5 Non-eLearning Books for eLearning Professionals

5 non-eLearning

I’m not sure why, but reading about eLearning has never really interested me. I enjoy having conversations about it, but reading about it just doesn’t seem right. There are a lot of great books out there on eLearning and there are good lists as well to help you choose the best.  However, for this post, I’d like to just highlight and recommend a few non-eLearning books that I believe can improve your career in corporate learning and development.

The Design of Everyday Things – Don Norman 

This is a classic and should be required reading for any industry or job title with the term DESIGN in it. I am a strong believer in design and reading this book early in my career was the best thing I ever did.  On several occasions in my past I’ve told engineering teams that the mere fact that I am needed means they haven’t done their jobs very well. I’ve even pleaded with them to put me out of a job: Design something SO amazingly simple and intuitive that NO training is required. Today I’ll settle for products only needing minimal training that can be accomplished in several short online, mobile-enabled, instructional videos. And thankfully, I’ve found exactly that at Litmos.

A Theory of Fun – Raph Koster 

I love this book SO much. It feels like every page has a powerful message directly related to what we do. In interviews this book is the answer when I get the standard question, “What book do you recommend most often?” I find myself recommending it a lot to people who are new to the eLearning industry and want a fun quick read that’s intellectually stimulating but not deadly boring. One of my favorite quotes, and there are many, from the book is this:

“There is a difference between designing the content and designing the end-user experience.”

Mind you, he is referring to game design.  But I would argue the same applies to instructional design. Please read it. You will not regret it.

Re-Imagine! – Tom Peters 

Tom has written a lot of books. But if you are going to start somewhere then Re-imagine is the one I’ll recommend. I can without question pin point the change in my career path, and personal motivation, to seeing Tom speak for the first time in 2000. As far as I know, he invented the idea of your personal brand. Nowadays every social media guru pontificates about building your social media presence and your personal brand.  But Tom talked about it before it was cool. He talked about having a personal web page. Back then, there was no Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin.  Many consider his delivery a little over the top.  I love it! And I NEEDED it back in 2000.  He was the adrenaline shot I needed to get off the sidelines and get in the game.  Everything that is @bschlenker today started in 2000 after seeing Tom Peters and reading all of his books.  Yes! All of them.

Brain Rules – John Medina 

John Medina’s 12 Brain Rules are so good and relevant to elearning that he is the only speaker to keynote twice during my time programming events at The eLearning Guild. The book is a really fun read, and all 12 rules can be applied to your life. I’ll let Dr. Medina tell you all about it.

Welcome to Brain Rules from Pear Press on Vimeo.

A Whole New Mind – Dan Pink 

If Tom Peters was the beginning of my professional transformation, then Dan Pink’s A Whole New Mind solidified my drive to continue on.  It’s no coincidence that I finally started my blog in 2005, the same year as the book’s release. The book covers what Dan calls “the six senses”: Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play, and Meaning. I don’t just have a feeling about these things being important. I’ve lived them all. My best work has been done when these 6 elements are present. I can look back with clarity and say, “yea, hey, that Dan Pink guy was really onto something.”

Those are my 5 favorite non-elearning books that I believe are important books…and just fun to read and have near by when I need a little motivation.  What’s your favorite non-eLearning book about elearning?