The Beauty of Business Books

Mitch JoelPosted by

There’s something to be said about reading a good book.

I’m a sucker for a good book. There are few pleasures that I enjoy more in life than reading (insert all of the nerd jokes that you like). The truth is that reading came to me much later in life. I was dragged through primary and secondary school kicking and screaming. In particular, I hated to read. How much did I hate to read, you may be asking? Here’s one for you: during elementary school, we were asked to do a book report (did I mention that I hated to read?). I did a book review for Superman III – The Movie. The movie? Yes (and, yes, the one with Richard Pryor in it!). I bought the adapted book version of the movie, watched the movie and wrote my “book review” about the “book.” Lame? I might argue that it was pure evil genius. My marks? They might argue that it was lame. 

How I turned the corner on reading.

I got a job. A good job. It was post Internet collapse, and two prominent Montreal entrepreneurs were building a mobile content platform (long before smartphones). During my interview with Andy Nulman (one of the founders), he passed me a copy of the Tom Peters classic, The Project50 (Reinventing Work). I thanked Andy politely, but remembered thinking that I had promised myself I would never read another book again once I had left school. Like I said, I didn’t love books. Out of respect, I cracked the cover open and found myself completely immersed in the content. It was punchy, quick, funny, smart, practical… the opposite of everything I thought I knew about non-fiction and business books. To me, non-fiction and business books were the same as dry text books. Why would anybody read these unless they were forced to at gunpoint? I devoured The Project50, and brought it back to Andy the next day. I told him about my past reading discretions and he opened up his amazing book collection to me. It didn’t take long before I was off and building my own. It didn’t take long until I found myself unable to walk past a bookstore, garage sale, used book fair and the like without going in for a browse (and a purchase). I was hooked. More importantly, I was so very wrong about my perceptions about reading and learning. I know we will never have enough time to read all of the great books that we would like to, but I do mourn the years that I wasted when I believed that reading and books were a total waste of time. How stupid. How silly.

Business books are a thing of beauty.

It’s easy to appreciate a great piece of classic literature or an amazing tale of science fiction. Business books definitely don’t get the respect and appreciation that other forms of non-fiction (and fiction) get. That always frustrated me. It still does. Business books (when done well) are a thing of beauty. If you have been following along, you know this. I’ve been recording a weekly podcast, Six Pixels of Separation, for over 14 years (close to 650 episodes) and the bulk of the episodes are centred around a business book that someone has written. In a world of tweets, blog posts, online articles and short YouTube clips, the time you can spend with a business book is something sacred. I love it so much. I want you to love it as much as I do.

The best of the best in non-fiction.

I can’t tell you how excited I was when my good friend, Ron Tite, founder of the marketing agency, Church + State, reached out to me about a project he was working on. His company teamed up with the The National Business Book Award in Canada to create a podcast series exploring each of their 2018 nominated books. This series is a deep dive with each author, discussing why they felt it was the right time to write their book, and what it tells us about the world we’re living in right now. I was ecstatic to be the host for this series.

The nominees for the 2018 National Business Book Award were:

The 2018 winner of the National Business Book Award in Canada was: The Patch – The People, Pipelines, and Politics of the Oil Sands by Chris Turner.

Feel free to take a listen to podcast series right here: NBBA – Curating the Business Conversation.

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