Kirkpatrick & Hopes - Succession Planning Accountants

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What makes a business book worth reading?

I just counted the unread and part-read books on my bookshelf at home and was amazed to find that there are 20 of them. Many of these were books I started reading literally years ago.

On the other hand, I read a book that my client Julian Sharples recently bought me a (The Inside Advantage) within a few days. (Thanks again, Julian.)

This made me reflect on what makes a really compelling business or personal development book (pretty much the only sort I of books that I read these days).

For me to want to read a book through to the end it must be:

Written in the right style. Many authors recognise this, eg The One Minute Millionaire is actually two books: even numbered pages are conventional, factual style and odd pages carry the same message but as part of a story.

Have the right layout. I find dense blocks of text hard to wade through. Anything with graphs, varying fonts and text sizes are much easier to take in. I think the books in the Q-Learning series are great.

Relevant to where I am or to where my business is now. It can be the best book in the world but if is about start-ups and mine is a mature business I will not get much from it.

(Sometimes) up to date. eg a marketing book that predates web 2.0 and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) etc is unlikely to offer all the help that it should. On the other hand, the message in some book is perennial. The Inside Advantage was published in 2008.

Free of padding. Surely not every point needs to be illustrated by a parable or example? The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is a great book but it would be a lot better if it were half as long.

Recommended by someone who understands the reader’s preferences and needs (especially point 4). We give out the E-Myth to many small business owners because such a large part of that book so relevant to them- even if they don’t or can’t accept that fact!

These are just my personal criteria. Please let us know what factors influence how much value you get out of a business/personal development book – for example I know a lot of people who swear by audio versions for use in the car, MP3 players etc.

Also check out our Business book reviews on this site.

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