5 Books on My Summer Reading List

It’s summer, which for my family means time at the beach, or on a lake or pond, as much as possible. A few years back, hubby and I purchased our 34-foot motor home, vintage 1980s, in honor of my 40th birthday. It already owes us nothing, given the great trips we’ve taken in it so far, mainly to New Hampshire or to a small island close to home, North of Boston. (This is the up-side of the contracting lifestyle.)

Of course, since we’ve bought the camper, it seems at least to me that we’ve had an unusual share of rainy summers, but that can be OK, too. More time to play board games with the family, watch Scooby Doo or read with the kids, and maybe try out a new crock pot recipe.

Those rainy days in the camper are also good for curling up with a book of my own, or as the case more often is these days, with the Kindle. Since I received my Kindle as a Mother’s Day gift this spring, I’m definitely buying more books. I’m not 100% sure I’m reading more books—at least reading in the way I used to read–but that’s something I’ll explore in a different post.

Without further ado, here are the books I’m in the process of reading right now.

On My Kindle Right Now

1. The Ultimate Online Customer Service Guide: How to Connect with Your Customers to Sell More!, by Marsha Collier

I’ve followed Marsha Collier on Twitter (@MarshaCollier) for a while now, and I’ve always admired her positive online presence. I’m especially interested in ways technical writers can complement and enhance online Customer Service. Marsha’s book seems even more relevant now, with the advent of Google+, and its potential as a Customer Support platform.

2. Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions, by Guy Kawasaki

I’m almost done reading the book, and it’s a great introduction to the psychology of persuasion. Learn about the 3 pillars of enchantment: likeability, trustworthiness, and offering a great product. For a helpful preview of Kawasaki’s themes, see his interview with Brian Solis. Kawasaki’s insights on likeability were especially interesting to me as a technical communicator, as I explore affective user assistance.

3. Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability: When Bad Design Decisions Happen to Good People, by Steve Krug

In the late-nineties, I led an information design initiative at BBN Planet (of  ARPANET fame), which later became GTE Internetworking and finally, Genuity. I simultaneously completed usability, human factors, and web design courses at Bentley College (now Bentley University). Krugg’s book complements all those interests and past experience, providing a common sense approach to web design usability, delivered in a concise and highly accessible writing style.

4. The DITA Style Guide: Best Practices for Authors, by Tony Self

According to reviewer Yvonne Kucher on Amazon, “this book is the Chicago Manual of Style for DITA.” Through real-world examples and clear recommendations, “The DITA Style Guide (published by Scriptorium Press) describes how to create consistent, semantically correct DITA content.” In today’s  job market, knowledge of DITA best practices can provide a competitive edge for technical communicators.

5. When Search Meets Web Usability, by Shari Thurow and Nick Musica

I first learned about this book from Jared Spool’s User Interface Engineering (UIE) site. For a preview of Spool’s UIE Virtual Seminar Presentation, check out the video, When Search Meets Usability: Using Information for Improved Search Engine Visibility. There, Thurow discusses the convergence of SEO with web usability, as explored more fully, in her book.

Additional Recommendations

So, there you have it. Those are the books I’m reading on my Kindle, this summer. In this post, I didn’t even get to the books I’m reading or re-reading in print, or the books on my Amazon Wish List.

As I conclude, I’m thinking that it’s been awhile since I’ve read a good novel. Any fiction recommendations? Biographies are among my favorite types of books, too. And I’m always in search of a good cookbook. Sheryl Crow’s new cookbook with Chuck White, If It Makes You Healthy: More Than 100 Delicious Recipes Inspired by the Seasons, looks pretty good. Are there any other recent cookbooks you’d recommend? What are you reading lately?

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4 thoughts on “5 Books on My Summer Reading List

  1. Sorry, but the first book that pops into mind is “Now You See It” by Stephen Few – a book about data visualization. I’m reading it for the local UX Book Club and enjoying it immensely already. I’m only 30 pages in, so don’t expect a review now. I’ll post a review on my Good Reads account.
    If you are into biographies, I strongly recommend “The Man Who Knew Infinity” by Robert Kanigel.
    For an enjoyable summer read, if you are into fantasy, is “Mage Heart” by Jane Routley. One of those cases where I met the author in an expat community and of course, bought her book. It’s expensive knowing authors! 🙂

    • Hi Karen,
      Thanks for all the great suggestions. I’ll have to check out, if there is a local UX Book Club, in my neck of the woods. I’ll also look forward to your review of Stephen Few’s book, when you finish reading “Now You See It.” Your comment reminds me that I haven’t reviewed Edward Tufte’s books on visualization, in quite awhile. I grow each time I do…The other book recommendations sound just as interesting. Thanks again,

  2. I just read Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand and I thought it was excellent. It’s about Louie Zamperini, who was (is?) a US runner and Olympian and who survived many things, including Japanese POW camps. Hillenbrand did a ton of research and compilation of information to create a really engaging book. She could have been a technical writer – she interviewed a lot of people and wrote it up in a coherent, accessible, user-satisfying true story.

    • Hi Karen,

      I enjoy biographies, in the end, probably more than fiction, exactly because of inspirational stories, like this one, all the more powerful because they actually happened to someone. I’ll have to check out Hillenbrand’s book.

      Your analogy about the similarities between the technical writing process and biographical writing process also really resonates.

      I enjoy biographies because no matter what type of biography I read, there are usually great extensions to every day life, including business.

      Thanks again for the suggestion and for dropping by.


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