven’t read it yet, I recommend Malcolm Gladwell’s “What the Dog Saw and other adventures”. It’s a collection of his favorite pieces that he wrote for the The New Yorker; it’s very entertaining.

    • I always enjoy Gladwell’s books; I haven’t read that one yet so I’ll check it out.

  • I read a ton, but I don’t read too many business books. I like balancing all the blog reading and news I take in online by curling up with a good novel or an interesting pop-psychology book. Some of my favorites from last year or so:

    Eric Weiner’s “The Geography of Bliss”
    Yann Martel’s “Life of Pi”
    Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road”
    Dan Ariely’s “Predictably Irrational”

    I also use to keep track of what I’ve read, find out what my friends are reading, tag books I want to read, and rate/review books. GoodReads integrates with Facebook and Twitter, too, and I’ve discovered several new books through that site.


    • Thanks for the pointer Amy! I’ll check out GoodReads, and Dan Ariely’s book comes highly recommended for sure.

  • Hey Dave,

    I’ve set a similar challenge this year except I am trying to read a book a week but I think your goal is more realistic.

    My recommendation: Every 4th book read something out of your traditional reading list which probably consists of PR, Marketing, and Business books. Read something that will get your mind thinking differently. I think it is very important to explore new ideas outside the realm of business.

    I would also recommend reading biographies and scientific books but those are my interest. Who did you want to be when you were younger? A rockstar? If so, find a book on your favourite band. You will be surprised how much more creativity you will bring to your business.

    Alex “Don’t Get Stuck” Ikonn

    • Great idea, Alex. I’ve tried to split it 1:1 in the past but I think 3:1 as you suggest sounds like a good plan.

  • Hi Dave,

    I have two suggestions:

    Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Really Motivates Us- Daniel H. Pink– Awesome!


    The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage – Roger L. Martin

    Good Luck!

    • Thanks Matt. Those both sound like interesting reads. I’ve heard good things about Daniel Pink’s books.

  • I have SO many marketing and social media-related books to read which are really super interesting. However, then I go and buy something like another Chuck Klosterman book and put everything down for it. Does that count? Haha.

    Because of my ~40 minute commute to and from work everyday, I do a lot of reading. A book a week is probably not unreasonable for me, but I’ve never struggled with reading, so I don’t see much of a point setting such a goal for myself.

    I want to read How to Create a Living, Breathing Corporation — Chief Culture Officer by Grant McCracken. Didn’t hear much about this before seeing it in Chapters, but I think it’s probably worthy of my time ; )

    I’m counting on you to tell me what to read this year, Dave! Haha.

    • Thanks Rayanne! With you and Warren both recommending Chief Culture Officer, I’ll be sure to take a look.

  • Dave, great idea to crowdsource your reading list. Here are a few books that I’ve recently read and enjoyed:

    Currently reading, Chief Culture Officer by Grant McCracken

    Recently enjoyed: Baked In, Creating Products and Businesses that Market Themselves by Alex Botulsky and John Winsor
    Connected: The surprising power of our social networks and how they shape our lives by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler

    I think I might read many of the other recommended titles, too.


    • Thanks Warren! Julien recommended Connected to me too, so I’ll have to check that out. Rayanne and you both mentioned Chief Culture Officer too, so that sounds like another addition.

  • This is not a business book, but it is a book that all working people should read, one of my favorite books ever: American Mania, by Peter Whybrow.

  • I read about a book a week too but only about one business week per quarter. I find Goodreads a good place to build up my queue and post reviews to share on Facebook. I REALLY enjoyed The Rise and Fall of PR — but that was at least a couple of years ago. I’m not sure you would find it as relevant today (unless it is a new edition.)

  • Dave, I had exactly the same idea this year. Last year, my goal was to do 50 in a year and, let me tell you, I didn’t even get to half that number. However, I think one book every two weeks is a feasible goal and I’m looking forward to expanding my literary horizons as I go through the year, as well.

    What’s on your list? Right now on my list are the Temperance Brennan series by Kathy Reichs, Neil Gaiman, some classic literature I never was forced to read in school, and more non-fiction about design, typography, art, and history.

  • This post got me thinking about my personal reading goal, and after breaking it down by pages per day I think I can come up with a realistic reading goal for 2010. Thanks for the extra push.

  • Convergence Culture by Henry Jenkins — not a quick read, but it puts marketing/PR into the bigger picture of media more generally and gave me some great perspective on how I think about and teach about PR/SM.

