Like many of you, I'm sure, I read a lot. I read about a book a week and it's 95% non-fiction. I'm particularly stuck on reading business books, especially those focused on strategy, marketing, and innovation, as you could probably guess. I've compiled quite a reference library of all the usual bestsellers, but I get most excited when I discover a book that most marketing people have never heard about. (I did write about one such book, Footnotes, almost two years ago.)

Sometimes these books simply miss the best-seller radar screen because they didn't have the PR machine behind them, or they didn't know how to manipulate the so-called "best seller" lists (especially Amazon's) like a LOT of authors today. And occasionally I find a book that was never meant to be read as a marketing or innovation-focused tome. Those are my favorite, because I often get to steal some killer ideas, techniques, and perspectives most business people don't ever consider.

I looked through my little library yesterday and grabbed some of these great finds and would like to share them with you today. I'm betting that most of you have never heard of any of these books. But, if you're interested in getting ideas from somewhere different from where everybody else is getting, I would strongly recommend you pick out one or two (or nine) and make an investment.

BTW, I purposely kept this list to NINE, instead of TEN. I'm hoping you will share in the Comments below your own favorite and unusual finds that nobody else, including me, nows about!


51jOdm6pdFL._SL500_AA300_The Worst Hotel In The World

Believe it or not, The Hans Brinker Budget Hotel actually bills itself as the Worst Hotel in the World. It's website opens with, "The Hans Brinker Budget Hotel has been proudly disappointing travellers for forty years. Boasting levels of comfort comparable to a minimum-security prison, the Hans Brinker also offers some plumbing and an intermittently open canteen serving a wide range of dishes based on runny eggs." 

The book includes many of the operational efforts (or lack of them) made by the Brinker to live up to their title as the worst hotel in the world. Most fun for me is to study the outrageous and, yes, even sick marketing tactics used. But they're also ideas that can be stolen and restaged for normal-thinking brands.


51m+7DP1DAL._SL110_ Obvious Adams

First published in 1916, Obvious Adams is the story of a man who becomes a successful advertising/marketing executive simply by avoiding clever and cliche and sticking with the simplest message every time. It's obvious you should read this.


Screen shot 2011-02-01 at February 1, 2011 05.04.36 PM Think Twice

As someone who is intensely interested in wearing the customer's hat, this book talks about why people make decisions the way they do (both good and bad). Fascinating and well-written, I found this books' examples and suggestions to be extremely valuable for marketing purposes. I especially like the comment, "Nobody wakes up thinking, 'I am going to make bad decisions today.' "


Screen shot 2011-02-01 at February 1, 2011 05.08.50 PM The Elusive Fan

A sports marketing book, the authors of The Elusive Fan identify a new business model for organizations to attract, engage, and retain their sports fans. Recognizing the sports fan today liteally has a myriad of choices to invest his/her time, loyalty, and money on, the ideas presented here can readily translate for any business or marketplace.


Screen shot 2011-02-01 at February 1, 2011 05.15.25 PM You Are Not A Gadget

You might have a hard time seeing how this book can help marketers. Author Jaron Lanier isn't a businessman per se, known more as being the Father of Virtual Reality.

Lanier is sort of a Silicon Valley visionary, often expounding on the pros and cons surrounding the growth of the Internet (mostly cons). However, he makes for an interesting and controversial case for how markets are being impacted by the unintended consequences of the Internet's design. He delves deeply into how technology, mostly online stuff, has impacted the individual, guiding us from being ourselves to being part of the crowd (ex: Facebook, Wikipedia, and Twitter).

I will warn you, Lanier is not easy to read. Thinking in one-syllable words, like I do, understanding stuff like "The Standard Sequence of Troll Invocation," takes effort. But it was worth it.


Screen shot 2011-02-01 at February 1, 2011 05.22.26 PM Spectacle

Almost a coffee table book in size, heft, and photos, Spectacle is a collection of international events designed and produced to be, well…spectacular. From Burning Man to the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival in Manchuria to the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, you'll find great examples of how to develop awesome customer experiences. As social media has become the rage, these spectacles function in similar ways – bringing people together to share and transform.


Screen shot 2011-02-01 at February 1, 2011 05.25.28 PM Orbiting The Giant Hairball

OK, you may know about this book, but I'm still guessing most of you don't. One of my all-time favorite books on thinking creatively, Orbiting is a blast to read and learn from. The late Gordon MacKenzie teaches us how to get out of the bonds of Corporate Normalcy (the giant hairball) and expand our thinking above and beyond the rubber-stamp confines of the administrative mind-set.


Screen shot 2011-02-01 at February 1, 2011 05.35.08 PM See New Now

OK, maybe this book doesn't deserve the lable "great," and, frankly, it's not well-written. But it does include many marketing and innovation "gems," so who cares? My favorite example is how a new business owner, Estee Lauder got her perfume into Harrod's, one of London's top department stores. You''ll have to read it to find out.


Screen shot 2011-02-01 at February 1, 2011 05.38.04 PM The Way To Win

Yes, a book about American politics. Written well before the 2008 election and even before Obama was on the radar screen, the authors attempted to illustrate "trade secrets" to political victory by examining the clashes between the two most powerful families in recent politics, the Cintons and the Bushes. The authors examine their winning strategies, including meticulous research, prolific fund-raising, and identifying and playing to the candidate's strengths. This is a good road map for developing your marketing strategies.


So there you have nine books in my library. Do you have a tenth for me? If so, please fill out a Comment below! (And please, don't include books we've all heard about. Thanks.)