Stop Recommending Books

I love books. I read them; I listen to them and, currently, I’m even trying to write one. 

A great many of my books – which many you will have seen if you’ve ever been on a Zoom call with me – have been recommended to me by friends, family, and colleagues. There is so much good advice so readily available and recommendations from people I know – and who in turn know my interests and curiosity – have led me to some of the most interesting and inspiring pages. 

As a book lover, it’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming everyone around you would benefit from your latest read, or that they too would happily forego an evening in front of the TV to devour a few hundred pages. But, just like that mate you have who bangs on about his slightly weird, die-hard hobby with relentless enthusiasm whilst those around him glaze over, it’s a good idea to first ascertain whether your friends would appreciate a recommendation. 

For years I have happily recommended books to people. But the key is to read your audience (see what I did there?). 

When I recommend a book, I always do three things:

  • I determine if the person likes to read (many don’t)
  • I find out if they currently have the capacity for reading a new book
  • I make sure my recommendation is genuinely going to solve an issue they are dealing with

I sometimes do a fourth thing:

  • I follow up to see if it was helpful

This seems the polite and smart thing to do. I don’t want people buying books that just pile up and make them feel guilty because they haven’t read it. I wouldn’t want people wasting their money. And I don’t want people to fail to get the help they might be able to use in a format that is useful to them.

If you know someone loves books, then have at it. Recommend away. But check first. If they don’t have time or don’t read books, is there a better way to help them?

And since you’re here……. If you have time for a great story and you’re generally interested in how businesses grow and develop, I can highly recommend Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, the founder of Nike. It’s a fantastic year-by-year description of how he went from a big idea at college through to building a huge brand. He doesn’t pull punches and it’s a real page turner. I ‘read’ this one on audiobook.

Whether you prefer reading, listening or watching – I hope you find plenty of great content!



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