Reading Lists

Close up on old book on colourful bokeh backgroundOver the coming months I will aim to add a selection of books covering three main areas – Arts (Marketing and Busines), Management, and Life. The third sections will bemuse some, suprise or irritate others, and hopefully inspire many.  You’ll have to excuse me if I muddle up the list a little – which only reflects my reading habits.  Hope you enjoy – do let me have any comments of any sort.  Cheers  Chris

Getting to Maybe – Frances Westley,  Brenda Zimmerman and Michael Quinn Patton / Vintage Canada / 978-0-679-31444-8

We are living at a point in history when the need and desire for change is profound…We need to be change-makers – and very capable ones at that…Assume hope, all you who enter here.”  An extraordinary book I was introduced to 5 years ago, and which I used as a focus for my last Musical Theatre Matters international conference.  It seemed to resonate through the day…and MTM:UK is now safe and well within the fold of the Arts Council NPO status from this month (April 2012).  “The flow can find you only if you’re in the stream. Get in the stream and learn to observe the currents around you.”  May this book help you.

The Audacity of Hope – Barack Obama / Canongate / 978-1-84767-083-0

As Mr Obama began to run on a ticket of change for the Presidency I read Dreams from my Father and then turned to his “thoughts on reclaiming the American Dream”. It felt extraordinary to have the opportunity to try to understand the man behind the throne, written in advance of the battle to ascend the throne.  So many of my friends in America did not believe that the American people would have the vision to take a chance on this man. They did. And I will look again from the outside over the coming months as the election circus takes to the global networks.

Presence – Patsy Rodenburg / Penguin – Michael Joseph / 978-0-718-14999-4

This is by my bed at the moment, not yet read. However it is one of the inspirational books which forms a cornerstone of the Art of Being Heard course which Kath runs for the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds. I have now helped to host 15 of these courses for around 90 business leaders across Suffolk and beyond.  They and I have been inspired by the core of this book and the course that Kath has developed. Each business leader has been changed by taking a day to understand more fully what it is to be Present.  They thank Kath. We in turn thank Patsy Rodenburg and other great teachers who support the cross-over work from art to business practice.

Time to Think – Nancy Kline / Cassell Illustrated – Octopus / 978-0-7063-7745-3

“Even in a heirarchy people can be equal as thinkers. Knowing you will have your turn improves the quality of your listening…A Thinking Environment is natural, but rare. It has been squeezed out of our lives and our organisations by inferior ways of treating each other. Organisations, families and relationships can become Thinking Environments again, where good ideas abound, action follows and people flourish”  An inspiring and very simple book which helps us uncover the ability to listen. “The quality of your attention determines the quality of other people’s thinking”

Cosmic Weather Report – Mark Borax and Ellias Lonsdale / North Atlantic Books / 978-1-55643-942-1

The book opens by quoting Van Morrison “If my heart could do the thinking and my head begin to feel I would look upon the world anew and know what’s truly real…” and this is most definitely a book I would term “out there”. I was introduced to it as a must read as part of the exploration of what it means to be living today in 2012. It is sub-titled “Notes from the edge of the universe. Guidance for radically changing times.”  “If your job’s become meaningless, if your love is burning, if your soul’s on fire, if you find yourself thrown into the void, raw, naked, and spinning don’t get too alarmed…That life you led got in the way of something bigger and has to be released…This is our greatest wake-up call to deprogram ourselves from the cult of normalcy and begin to design a life based more on what is than what isn’t. ”  Good luck with an “out there” read and a half.

The Warmth of the Heart prevents your Body from Rusting – Marie de Hennezel translated by Sue Dyson / Rodale / 978-1-905744-84-8

This wonderful heartwarming, hopeful, powerful book came to my bedside as Kath was researching for her trans-generational conversation project Tender Age which had its first showing in a series of workshops in association with the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds Creative Learning  team, and her Authentic Artist Collective, and will grow through a project this summer (Jul 2012) with the Kensington and Chealease “In Transit” Festival.  “There is nothing older than not wanting to grow old. We are afraid…The worst is not inevitable. Something within us does not grow old. I shall call it the heart, the capacity ti love and to desire, that inexplicable incomprehensible force which keeps the human being alive…”  Enjoy a very special exploration of human experiences, and think how you relate to someone much older than yourself.

