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  • Writer's pictureMary Elizabeth Wieder

M7 Book List 2022

Updated: Jan 1, 2023

Time to start the annual Book List with my reads for this year!

I don't have a particular method for how I choose my books. I like a mix of professional books related to my career in marketing, entrepreneurship and management, but I also like to throw novels and fiction in the mix as well to discover new authors and literature from other cultures. I also like to train my brain by switching between English and Italian language books!

  1. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov -- LINK

I started this book during winter holidays to expand my foreign literature knowledge. Known as one of the top novels of the 20th century and a classic in Russian literature, this book takes you on quite a fantasy ride through Moscow as residents frequently encouter the devil. Be prepared for a wild ride!

2. Start With Why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action by Simon Sinek -- LINK

I know I am a bit late in getting to this book, it's about 10 years old now, and I had heard of the Golden Circle before but it was a great read to remind us WHY we do what we do. As a marketing professional and manager and the President of a non-profit, the takeaways from this book allowed me to reassess why I get up and go to work and continue to run a non-profit dedicated do gender equality. I have also started rethinking both my non-profit strategy and consultancy business strategy starting with the WHY.

3. Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell -- LINK

Wow, it was difficult to put this book down! It gave haunting examples of what happens when we don't take the time to consider "the other" - or the fact we are talking with strangers. This is basic communication breakdown in our society, but on a much bigger scale with higher stakes and bigger consequences. How can we reevaluate our approach to communication with others to avoid misunderstanding, confrontation or something more serious (or even dangerous).

4. The Purple Cow (La Mucca Viola) by Seth Rodin -- LINK

I guess I am late to the bandwagon with this book, but I didn't find it exceptionally motivational. Probably the best "advice" I took from the book, as a professional marketer, is that we can't be afraid to be criticized for originality or innovation. If no one is criticizing us, we're probably not playing the game right.

5. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight -- LINK

I really enjoyed this book from Nike's main man and super entrepreneur, Phil Knight. It's true that the story is a bit "fantasized" and told like a Hollywood fairy tale and probably leaves out a lot of problems or ethical questions the owner faced, but it truly is a story of perserverence and never quitting - like a true athlete. Great read for business professionals, entrepreneurs, athletes or anyone who has their eyes on the prize.

6. Death and a Penguin by Andrey Kurkov -- LINK

With a devastating war at our doorstep, I was looking to better understand the history and culture between Russia and Ukraine through literature. Several sources, including The Economist, pointed me to Russian-born, but Ukrainian identified author Andrey Kurkov. This novel takes place in the 1990s in Kiev following a man who writes obituaries for newspapers and lives with his pet penguin. It's a strange kind of comedy and empathy that lets you peak into this unique culture.

7. The Science of Storytelling by Will Storr -- LINK

Storytelling - that's all we hear today from companies and brands. It has become the key strategic element behind communications, and the analytical side of me wanted to get a better idea of what that means. This is a brilliant analysis of how we can construct stories based on preconceived notions we have as human beings - it goes into the neuroscience of why we believe and fall in love with certain story lines and characters. There are some good takeaways for business communications as well.

8. Tales from the Cafe by Toshikazu Kawaguchi -- LINK

I read the first book in the series (Before the Coffee Gets Cold) last year after rave reviews. I find Japanese literature intriguingly simple, yet captivating. The plot of this book series is relatively simple: there is a cafe where you can go back in time or forward in the future but must return before the coffee gets cold. There is a mess of other rules, but the whole time the book challenges you to think about whether you would do it and if so.... when?

9. Il Marketing Della Felicità: metodi e strumenti per creare valore in azienda by Maurizia Rimondi -- LINK

A self-published work from a colleague in the field! :)

10. The Serpent Coiled in Naples by Marius Kociejowski -- LINK

After living in Italy for over a decade (in the north), I've always heard people talk about Naples and the Neopolitano people as a "world in its own" - both in a good way and in a bad way. I've always been fascinated with the city, its people and its culture. This book dives into what makes Naples unique from its mafia presence, to art, culture, theater and religion and its surrounding nature. Recommended by The Economist, it is a long read but a good one.

