Time to Hit the Books!

Last week was move-in day and this week most schools officially begin the 2011-2012 school year in the Boston area. Oh, how time flies. This time each year, I get a nagging sensation to clean and organize….maybe get a bit wild with the label maker. The first day of school was always my favorite. I wasn’t so excited to reconnect with people my age, but meet new teachers, explore new perspectives and open fresh textbooks. Some folks may like the new car smell, but I adore the smell of a new book. Listening to the first crack of the spine (yes, still talking about a book) is music to my ears.

Just because we have graduated and now are in 24/7 (um, I mean 9-5) jobs does not mean we stop learning or ignore the August/September habit of getting ready for school. I challenge you to reconnect with theory and explore how you are actually practicing all of the things you learned in school. Take inventory of what you didn’t learn in school and wish you had, then share with co-workers and folks you meet along the journey.

I don’t know about you, but I kept all of my textbooks. My mother and husband can attest to the fact that I hoard books and paper. So, what books will I drag out and review this season?

  1. Effective Public Relations by Scott M. Cutlip, Allen H. Center and Glen M. Broom: The book was originally published in 1952 and contains the original 7 C’s. There is only so much you can absorb in your introductory class to public relations. Once you begin to practice PR, the theories begin to make sense and act as a foundation for you to test your knowledge…or question the theories of communication greats now past.
  2. Plain English for Lawyers by Richard C. Wydick: I picked up this book during my brief law school time and the book is small and not intimidating at all. Exploring how other professions tackle writing and description is fascinating to me because in communications we have to be prepared to engage with anyone about any subject. Test your skills with the end of chapter exercises.
  3. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man by Marshall McLuhan: Before you brush off this suggestion, have you actually read the book? Digested the material or just heard and interpreted the quotes from this text? Perhaps it is time to explore why McLuhan’s work was viewed as a cornerstone of media theory.

And books I wish I had read while I was in school:

  1.  How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie: This is by far, the best business book, how-to book, anything-book I have ever read and re-read…and it was published in 1936. Social skills are not taught in school and are up to us to learn and adapt ourselves.
  2. The Hedgehog and the Fox: An Essay on Tolstoy’s View of History by Isaiah Berlin: You may be familiar with this essay mentioned in the must-read book, Good to Great. Berlin compares the moist and pluralist historical philosophies. Are you a fox or a hedgehog?

Take flight this fall in a book. Rediscover theories you studied in school. Are they still valid? How has this knowledge influenced your practice? What books would you add?

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