The Contagious Power of Thinking – David R. Hamilton PhD / Hay House / 978-1-84850-293-2

This fascinating blend of science and spirit is itself contagious. To quote the book jacket “You don’t need to be on the Internet to be connected. We are all part of interconnected networks, whether we’re aware of it or not. The book provides astonishing scienticic evidence to show how habits, attitudes, emotions, and even kindness spread rapidly outwards from person to person through personal contact”.  To quote Archbishop Desmond Tutu who opens the book “Ubuntu is very difficult to render into a Western language…It is to say, “My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in what is yours”   Enjoy this.

Theatre for Children – David Wood with Janet Grant / Faber and Faber / 0-571-17749-2

I spent many years running a course for Musical Theatre composers and lyricists called “A Month of Sundays”.  Through that time, and over the previous 20+ years I have been rewarded by finding the occasional inspirational book which makes really direct sense to all who read it.  David Wood’s lifetime of writing for children is brought to life through this book and, after reading, you too will count your “suddenlies” whether you are writing a play, a musical, a blog, or even a book list.  If you want to read about the art and craft of writing – then grab this engaging study.

Lessons from the art of Juggling – Michael J Gelb and Tony Buzan / Arum Press / 1-85410-602-3

For 10 years or so I taught at variously Queen Margaret University College Edinburgh and Rose Bruford the gentle arts of Arts Marketing,  Arts Management, Event Management and Fundraising …although I admit for each I gave the course a rather more engaging title. Well here is one of the books I used as inspiration for areas of teaching.  This rather wonderful “two for one” book gives you great advice/guidance on “how to achieve your full potential in Business Learning and Life” whilst also taking you through a step by step study of juggling.  Facinating to turn up this book again, bought in 1998, and realise how much there is within it that is also now at the centre of some of the other more recent corporate and business wellness agenda. It was ahead of its time mixing business with play.

Brand Manners – Hamish Pringle and William Gordon / John Wiley and Sons / 0-470-85610-6

Any book that’s going to get on this list is that it always deserves a second look. As time changes, our lives, change, our hopes and dreams change, and our positions change, then it is good to come back to a book which influenced or helped you then and see how it can help now. Just skimming this, another book I used when teaching, I am reminded that it was written by two people who wanted to “ensure that [within a business] the internal organisation and its human capital were not only better aligned behind the external brand values and promises that a company delivers to its customers, but actually enhance the quality of working life of employees too”.  Its back on my pile as I work through with my colleagues the introduction of a new vision and mission for the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds.

Secrets in the Fields – Freddy Silva / Hampton Roads Publishing / 978-1-57174-322-0

Since childhood I have loved the unknown, indeed in my first job application cv’s I used to put it down as a hobby. One of the first serious non-fiction books on my shelf was Mysterious Britain by Janet and Colin Bord.  So when I was first taken to Wiltshire and realised throughout the summer there were dozens of mysterious patterns in the fields to be seen and walked in I was very excited.  I have no idea how they occur. This book on the “science and mysticism of crop circles” offers all sorts of thoughts. I love the fact that the universe is too complex for me to understand. I love the fact that I am learning about contagious thought, and the power of the heart, and the art of juggling.  It keeps my inner sense of wonder alive – and I hope that reflects in my work.  So I add this book merely to suggest you might take a trip to Wiltshire this summer and have a walk around.  The patterns are exquisite, complex, strange, and just there for each one of us to see and experience if we wish.

The Elder Brothers’ Warning – Alan Ereira / Jonathan Cape / 978-0-9559816-0-9

A friend of ours mentioned, when we popped in for coffee last summer, that he had been asked to help with the making of a film about the Koji people. I’d never heard of this indiginous tribe. Within a few days I had heard them mentioned on the radio, and seen something in a paper.  As so often happens I was awakened to notice more than I had noticed before.  It is so easy to focus on our work, our immediate community, our petty politics.  At this time in our global “civilisation” this book may make you see things very differently

The Shock Doctrine – Naomi Kline / Penguin / 978-0141024530

As you contemplate other civilisations such as the Koji, we have to consider what we as a globally dominating group of dis-united nations have done, are doing, and will do to our planet.  Collectively we can make a difference for good. But sometimes you need a wake-up call. And Naomi Kline’s book is the loudest most terrifying wake-up call I have ever read. If there is one book I hope is on the desk of every world leader as they take their throne of office, it is this one.  Before they start repeating or denying, at least take a moment to think…maybe they (and we) will make different choices in the future.  Next time you wander the aisles of the superstore, or wonder why we need so much miltary power, have a read of this alarming book.

New Marketing Practice – David Mercer / Penguin / 014 02 4078 0

Tightly packed with every possible marketing tool, charts, jargon and useful stuff. I have found it good to dip into on most jobs I have done. The tools don’t change – although the jargon may differ now from 1997 when this was published.  Anyone in Marketing of Arts/Business administration could find it a useful tool-kit.

