Books communicators, PR pros are reading this summer

Some fall into the business category, while others are pleasure reads. (And yes, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ is among them.)


Wednesday marked the first official day of summer. Although for many of you sweating it out for weeks, it might not feel like spring just came to end. Either way, it only gets darker (and, eventually, colder) from here. So you better get started on those books you plan to read this summer.

We polled Ragan LinkedIn users to learn which titles they plan to bring to the beach, pool, or air-conditioned room. Fiction was the genre of choice. It came in No. 1 according to 43 percent. Nonfiction was next (19 percent), followed by entertainment (15 percent), industry-specific books (13 percent) and the classics (10 percent.)

Here are a few of their suggestions.

  • I like short story collections. I’m reading Lynn Coady’s “Play the Monster Blind.” Her novel, “The Antagonist,” was magnificent.
  • I’ve just read “Free Country, A Penniless Adventure the Length of Britain” by George Mahood. A true story about two lads that cycled from Land’s End to John o’Groats with no money, clothes, shoes, food or bikes!
  • I am trudging through “Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.”
  • “11/22/63” A great read! Not your typical Stephen King.
  • I read and really enjoyed “Who moved my cheese?”

Want even more ideas?

Last month, our sister site, PR Daily.com asked readers to name the books they plan to read this summer. It blended those books into its official list of books that readers should crack open this summer. The staff divided the list in half—five books “for business,” and five “for pleasure”—although some of them might be interchangeable. They are:

For Business

1. “Imagine: How Creativity Works,” by Jonah Lehrer

This title is the “50 Shades of Grey” of the business-related books—because of the bondage, obviously. Just kidding. “Imagine,” like “Grey,” was among the most common books cited by PR Daily readers. Released in March, the book is a study of creativity that features case studies (Pixar, Bob Dylan) and neurological research (not the boring kind). It will inspire you to, well, feel inspired.

2. “United Breaks Guitars: The power of one voice in the age of social media,” by Dave Carroll

Remember Davie Carroll? For a few weeks he was every brand’s worst nightmare—and every consumer’s hero—because he took on United and not only won, but also changed the customer service landscape.

In 2009, United baggage handlers severely damaged his $3,500 guitar. One year later, after numerous failed attempts for reimbursement, Carroll recorded a song and made a YouTube that went viral. Naturally, United perked up and worked things out with Carroll. The incident made every company aware of the power of social media.

Three years later, Carroll’s written a book on the incident and its lessons for consumers and businesses. Might want to slip this one under the door of your manager—the one who still doesn’t get social media.

Here’s the video, in case you need a refresher:



3. “Return on Influence: The Revolutionary Power of Klout, Social Scoring, and Influence Marketing,” by Mark Schaefer

Mark Schaefer has spent the last couple of years becoming an expert on online influence, which means he’s sort of an influencer on influencers. The director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions covers the waterfront on this topic, in what is currently the book marketers and PR pros should own if they want to understand how to identify influencers or maybe become one.

Watch Schaefer talks about the book on CBS “This Morning”:Mark Schaefer is an occasional Ragan.com and PR Daily contributor.

4. “Marketing in the Round: How to Develop an Integrated Marketing Campaign in the Digital Era,” by Gini Dietrich and Geoff Livingston

If you’re job involves developing and shepherding PR and marketing plans, this book by PR professional Gini Dietrich and social media jack-of-all-trades Geoff Livingston is a must. It shows the future of marketing and explains how it works. The term “marketing in the round” refers to a discipline in which all of the silos—PR, marketing, customer service—are knocked down and the bottom line of any campaign is the results. The book’s description says it’s a must-read for the people in PR and marketing who are making the decisions; we’d add that it’s also good for those striving to become decision makers.

Gini Dietrich and Geoff Livingston are occasional Ragan.com and PR Daily contributors.

5. “Ready to Launch: The PR Couture Guide to Breaking into Fashion PR,” by Crosby Noricks

Among many aspiring public relations professionals, there’s a mistaken belief that the industry is all about fashion, cocktails, and parties. Hardly. But performing public relations on behalf of a fashion brand is one part of the business. For those serious about getting into this side of PR—and who want the straight dope on what it’s like—PR professional and blogger Crosby Noricks (of the PR Couture blog) offers a useful guide.

For Pleasure

1. “Fifty Shades of Grey,” by E.L. James

It’s a smash hit. According to our poll, most of you plan to read it (and the rest already have). Enough has been said about this book, so we’ll leave it at that.

2. “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, by George R.R. Martin

The uber-popular—and now controversial—”Game of Thrones” TV series on HBO began as a book series called “A Song of Ice and Fire.” The first in the series is titled “Game of Thrones,” which grabbed several awards upon its release in 1996. Thanks to the HBO series, the book became a New York Times bestseller last year.

There are five books in the series. The author, George R.R. Martin, is reportedly writing the sixth book, and a seventh is planned. Many PR Daily readers said they plan to tackle the books this summer.

3. “Girl Walks into a Bar,” by Rachel Dratch

Tina Fey’s “Bossypants” became a bestseller when it bookshelves last spring. Fey’s former “Saturday Night Live” cast mate Rachel Dratch hasn’t reached that pinnacle with her memoir “Girl Walks into a Bar,” yet. The book, released in March, covers Dratch’s romantic life and her unexpected pregnancy at the age of 44. Some have said it’s funnier than “Bossypants,” but you didn’t hear that from us. We can tell you this much—it’s no Debbie Downer:

4. “Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary,” by Simon Winchester

One of the primary contributors to the Oxford English Dictionary was Dr. W.C. Minor, a wealthy American Civil War veteran, who was locked in a British insane asylum for murder. In the 1880s, Minor began a correspondence from the asylum with editor Dr. J.A.H. Murray, and started helping him with the massive dictionary. The story of these men and this book, first published in 1999, is a terrific read for those who enjoy history, language, and intrigue.

5. “The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald

You’ll see a number of copies of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Great Gatsby” this summer, because the glossy movie version of the classic novel comes out later this year. By all means read “Great Gatsby.” Read it once a year. But if you want to dive deeper into Fitzgerald, pick up this collection of his short stories. It will probably keep you occupied into next summer. There are jaunty tales about drinking and wooing from early in this career, along with some sad and thoughtful stuff he wrote toward the end of his life. Read “Afternoon of an Author,” and you’ll feel grateful you do the majority of your writing in an office.

Any books you’d like to add to this (by no means definitive) list?

Topics: PR

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