  • Anita Lobo
    ago11 years

    Hi Dave,

    If you’d really like to read 26 books, I’d suggest reading one business related book and 3 which are not about marketing/ PR/ social media/ digital etc

    I bring variety into my reading & discover new ways of ‘seeing’ by:
    – Going back in time and reading an ancient classic
    – A pioneer’s autobiography [not a businessman – a musician/ sportsperson]
    – Science-based narrative
    – A modern classic that was not written in English & works within a different cultural context [and translated into English]
    – And finally picking a topic that we usually ignore – to recognise our blind spot

    I chose to share ‘how’ to make the choice, rather than listing books – because its useful to choose what you’re going to spend precious time reading, everyday in 2010.

    Anita Lobo

    PS – Reading 30 pages everyday before sleeping is how I do it!

  • Try “The Art of Racing in the Rain”, “The Age of the Unthinkable” and Tom Watson Sr. new Bio. And I am going to pick up “Chief Culture Officer” Sue Marks

  • Dave, you weren’t the only one similarly inspired and overwhelmed by Julien’s book-a-week challenge! I’ve set my goal at 24 books for 2009 — two a month. In previous years I’ve found keeping a running tally, either on a site like GoodReads or just in an Excel/Word document really helped to motivate me to reach my goal. This year I’m starting off with White Tiger. Happy reading!

  • I’m a bookworm myself but I find it hard to read one book in two weeks. Though I manage it once, it took a great deal of my time. I suggest you include into your list the following great books:

    Thick Face Black Heart
    Man’s Search for Meaning
    The Road Less Traveled
    The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari
    Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
    Stumbling on Happiness
    A Rich Man’s Secret
    Simple Words


  • If you want to borrow any of these let me know. I read a lot of books every year already and these are definitely ones I would recommend for the sake of learning.

    Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath
    The Butterfuly Hunter by Chris Ballard
    Giving by Bill Clinton
    The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People by Stephen R. Covey
    What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith
    Break from the Pack by Oren Harari
    Less is More by Jason Jennings
    The Invention of Air by Steve Johnson
    The Ten Faces of Innovation by Tom Kelley
    The StarBucks Experience by Joseph A. Michellie
    Love is the Killer App by Tim Sanders
    Maverick by Ricarrdo Semler
    Make the Impossible Possible by Bill Strictland

  • Oh I also second the poster who recommended DRiVE by Daniel Pink – awesome book and reviewed it on my site:

  • HI, Dave;I am late to the game but Happy New Year! You can do it – I’m on book #5. Anyone who cares about their place in the world should read Glimmer. It has changed my approach to my career, lifestyle and the world
    The Art of Happiness/Dalai Lama
    What Would Google Do?
    Massive Change/Bruce Mau
    Content Nation
    The Cluetrain Manifesto (still good after all these years)

    Sarah MacLennan

  • 26 books is a lofty goal! It wouldn’t be fun if it wasn’t a challenge though, so best of luck to you. My goal for 2010 is one book per month, so I’m trying to make it through 12 this year. One of the books I recently read was “The Whuffie Factor”, and I’d recommend it, so you should enjoy that one. Currently I’m reading “Trust Agents” ( which is another book I’d recommend based on what I’ve made it through so far, so perhaps you can add that to the list of 21 remaining books.

    • Thanks for the recommendations, Cory. I am indeed enjoying Tara’s book so far. I read Trust Agents not too long ago, which was another good one.

  • While others have the reccos, I’ll offer an efficiency tip: read in sips. Learn to read one page, one paragraph, one sentence at a time instead of carving out a block of time to read in one sitting. I try to keep a paperback tucked in my bag wherever I go now. You won’t notice how much time you spend waiting in lines until you forget to bring your book one day.

    Also: I manage two books at a time now. One is physical, and one I read through my ears on the way to and from work and while at the gym.

    Good luck!

  • Dave that’s a worthy and lofty goal. I know some people who do it by getting the audiobooks and listening to it while commuting to and from work. I like the full concentration effect of the printed page but it’s a worthy alternative.

    In terms of book recos:

    Here Comes Everybody – Clay Shirky – There’s a ton of social media books but this one is by far and away my fave because it looks at the sociological and economic underpinnings behind what’s happening.

    Buying In: The Secret Dialogue between what we buy and who we are – Rob Walker – Fascinating take on modern consumerism from the New York Times “Consumed” columnist

    Stumbling on Happiness – Daniel Gilbert – Harvard Psychologist has a very funny and very informative book describing all the academic research on happiness.

    Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics – Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner – How incentives drive almost everything

    Life of Pi – Yann Martel – Hey you need a novel here and there to break things up.

  • To really enjoy and take advantage of a book, you need to read it slowly, and enjoy it.  If you read it fast just to finish it and to say that you are a great reader, its useless i believe.

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