The Album versus the Book!!
How do you do it? How do you make that recommendation for something you love? Do you cater to your audience? Do you make allowances for your subject matter?
Have you heard the album from Callum Beattie? He is a new and fresh singer-songwriter from Glasgow, and his music is excellent. He has tremendous talent and a strong voice.
His album is called ‘People Like Us’ and the best song on the album is ‘Salamander Street’, track number 12, give it a try and start with that song, I am sure you will love it. I do. Once you hear that song, you will get into the rest of the album.
This was a recommendation from a friend, and it turned out to be ninety-nine percent correct in every way. Callum Beattie has delivered a brilliant album. He is a talented singer-songwriter, and track number 12 is possibly the best song on the album.
I am in between best songs as I am still digesting deeply. But track no 12 and no 2 are head to head in a battle for my coveted personal choice of the best. Hence the detracted one percent for the combined rating on the recommendation.
But this got me thinking. Recommendations, word of mouth are some of the best ways to build a tribe. Having people share your work and do it with passion beats superficial advertising any day of the week. However, you do have to get something out there first and scale it (the job of advertising and marketing) before you can have the raving fans sing a tune of praise for your work.
So recommendations are an essential part of the profile of success for any content creator or producer of wares. This got me thinking about recommending a musical triumph such as a great album versus a stinking good book read.
For an album recommendation, we give some context, the title, and we might also provide a comparison act. Then we pull out the best song to go direct to for the first listen. For a book recommendation, particularly the books we would recommend, we give context and a tiny part of the plotline… avoiding the spoilers. Then we restate the must-read status. But we don’t say CHAPTER 8 was a blinder. Start there.
Now, with a fiction book, I can understand the idea of allowing the reader to start at the logical place, chapter one, page one, and then read through the story to gather the imagery and plot lines to enjoy the book as intended. Although, in all fairness, in some books, you could bypass the first couple of chapters and still get the gist of the store. In a few books, you could read the first chapter and the last two chapters plus the jacket blurb, and you would get the picture.
In some books, you just have to soak up every detail and enjoy the rip-roaring ride into the detail of every leaf on every tree or star in every galaxy. That is the skill of the writer. They make you want to consume the detail and enjoy their world go by in the way they envisioned it in their writing.
Now non-fiction books are where I think we could make some changes to the recommendation process. This is where I believe we can take the direction from the album recommendation process. I think we can dish out the detail and the context of the book, but I think we should chop in the reason for reading the book and the go-to chapter.
Think about that for a minute.
Think about the last non-fiction book you recommended. How would you rephrase the conversation if you were to suggest that someone read it based on the same criteria you use for a music album? What chapter would you recommend the reader start with or spend more time consuming? Would you change the narrative, and would you present the writer better? Would you take the time to know the writer differently, and would you reference his other material or find a comparable writer to put more meat on the bones of your recommendation?
Or, more importantly, and this is the reason for suggesting this new approach, would you read the book differently? Would you pay more attention to the details and the themes and insights of each chapter? Would you take the time to carefully reflect on what you got out of each section and then compile a thoughtful paragraph that positions the best ideas portrayed in the pages of the book?
I checked back on the last non-fiction book that I recommended. I know now that I would have consumed the book differently if I were to suggest someone read it in the way I would suggest a music album to a friend.
Have you read that book from Morgan Housel? He is an American writer with a great voice who writes about personal finance, a bit like, Robert Kiyosaki who wrote that famous book Rich Dad Poor Dad.
Morgan Housel’s book is called ‘The Psychology of Money’, and the best chapter in the book is ‘Wealth is What You Don’t See’, chapter number 9. Give it a try by reading that chapter. Once you read that chapter, you will want to read the rest of the book. I am sure you will love it. I do.
That book recommendation sounds different. It feels better. Cleaner and more engaging. But, to be honest, I had to go back and reference the book again and think about what chapter I would recommend the most from what is an all-around great book.
My takeaway from this stream of thinking is that I will take more time to understand the book and be more thoughtful in pitching my recommendations to others.
To complicate matters further, just wait until the new Matrix movie is released…
…that will be a whole new chapter.