Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Six Books To Inform and Entertain You

Despite the advent of texting, six-second videos and 500-word blogs, people still read the old-fashioned book with pages made of paper.  It must be the feel of holding a novel in your hands and turning pages that has kept the book popular in its traditional form.

There are tens of thousands of books out there and any visit to a library or bookstore will yield a wealth of wonderful entertainment and useful information.

Here are some personal recommendations.

1) How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

This book was written in 1936 and its fundamental principles are still very relevant today.  These principles are based on positive ways of dealing with people and winning them over to your side.

One example deals with conversation.  Do you prefer to talk or to listen?  If you prefer to listen, you will learn new things from the other person plus they will be impressed by the fact that you listened to them instead of droning on about yourself.

Dale Carnegie's book is very easy to read and it's full of very useful advice that's simple to put into action.  Here's a summary of six ways to make people like you.

  1. Become genuinely interested in other people.
  2. Smile.
  3. Remember that a person's name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  5. Talk in terms of the other person's interest.
  6. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

2) How Google Works by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg

Google is one of the largest companies in the world with over 50,000 employees and a market valuation of over $360 billion.  The authors provide a very entertaining primer on how to operate a huge organization in the rapidly evolving field of technology and online commerce where the time-frame for success can no longer be measured in years.

The customer is the boss and products must be cutting-edge while having the broadest appeal possible (with the knowledge that it may be obsolete much sooner than later).  Having employees who are 'smart creative' is essential but Google has to allow them to thrive, work hard, have fun and be constantly innovative and creative.  How is this done?  'How Google Works' provides many fascinating insights!

3) Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World by Margaret MacMillan

It's been just over 100 years since the start of World War I but the world is still dealing with the ramifications of the post-war peace talks in Paris.  The heads of state of Britain, France, Italy and the United States tried to forge a peace while dealing with petitions from delegates who came from all over the globe.

When we read about all of the issues facing our present-day world, from Asia to Europe to the Middle East to Africa, they can be traced to the decisions made in Paris during those six months.  It drives home the point that wars can be won but winning the peace can sometimes be more difficult.  Many of today's international headlines can be traced to the decisions made in the capital of France after the 'War To End All Wars'.

4) Around the World in 80 Days by Michael Palin

Michael Palin was best-known for his comedic work with Monty Python before he accepted a challenge to travel around the world in 80 days.  The stipulation was that he could only use the same overland methods as in the age of Jules Verne's book, published in 1873.  No airplanes!

His trip,is a great travelogue as he journeys from London, England through Europe, Egypt, Asia and then the Pacific Ocean followed by North America and the Atlantic.  No flying is involved and this brings home the fact that it's often the journey itself that's the fun part, not the destination.

Michael Palin's sense of humor and keen observations make this a wonderful read and a great incentive to plan a trip yourself.  You can also read his other travel books such as 'Pole to Pole' (describing his overland trip from the North Pole to the South Pole via Europe and Africa) or 'Full Circle' (his journey visiting all countries around the rim the Pacific Ocean).

5) Madrigal's Magic Key To Spanish by Margarita Madrigal

I wrote a blog on how learning other languages is a very fun and valuable activity.  Spanish is a language spoken by more than 400 million people in Spain as well as many countries in Central and South America and many areas in the United States.

There are many books and videos which teach Spanish but a great one for beginners is Madrigal's Magic Key to Spanish.  It shows how closely related Spanish and English are related and how many words you can learn instantly due to this relationship.   For example, words ending in '-or', '-ble' and '-ion' are virtually identical in English and Spanish.  After a few days of reading this book, you will have a large vocabulary and a very good grasp of everyday grammar.

6) Looptail by Bruce Poon Tip

How do you start an adventure travel company using your credit cards and trying to compete with the huge bus tour companies?  Bruce Poon Tip's account of building G Adventures from scratch to a company serving 100,000 customers a year in 100 countries is very inspiring.  It also gives a very insightful first-hand account on how to operate and grow a company while keeping customers happy, employees engaged, competitors at bay and staying socially responsible.

You can read my review of the book at Looptail Review.  Bruce Poon Tip has written a second inspirational book called 'Do Big Small Things'.  You can learn more about it at the official site

The picture is Bruce and myself (along with his wife) in Ecuador.

There are many other books which I can recommend but these six are a good place to start if you are looking for some new reading reading material.

Stay true to the written word and read!

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