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Some Great Books from 2008

Posted by Mark Bennett on December 31, 2008

1225274637_85fac883b1_mHere are ten books that are very good and if you haven’t read them yet, you might want to check them out. The list is restricted to books published in 2008 that I read (there are several others published in 2008 that I have on my reading list). The list is somewhat in order of recommendation, although since the topics vary, you should let that be your main deciding factor.


Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies by Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li


Excellent survey of what’s been going on in Social Media, both in between companies and consumers as well as between companies and employees. It presents some good frameworks for structuring your thinking about how to best approach social media and has lots of real world examples.


Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin


This is a small, but thought-provoking book with some fresh thinking covering the well-worn topic of leadership. It focuses on how we can all be leaders and it’s whether we are willing to step up and create change, as there are people everywhere, more accessible than ever, willing to follow.


Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery (Voices That Matter) by Garr Reynolds


PZ is an inspiring book that shows how to break out of the “Death by PowerPoint” presentation mode. It’s an easy, fun read that guides you towards how to think about and structure your presentation such that your audience is engaged and retains the major points you are trying to get across.


The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures by Dan Roam


This book doesn’t just tell you how to draw pictures to get your point across; in fact isn’t really about drawing. It dives deeper into how visualization and thinking about problems visually helps you not only get your point across, but it is central to helping you understand the problem better so that you develop a better solution that in turn you can better present to your client.


Web 2.0: A Strategy Guide: Business thinking and strategies behind successful Web 2.0 implementations. by Amy Shuen


This is chock full of real-life case studies about ways companies were able to implement Web 2.0 technologies to solve particular business problems. The case studies are backed by strong analysis of business models and comparisons to other approaches.


Talent on Demand: Managing Talent in an Age of Uncertainty by Peter Cappelli


This book is an excellent overview of the general problem of Talent Management, starting with a historical perspective, before there ever was HR, and taking us through the various changes in the business landscape in terms of regulation, technology, globalization, etc., showing how those factors affected the way Talent was viewed and managed, both in terms of acquisition and retention as well as training and development, all based on the supply and demand economics of the time and industry. It then lays out four major principles to act as guides for companies to address their Talent needs.


slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations by Nancy Duarte


An excellent companion to Presentation Zen, this book is a deeper dive into the specifics of creating a presentation (color choices, layouts, graphics, etc.). Whereas PZ is more the kind of book you’d read straight through and then occasionally refer to refresh your memory about it’s way of thinking, slide:ology is more of a reference manual you would go to for help on particular design questions.


The Science of Fear: Why We Fear the Things We Shouldn’t–and Put Ourselves in Greater Danger by Daniel Gardner


Links the concepts from psychology research brought up in books like “Predictable Irrationality” (e.g. Recency Effect, Anchoring Rule, etc.) to the agendas of major institutions like business, government and media and how they use those effects to further their aims. Does a great job showing how statistics are warped and misrepresented to push the populations and markets towards actions they’d otherwise not take, mostly through fear, one of our strongest evolutionary survival traits.


The New Human Capital Strategy: Improving the Value of Your Most Important Investment–Year After Year by Bradley W. Hall


A clear, well-structured approach to the problem of figuring out which of the actions that you are taking with your workforce are actually giving you the results you are looking for. It takes a “systems thinking” view of the problem, designing a blueprint for the problem and then building the system from there.


Financial Intelligence for HR Professionals: What You Really Need to Know About the Numbers (Financial Intelligence) by Karen Berman, Joe Knight, and John Case


Despite the drab title, this book is actually quite fun to read (really!) and since HR has been told that speaking the language of business is key to being a strategic partner, this is a great way to start learning. It’s written in a friendly style that comes right out and tells the HR reader which things matter, how they matter, and which things really aren’t as crucial to know so you don’t get distracted by them. Each section is loaded with examples from recent history (especially scandals) linking HR areas of responsibility to financial problems for companies.

14 Responses to “Some Great Books from 2008”

  1. Amy Wilson said

    This is terrific – thanks for sharing! I can only imagine what your library looks like at home…

    I was actually shocked to realize that I’ve only read 1.5 books on your list. It seems more like 7 based on things I’ve learned from conversations with you, reading your blog posts, etc. The book I read in full is Presentation Zen and I do agree that it is inspirational (not to mention easy to read).

  2. Meg Bear said

    Mark you should make your tag line “reading books so you don’t have to”. Thanks again for performing such a great service. I’m very glad to see you sharing with the TalentedApps community. I’m shocked the Twilight series wasn’t included on your list 😉

  3. @Meg Re: Twilight – Waited for the movie. Now, if they would just have movie versions of Groundswell, New Human Capital Strategy… 😉

  4. GretchenA said

    Hmmm….how many business books could make good movies? And which one would could give Mark a starring role?

  5. Row Henson said

    You are amazing – when do you have time to sleep??

  6. Debra Garcia said

    Thanks for your recommendations. There have been so many great books published and not enough time to read them all. I just read Dan Tapscott’s latest “Wikinomics”. Some interesting new ideas and case studies/exmaples. Some redundancy of early books, but worth the read.

  7. Amy Wilson said

    I’m off to a good start in 2009 … just finished Outliers today. It was fabulous and fascinating. I highly recommend it!

  8. David Kottcamp said


    I’d add one more book to your list: The Halo Effect: … and the Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers by Phil Rosenzweig

    It made me reconsider many books I’d previoulsy read, and thought were great.


  9. David,

    Yes, thanks for that recommendation! Congitive, confimation and survivor biases are very common amongst business books. It would be great if more writers could do the more difficult research into companies that failed even when they tried the same things as companies that succeeded, and see how that affects our conclusions.


  10. Amy,

    Outliers is on my list to read – I’ve heard very good things about it. Thanks for that recommendation!


  11. Debra,

    “Wikinomics” (now in its 2nd edition) is a terrific book. It’s a very good survey of the various ways Web 2.0 can impact business. Thanks for your recommendation!


  12. […] at TalentedApps are bestowed with our own personal book reader and recommender. I recently utilized Mark’s services again when he recommended Back of the Napkin by Dan Roam. Back of the Napkin is the latest in my […]

  13. […] got around to reading Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely – a behavioral economics book that Mark and Ken have been recommending for awhile.  Dan’s book shows via extensive experimentation that […]

  14. […] by Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler. Charlene and Josh collaborated on Groundswell, one of the best books from 2008. So far, both books are […]

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