At an event on Tuesday in Toronto, author C.C. Chapman made a comment about giving up on reading so many social media business books (while ironically plugging his friend Mitch Joel’s new book — Ctrl Alt Delete).

I share his impatience. And frankly many recent books I’ve looked at on social business by the usual suspects are pedestrian, populist and touch only the surface of what today’s sophisticated digital users, social business leaders and consultants are wrestling with in their programs.

Chapman was urging the audience to be more ‘catholic’ — does anyone still use that word to mean ‘all embracing’ as it does ? — in their reading habits. To help you out here are my two lists of (a) core social media texts (b) non-social books including novels that nevertheless provide valuable perspective on how social web audiences think and act.

Core Social Texts

  1. Social Media ROI, Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization by Olivier Blanchard —the best of the bunch especially for people who manage social business teams
  2. Social Media Analytics: Effective Tools for Building, Interpreting, and Using Metrics by Marshal Sponder — go-to text for using social media analytics
  3. Content Rules by C.C. Chapman and Ann Handley because, well, content rules. (But ignore C.C. Chapman’s latest book if you are looking for social media insights)
  4. Social Media for Educators: Strategies and Best Practices by Tanya Joosten — for more than just educators
  5. Social Media is Bullshit by B.J. Mendelson — because it is always a good strategy to know what the other side thinks

Non-Social Books

  1. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami — a mind-bending novel from a Japanese master that opens your mind to extravagant ideas; and you need an open mind to get the most out of the social web idea flow
  2. Taipei by Tao Lin — recently published ‘Alt Lit’ novel that sheds a little light on how digital millenials remix their reality
  3. The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt — I’ve only just begun to read this because I hope it helps me understand how ideas among groups can become so rigid, which happens all the time in the social web hothouse
  4. Arguably: Selected Essays by Christopher Hitchens — because everyone can benefit from learning how to think and argue clearly