11. Why We're Polarized by Ezra Klein -- LINK

It's no secret that American politics has been increasingly polarized to the point where your political affilitation (identity) can break even the strongest of personal ties. I've often pondered the various reasons why in my head: historical events, the meaning of identity, the role of the media and even pop culture. The author puts together multiple pieces of a complex puzzle and brings it together to make sense. While I also agreed with most of his suggestions on managing polarization, I believe the educational gap deserved more mention, even if a complicated topic.

12. The Candy House by Jennifer Egan -- LINK

I was in the mood for a novel to wrap up the summer, and Egan did not disappoint. It was a web of interwined characters with a mix of page-turning stories that all had in common the complexity of "consciousness" and what we share with the world via the Internet. In a future world where we can upload our consciousness and memories, would you be an eluder or a counter? Would you value individual privacy or a collective that has potential for world good (or potential evil?). Good read if you are in the mood for a critical thinking fictional novel.

13. Big Sur by Jack Kerouac -- LINK

So I took a trip out to San Francisco in August and still had California on the brain, and I happen to be a fan of Jack Kerouac, so I picked up his acclaimed work about his experience in a cabin in Big Sur where he puts some of life's biggest questions on display and ponders them, in a constant state of drunkenness (but maybe that's the only way?), as he lives out various relationships with friends, family, children and even animals. The Beatniks can be hard to comprehend and digest, I tend to catch the "moral" once reflecting on the work as a whole.

14. Designing Your Life: How to build a well-lived, joyful life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans -- LINK

Being a certified facilitator of the design thinking methodology, and quite frankly in love with the method, I was curious about how two Stanford professors were going to tell me how to define MY life and what the key to happiness would be for me. I was a bit skeptical, but have to admit that I found the book quite helpful in simply mapping out thought processes and reflecting on various aspects of one's life. It is not a self-help book that is going to give you all the answers, instead it's going to give you the tools and exercises to design it yourself, which is even better. I would highly recommend this book for anyone feeling "stuck" either in career, personal life or both.

15. Senza Sangue (Without Blood) by Alessandro Baricco -- LINK

I was horrified to realize I only read one book in Italian this year, so I was looking for a good piece of literature. I recently read that this book by Alessandro Baricco is being made into a movie, and so I was curious. It did not disappoint. It's very short, but powerful. It also makes you reflect on how we choose to deal with major events in our life, whether traumatic or simply memorable. Read it, ideally in Italian if you can, before it becomes a major motion picture.

16. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley -- LINK

I recently cited this book in my International Marketing university class when talking about surveillance capitalism, our relationship with data and privacy and humans as commodities. So I decided to give the book another quick read, and if anything, it just makes me more perplexed about the future and what kind of society we are destined for. I often ask my students who has more power today - corporations/organizations or people, and they often answer people without hestitation. Hmm...

17. The Catch Me If You Can: One Women's Journey to Every Country in the World by Jessica Nabongo -- LINK

Part coffee table book, part travel guide, part photography book, part blog turned travel diary, this book was so wholesome. Jessica is the first black woman to visit every country in the world. She is also a crazy successful entrepreneur. Maybe it's my love of travel, my passion for gender equality and female success, or the entrepreneurial spirit, but thanks Jessica for sharing your journey! I also love how she disseminates stereotypes and shows us it's ok to travel around this beautiful globe, even by yourself! I've got the itch for a new adventure!

18. Mussolini: in Myth and Memory: The First Totalitarian Dictator by Paul Corner -- LINK

This book, recommended by The Economist and written by a political historian expert, was released around the same time that Italy was entering into an unforeseen election in which the predicted winner was to be Giorgia Meloni of the Fratelli d'Italia party - a political party which is known to have roots in fascism. As a dual citizen with voting rights in Italy, I was curious about Italian perceptions of fascism from its most notorious leader - Benito Mussolini. The author's work is a detailed academic summary of some common myths about facism that still hold true today, and the collective memory of Italians of their first totalitarian dictator. Even though Italy is an ageing population, there is a small population that was alive (and old enough) to remember his reign, so what memories have been passed down to future Italian generations?

19. Via da qui by Alessandra Sarchi -- LINK

Not much to say about this one, it is a short Italian novel composed of four short stories about people in unusual situations and their desire to go somewhere else: sometimes it's a return to the homeland, sometimes it's an emotional escape. It was nice little quick read to get the emotions going.

20. Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover -- LINK

It was a novel to get me through the holidays. Don't always trust the New York Times Bestseller List to give you a good read. Enough said.

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