I read. If you are my client or are thinking about becoming a client, chances are, you do too, although you may not get as much time to read outside of your field. Here are a few of the books that have been most helpful to me.

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Categories: Creativity, Productivity, Academia, Writing <> Creativity, Business

Books about being creative, and producing work

Art and Fear Art and Fear is the book I toss in my carry-on every time I fly (about once a year). It’s small, it reads easily, and it will always point out something about the work of producing art month after month that I had forgotten. I suspect that the information applies as much to any creative endeavor. Currently, the discussion about working in a series is fueling an enormous shift in my design; I committed to make 100 rugs and observed shifts in style and quality at +-30 and now again at +-60 rugs completed. I never would have seen this development if I had stopped after the first five or six works.

Books about being productive

GTD David Allen spawned a new industry in personal productivity support, promoting a bottom-up model rather than the visions-and-values top-down approach used by some other teachers. In addition, his method addresses email as a central element and challenge of being productive, rather than an also-ran distraction. He has his detractors, and many people will develop their own tweaks and adjustments to any program loosely based on the GDT methodology. That said, this is the primary source, and it’s well worth the time it takes to read.

Books about succeeding in academic management (deans and department chairs)

College Admin Tools and skills for people new to people-management responsibilities they haven’t studied or been trained for. Written for new deans and department chairs, the guidance applies just as well to new faculty.
To Rise Above Principle, Josef Martin Memoirs of an unreconstructed dean. Originally published under a pseudonym and now out of print, this book covers much the same material as the Survival Guide, with more jokes and some historical political incorrectness. A brief time after publication, the author revealed himself to be Henry Bauer, of Henry Bauer, of VPI. You can read a copy of the book, and his updated opinions, at the website.
The PhD comic strip Given 800,000 unique visitors a month, you probably already subscribe.  If you don’t, take the time to chuckle three times a week!

Books about writing

On Writing The only book by Stephen King I have ever read, this work talks about generating content, which he does with a passion. The first part of the book is biography; the second, experience and advice, as much as anyone can tell anyone else how to create.

Books about being in business

The Republic of Tea was written in a brief window just before Starbucks and email took over their respective parts of the world. The letters were typed and faxed between the authors. People who wrote before email may recognize that this book would not have been created even five years later, when written communication happened so much faster. Modern internet (wannabe) millionaires may not have the patience for the long start up time where nothing tangible “happens,” but reading the Republic of Tea carried me through a number of long dark nights when it appeared that Red Tuxedo was making no progress at all.
If you understand that the #1 cause of business failure is that the founders quit working on their business (Joel Sposky or Bob Walsh; can’t find attribution in the amount of time I’m willing to give it), reading the Republic of Tea just might keep you in the game a little longer.
It’s out of print and may take a while to find in the used book universe. Keep trying.