So You Want To Be A Theatre Producer ? / James Seabright / Nick Hern Books / 978 1 85659 537 9

I admit to only having skimmed this so far, since its publication last year, but it looks like a real, fundemental, sensible, introduction to being a producer – and presuming you have to start at the bottom and work upwards. It is worth a very serious study for anyone starting out. James is an immensely dedicated, passionate, phenomenally busy, and very successful producer working behind the scenes. You won’t see his name in lights. You won’t see him at the Palladium (yet) or sitting on a reality tv programme. You will find him working flat out to uncover, nurture, present, and champion all manner of theatrical productions which should/could turn a profit, and might with immense hard work, make a good profit.  If you get the chance to work with him, listen to him, or just read the book – grab it.  He knows what its like to make a business happen.

Time to Think / Nancy Kline / Cassell Illustrated / 978 0 7063 7745 3

Once in a while you will read a book which is so simple, and so direct, and so enlightening, that it really could change the way your life/business works. This is one of those books. Alongside my passion for Open Space Technology as a tool for meetings, this clear look at 10 behaviours that form a system called the Thinking Environment, offers a way of doing business which we could all benefit from sharing. “The quality of your attention determines the quality of other people’s thinking”.  Hope you find this book valuable.

How To Have Kick-Ass Ideas / Chris Barez Brown / Harper Element / 0-00-722094-4

If I have one beef, even now, 30 years into my career, it is that when I am in the role of administrator, marketing, fundraiser, even producer I am thought of as in some way not creative.  Nothing gets my goat more than a “creative team meeting” in the diary without the marketing team – we pick up the pieces later and try to make the jigsaw look good.  So here’s a book which makes you realise you/we are creative, and gives you great ways to hone, excite, challenge your own creative potential.  “I believe in business you cannot afford not to have fun” Says the author…explore how, why, and then go out there and show you too are a creative.

Producing Theatre – a Comprehensive Legal and Business Guide / Donald Farber / Limelight Editions / 0-87910-103-2

My edition of this book is 1993, and I admit to not knowing how much may have changed, what I do know is that the basic framework of Broadway, off Broadway, off-off-Broadway, stock/repertory in the states has not changed.  I also know that more and more successful theatrical ventures rely on collaboration between UK and US players.  If you are a small time UK producer and you get something happening in the US, then you can return and talk of being International. If you are a young hungry wannabe theatremaker then knowing how both sides of the pond work can only be useful.  Hope you find this helpful – its full of legal docs which are different to here… but perservere because the essence of an agreement or negotiation is not that different.

Good to Great – Why some companies make the leap and others don’t / Jim Collins / Collins / 0-06-662099-6

Over 20 years I have had amazing dinner conversations with a lovely friend in New York, Susan Lee, a marketing and new business in the arts guru and ex-head of marketing of the League. We hit an inexpensive restaurant with a paper tablecloth cover (essential) and by the end of the evening the cloth is covered by our visual representations of our futures, together and separate, making art and things happen. One meet she recommended this book, and I commend it to you. She’s a “good to great” practitioner. I’m more of an admirer of the extraordinary skills needed to go the extra mile. I commend it to those who challenge themselves to make that leap.

The Ultimate Book of Business Quotations / Stuart Crainer / Capstone / 1-900961-29-6

I finish on a lighter note.  I’ve done a lot of teaching – marketing, fundraising, project management, event and arts management. I love it. I get to talk about all the stuff I’ve done, and try to get people to be as excited by their own area of expertise (aspiration) as I have been, and continue to be.  But you need a bit of a slide presentation sometime to ensure the undergrads or the postgrads have something to take away with them – or they feel cheated if they’ve just spent a morning thinking/talking. So I turn to a trusty mine of bon mots. Some of them are the standard silly fun stuff. Some provide real momeents for reflection. Random choice …

“We trained hard to meet our challenges but it seemed as if every time we were beginning to form into teams we would be reorganised. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganising and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, ineffectiveness and demoralisation”  No that’s not someone in Westminster, its Gaius Petronius, writer in the court of Nero in the 1st century AD.

Enjoy this reading list – and please email me any suggestions with comments to chris [at] chrisgrady [dot] org


PS – More of the Arts Marketing ones will follow, when I collect a selection from the office and sit here at home to think about them, and offer them with ISDN numbers to you.  This is rather more of a personal journey than I expected when I was just going to jot down a few titles.  More expected topics and books to follow.