Inspired by Joe Thornley’s list of social media-themed books he keeps around I thought I’d do the same. Like Joe I find incredible value in books and the freedom books give their authors to go in-depth and provide context on subjects. As I said in my review of Now is Gone, I may not always agree with the arguments made in these books, but I don’t always agree with stuff people post on their sites either. And I just love reading books. So there’s that.

So here’s what’s in the bookshelf above my desk right now.

  • The Age of Conversation (various): Where else are you going to get 100 bloggers to chime in in one place? Each piece on the current state and future of new marketing is a good read. Lots of familiar names and some new ones but a consistently good interesting book.
  • Blogging for Business (Holtz/Demopoulos): While other books focus more on strategy and *why* you should start a blog for your business, BfB walks the reader through the process of actually doing it and throws in plenty of rational and strategy to remind the reader they’ve made the right decision.
  • The Long Tail (Anderson): One of four books I’ve read that have just completely blown my mind in terms of changing how I think about all aspects of marketing, distribution and a list of related topics in a wired (heh) world.
  • Grapevine (Balter/Butman): Dave Balter is the founder of word-of-mouth marketing firm BzzAgent and the book, while interesting in spots, often reads like too much of a sales pamphlet for his own company than a general best-practices piece.
  • What Sticks (Briggs/Stuart): Not really about “new” marketing so much as about making sure you’re making well-informed decisions with your marketing strategies. What I most got out of this one was the idea that there needs to be set goals for success before starting a campaign, with everyone working toward that goal, no matter what it is.
  • The Tipping Point (Gladwell): The second of the two books on this list that really changed my thinking quite a bit. I know it’s become cliched to cite this one, but there’s a reason why it’s on everyone’s list of books to read.
  • BuzzMarketing (Hughes): Like Grapevine, the author spends a bit too much time talking about himself and how brilliant he himself is but there are some good stories in there. Not so much a thought-provoker as it is a series of self case studies.
  • Life After the 30-Second Spot (Jaffe): The third game-changing book on my list. Not only is there some indispensable advice in here, but if you read it with Jaffe’s voice in your head the book is 25% more engaging and 40% funnier.
  • Beyond Buzz (Kelly): A collection of very convincing case studies on word-of-mouth generating efforts as well as how to leverage that buzz. To my mind a very good resource to have on hand if a C-suite exec asks for precedent before executing that idea you just had.
  • Now is Gone (Livingston): Meant as a wake-up call for executives procrastinating on creating a social media strategy, Now is Gone doesn’t so much show them how to do that but kicks them in the butt and points them in the right direction to figure out what will work for them lest they be left in the dust of their competitors.
  • Citizen Marketers (McConnell/Huba): Ben and Jackie make a strong case for why companies need to embrace – or at least not squash – the enthusiasm of the everyday people that love their brand or their products. That’s especially important with online tools that allow people to congregate in communities and share their stories at the press of a button. >li>
  • Naked Conversations (Scoble/Israel): Open up and just be authentic is the gist of the book, though it goes a little deeper than that. Certainly dated in its reference points now but still a great place to start and get your feet wet before diving into weightier tomes.
  • Word of Mouth Marketing (Sernovitz): I stand by my original statement that this is the book to throw down on your C-level exec’s desk if he ever asks you why you would ever want anyone to talk about your company without marketing’s approval.
  • Can We Do That? (Shankman): This one isn’t so much about changing your strategy as shaking up your thinking. Shankman spends a lot of time encouraging people to break free of the office and live lives that inspire more creativity, something that then has a positive impact on clients or your company.

Yes, the information and stats in some of these books is a bit dated, and was so approximately five minutes after it went to press. That’s inevitable. But taking the time to read them is not just about reading their content. It’s a way to get a deeper perspective on the issues we’re seeing fly before us every day as well as the authors themselves. It’s also valuable, I think, to slow down and pull out a book every now and again and not get caught up in the current of the social media world. Reading a book is a deliberate act, one that opens your mind a bit.