I love to read but have to work hard to find the time.  Vacations and airplanes are the typical soft areas of my life where I seem to find the least amount of friction.  Business-oriented books take second place to non-fiction stuff.  (Don’t we get enough of this in our daily lives already?)

Something changed for me over the last few months that has freed up some serious brain time – we moved from a typical family home (multiple bedrooms, land to manage, etc.) to an apartment as part of a downsizing move.  Gone are those pesky maintenance hours on weekends as well as a modest commute (1/2 hour each way).  When you add it all up, I freed up an average of 1-2 ours per day.

Insert more reading.  Yea!

I generally have mixed emotions with regards to business books.  I think most could have gotten their point across in 1/2 of the number of pages.  But publishers sell pages and there are a minimum number of pages required.  I would also add that my true desire in reading a business book is to remind me of one or two nuggets that apply to my current situation.  It is why west coast airplane rides are perfect – they are enough time for me to skim through and find those nuggets.

Over the past few weeks I have discovered two books that continue to resonate with me and that I recommend digging deep on:  Ben Horowitz’s – The Hard Thing About Hard Things and Jonah Berger’s – Contagious.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things takes the very personal anecdotes from Ben’s experiences in 3-4 tech companies and blends them into a very useful narrative about a handful of the most pressing CEO issues.  From hiring to firing to culture to dealing with your board of directors – this is truly a must read.

Contagious is written in the Malcolm Gladwell behavioral psychology theme.  Instead of wondering how things “go viral”, Jonah spends time discussing why we talk about certain topics.  Word-of-mouth is a powerful marketing phenomena if you can get it.  Contagious outlines the steps (all puns intended – read it) necessary to align your marketing initiatives with his research.