Even though my once large personal library has been thinned out over the last 24 months, I still have quite a few books and I still read a lot. In fact, people regularly ask me for recommendations. Because of that, I’ve been thinking about books that I’d recommend to other technical communicators.
The ones that come to mind, though, aren’t specifically related to tech comm or technology in general. But they can help you in your career and in your daily life. If nothing else, they’ll get you thinking.
The Elements of Style: Good writing is a lot like this book: simple, concise, and easy to follow. It’s considered a classic, and rightly so.
On Writing Well: Another classic. William Zinsser’s book delivers what its title promises: a lenghty, readable, and thoroug analysis of what good writing is and should be. And he does it in such a way that you don’t know you’re learning something.
The Power of Less: Forget GTD. The advice on personal productivity that Leo Babuta offers in this book is easy to implement and maintain. The key to productivity, as Babuta points out, is simplicity. No need to learn a bunch of new terms or to endlessly hack the system to make it work for you. All it takes is a little time, motivation, and persistence.
We, The Media: Dan Gillmor’s book was one of the first to extensively discuss the idea of grassroots Internet journalism which, in many ways, morphed into the whole phenomenon that’s now called crowdsourcing. Which leads us to the next book …
Crowdsourcing: If you’ve been following this trend for a while, Crowdsourcing will offer you very little new information. But Jeff Howe does a great job of explaining the hows and why and what-might-be of the power of the crowd.
SocialCorp: Social media is more than Facebook, MySpace, and the like. This book offers an interesting roadmap for not just how firms of any size can tap into the potential of social media, but also how to understand it.
The Non-Designer’s Design Book: I can think of few people who are as design-challenged as me. But Robin Williams’ (the designer, not the comedian) book is a great reference for anyone who wants to learn the basics of good design. The main message is that good design isn’t flashy or fancy. It’s simple, clean, and follows some basic rules.
Are there any books in these veins that you’d recommend? Feel free to leave a comment.