What’s on your bookshelf?

This afternoon, Judy Unrein, Mike Taylor and myself had a brief exchange about a book we agreed was one of those required reading titles for our craft.

This spawned an idea that it could be really cool to have a blog-round where folks talk a bit about what books and references they carry on their virtual or physical bookshelf (What’s on your Kindle?). I love this idea. Seems like a great way to share useful resources and provide a way for folks to engage and get to know one another. What you read can reveal some pretty deep things about who you are. It’s a data point.

It’s hard to narrow down to five books that I would recommend to others. There are so many great references. These are what I have at my fingertips at the moment.

5 from my digital bookshelf

  • Marketing Metaphoria
    I picked up Marketing Metaphoria a few months ago but decided to make it my read on a flight to Arizona. I’d love to do an in-depth review of this one. I enjoyed this insightful exploration of seven deep metaphors common across most contexts the authors studied in consumer research. These metaphors are balance, transformation, container, connection, resource, journey, and control. I think these are brilliant conceptual touch points with many potential interceptions with design practice.
  • The Checklist Manifesto
    Learning development folks need to have this perspective in their personal design toolbox. This one is filled with examples and stories that express just how great a simple checklist can be when it’s your job to support excellent and accurate performance.
  • 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People
    This is the book Judy, Mike and I discussed earlier. While I think some of the book feels a little bit pop-psy, there’s enough validity and value here to make it a must have reference for design craft types.
  • Thoughts on Interaction Design
    I can’t find the Kindle Edition for this one on Amazon at the moment, unfortunately. Too often in our field, it seems like interaction (“interactivity”) is reduced to wrist flicks and mouse clicks. The definition and recommendations provided by Jon Kolko are pure gold. As he says, “Interaction Design is the creation of a dialog between a person and a product, service, or system. This dialog is usually nearly invisible and found in the minutiae of daily life.”
  • The Man Who Lied to His Laptop: What Machines Teach Us About Human Relationships
    Now this is a fun read. The book consists of brief vignettes that illustrate research contexts and  associated results and implications. These experiments explore how humans perceive interactions with computers. There are some really great insights here for constructing feedback, calls to action, and other cues.

I use the Kindle App for my old iPad version 1 to carry my small library of digital tomes but I have some paper stuff within reach as well. Each of the books below have either direct or tangential relation to the performance solution design craft (or any design craft for that matter). Some are references I might regularly reach for to help me make a connection with something I’m trying to express. Some are reads I’m merely partway through.

As a passionate practitioner striving to gain better perspective, most (nay, all) of the books in my library have some strong association with design or problem solving of some type. It’s a little sick. But <shrugs>, no excuses, I live and breath this stuff.

What else can be found on my digital bookshelf?

So many great books, so little time. I grab a moment here and there to glean gems of inspiration or answers from these. I buy more books than I read but all of them have been useful as reference:

  • Storytelling for User Experience by Whitney Quesenbery & Kevin Brooks
  • Designing with the Mind in Mind by Jeff Johnson
  • Rapid Viz by Kurt Hanks
  • How to Do Things with Videogames by Ian Bogost
  • Visual Thinking for Design by Colin Ware
  • Slide:ology by Nancy Duarte
  • About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design by Cooper, Reimann, and Cronin
  • The Architecture of Learning by Kevin Washburn
  • A Theory of Fun for Game Design by Raph Koster
  • Trizics by Gordon Cameron
  • Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior by Indi Young
  • Fascinate by Sally Hogshead
  • Gamestorming by Gray, Brown, and Macanufo
  • The Human Machine by Bennet, Arnold
  • Confession of a Public Speaker by Scott Berkun
  • Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
  • The Big Book of Concepts by Gregory Murphy
  • Seductive Interaction Design by Stephen Anderson
  • Brain Rules by John Medina
  • The Pragmatic Programmer by Hunt and Thomas
  • JavaScript: The Good Parts by Douglas Crockford
  • Design for How People Learn by Julie Dirksen
  • Task Analysis Methods for Instructional Design by Jonassen, Tessmer, and Hannum
  • A Project Guide to UX Design by Unger and Chandler
  • Graphics for Learning by Clark and Lyons
  • Challenges for Game Designers by Brathwaite and Schreiber
  • Sin and Syntax by Constance Hale

Honorable mentions from my physical library

There are three physical books I’m buzzing about at the moment and a few others that I think are a must have for ID / OD and organizational problem solving folks.

  • Acts of Meaning by Jerome Bruner << This is my current leisure read.
  • The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses by Jesse Schell << Using as a reference to develop some consultation lenses
  • Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative by Will Eisner << Love the concepts conveyed by this master of visual storytelling. Classic.
  • Human Competence by Tom Gilbert << If you’re into solving work problems and don’t have a frame for systems thinking, pick this one up. Heck, pick it up anyway.
  • What Every Manager Should Know About Training by Robert Mager << I used to keep a few of these to loan out. It’s a brief enough read and potential time saver with stakeholders that don’t get the training business.

Like most folks, I have a whole heap of books on my desk, on my shelves and on the floor. All are useful for some purpose. What’s on your digital and physical bookshelf? What are your recent favorites? How are they useful to you?

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10 thoughts on “What’s on your bookshelf?”

  1. Wow, thanks for giving me column ideas for the next 2 years! 🙂

    Just started reading Marketing Metaphora, actually… really, really great. Thanks for starting this!

  2. Thanks, Judy! This was a fun exercise. One of the things I’d like to see develop is a node connection service. Visualizing the connections and value of “concepts” from books and research in a clear and followable path seems like it could have value.

    You know when you find something uber valuable in a book, how you’re making a connection with something else? Wouldn’t it be cool to map those connections together in a meaningful way? I think so.

  3. Wow. Steve.
    Thank you for the list of must-read books. Looking forward to read your useful posts. I love Jerome Bruner’s writing style. Very conversational and warm…I am very interested in reading something related to a script writing and storytelling for an elearning course. Any suggestion?

  4. I’m working on my own list. You know what I find challenging–many of the core texts in Performance Technology are still at textbook level prices! Or like Gilbert’s work and haven’t or won’t make the jump to the electronic format.

    It makes things pretty challenging when you want to build a robust library and history. I’m pro-Kindle too–especially now the app displays in full pages! (what an advent)–and I like having references in my backpack.

    Hopefully our community takes its own methodology to heart and expands what’s available.

    1. I hear ya. Unfortunately most of the core works of HPT are older editions. It’s too bad Rummler and Gilbert aren’t around anymore.

      You can’t grab them offline, but there are plenty of HPT tomes available on Books24x7 using the CG Skillport account. Some Mager, Rummler, and Gilbert including Human Competence are available through online access.

      1. Yeah–I wish they were Kindle or GoodReader friendly though.

        I still believe whoever can make this stuff accessible to the masses will have a huge advantage. It’s probably a little crazy to envision the “Chris Brogan” of Performance Consulting–but I think it’s out there.

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