Automatic Millionaire

autoMillionI was a bit leery of this book at first.  The cover makes it sound like a “get rich quick” scheme, and it’s very clear that the author has an agenda to sell books –nothing against him, it just kinda turned me off at first.  Once I got past the marketing schpiel I tore through the first 85 pages or so.  David Bach spells out, in very simple terms, how to live within your means and save money without much work at all.  It’s quite brilliant really.  Over and over (even to the point of feeling redundant) he makes the point: force yourself to save money automatically.

Personally, as a freelancer without a biweekly paycheck it is much harder to practice what he’s preaching although it’s no less valid.  It’s worth your time to read it, even if the marketing verbiage makes you want to hurl.

4Foots

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Financial Peace [Revisited]

financialPeaceI asked my friend Jenny if she could suggest any good books to help me take control of my finances, and this was the first book she suggested.  Having read it, I can see why!  It is a solid, foundational book for anyone who is tired of being a slave to their money.  Ramsey is a straightforward author who tells it like it is.  Some of the things he says will make you uncomfortable at first, but he is speaking from his own experience; and you can’t argue with that.  He strips away so many misconceptions about money and then shows the reader that the path to financial peace is really a simple thing if only you will try.  If you are serious about mastering your finances (and btw, you will never master them until you get serious about it), do yourself a favor and read this book!

5Foots

Rise of the Creative Class

by Richard FloridaAuthor and economist Richard Florida looks at history through the lens of creativity to see how it has shaped, and is shaping, our culture, our livelihood, and our lifestyles.  The first few chapters of this book blew me away.  I really felt as though the author genuinely understands creative people better than most authors and perhaps art directors.  He put into words things that I have often felt, but couldn’t describe well.  He has a way of presenting ideas that seem contradictory at first, but as he explains them you can’t help but draw the same conclusions.  It will definitely alter your worldview if you let it.

All in all, the book is excellent, but I do have two complaints: 1.) It’s too long.  I’m a fan of big books, but this one starts to feel redundant after a while.  2.) The classification of “creative class” is a bit too broad.  According to the book, pretty much anybody not serving food or working in a factory falls into the “creative class” at one point or another.  It does describe the “super creative core” and I think those are the people who will benefit the most from this book.

Naked Conversations

by Robert Scoble and Shel IsraelSince the title of this book leaves a bit too much room for the imagination, let me first say that this is a book about blogging, specifically, how it can help or hurt your business. The back cover sounded dead on. To paraphrase, “Customers are tired of being put on hold, interrupted at dinner, and being talked ‘at.’ Blogging allows companies to talk with their customers and let the customers talk back.” Great idea! I love the concept, but the book is rather dull. The authors are overly biased –they do admit that it’s not objective, but this confession doesn’t come until the end of the book which can make for a frustrating read at times. Honestly, I think they spent a little too much time in the jaded blogosphere to realize that outside of it –you know, in the “real world”– people’s perceptions of things are quite different. The chief weakness of this book is its length. There is no question that there are some good points in here, but if you’re like me you’ll become bored with the redundancy.

Jump Start Your Business Brain

by Doug HallIf ever there is a guy who understands marketing it’s Doug Hall. This book discusses three main marketing principles, how they work together, and how to leverage them. Early on in the book he says (paraphrased) “I don’t know anything about your business, but I know marketing. Take what you know, add to it what I’m about to teach you, and in the end you stand a far greater chance of running a successful business.” The entire book is backed up by numerous studies and he sticks closely to the results, not veering off to give his personal opinions if they aren’t validated by the stats. In the often deceitful world of marketing Doug Hall stands out as a refreshingly clear, honest voice who is genuinely interested in your success.

88 Secrets to Selling and Publishing Your Photography

by Scott BourneThe strength of this book is that it is short, direct, and filled with ideas. It can even be a good resource for businesses other than photography. I, personally, didn’t get that much out of this book, but I suppose that’s because the author and I think alike (at least in matters relating to this book). While many people raved about the book –and for good reason– I found myself thinking, “I already do that,” or “Doesn’t everybody already know that?” Yet, I stand by my original statement: the book is short, direct, and filled with ideas.

Starting Your Career as a Freelance Photographer

by Tad CrawfordI suspect that most people who buy this book will be somewhat disappointed, not because the book isn’t good, but simply because most people who want to become a freelance photographer are the type of people who get an idea and then run with it. This book does a good job of laying a foundation of knowledge that a photographer needs to run a business, but often times it’s not until something becomes a problem that a freelancer would turn to a book like this. Chances are, the people who will read this book want answers to a few specific questions (e.g. “How much should I charge?” “What camera should I use?” “What should the contract say?”) If you’re looking for something cookie-cutter like that, I will suggest that you shouldn’t try running a business of your own. It’s hard work, and too many businesses fail because people are trying to get away from work. The real benefit of this book is how it can work as a launchpad for your own ideas and work flow. In conclusion: it’s a good book if you give it a fair shot, but it represents a lot of hard work that can’t be accomplished while merely reading.