By Mary Kate Cary, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
This Christmas, more e-books were sold on Amazon.com than printed books for the first time in history. Here's one of the most interesting press releases I've read in a while, the Amazon.com release announcing the quirkier details of its sales figures this year. (For example: "Amazon customers purchased enough fruit cake to equal the weight of a 1967 Volkswagen Bug.") I know that whole move to e-books is a bit controversial, and I'll write about that debate next week.
I've had a Kindle since they first came out, and I don't use it much for beach reading—I use it for business. So if, like many folks, you found a Kindle or other e-reader under your tree this year, here are a few suggestions of useful e-books you should load onto it when you need to prepare for speaking engagements or written pieces in whatever line of work you do. E-books don't go out of print, and you can carry over a thousand books in your briefcase—something you can't do on a laptop. Once you've loaded these on, use the "search" button to find all kinds of quotes and anecdotes based on key phrases on which you need to speak or write. Almost all of them are less than $10 and I've included the link for Kindle editions so you can order them directly.
Bartlett's Familiar Quotations ($3.96): The essential reference tool for writers and speakers. There's also the much more expensive Bartlett's Book of Anecdotes ($28.00), which is great when you need a humorous story to illustrate your point. Most people would rather not stand in front of a crowd and tell a "so the pig says to the bartender" type of joke; they'd rather have a wry story with a point to it. (I would also recommend Lend Me Your Ears by William Safire, the definitive collection of the greatest speeches ever given, but it's not out on Kindle yet. You might want to buy the hardcover while it's still around. Great to have on your bookshelf.)
The Quotable Mark Twain by Mark Twain ($1.00) or, for that matter, all of The Works of Mark Twain ($4.79): If you were stuck on an uncharted island and could only bring one book of quotes (for speeches to the natives), I'd say you'd want Twain. The quintessential American writer, safe to quote in front of any crowd, and you can find a line or two appropriate for just about any occasion.
The Wit and Wisdom of Winston Churchill by James Humes ($8.97): When you need to rally the troops and inspire the crowd, why not borrow from the best? Humes is a former Nixon speechwriter who is a Churchill buff; he also wrote the pricier The Wit and Wisdom of Ronald Reagan ($13.26), which includes quotes, anecdotes and speech excerpts. (One caution is that you have to judge your crowd before quoting Reagan, as you may be perceived as coming across as partisan. Not a problem with my friends, but yours may be different!)
When You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It! by Yogi Berra ($9.56): Great opening lines for "impromptu" remarks. Like Twain, you can quote Yogi Berra in front of any crowd. Plus, you'll laugh out loud browsing it.
Complete Works of William Shakespeare ($0.99): 197 plays, poems, and sonnets for less than a buck. Always good to have the Bard ready if you need a line or two.
The Essential Poetry Anthology by Whitman, Shakespeare, Dickinson, Wordsworth, Tennyson, Coleridge, et al. ($4.99): Comes in handy for memorial services, wedding toasts, and other big occasions in life. You might want to order a copy of the Bible—depending on which translation you choose, some are as low as $0.79. There are also books of nothing but toasts and eulogies, if you find yourself in those situations more often.
Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln: 21 Powerful Secrets of History's Greatest Speakers by James Humes ($9.99): Another one by the great James Humes. The only how-to-give-a-speech book I ever tell friends to buy, and I put it on the syllabus when teaching classes in speechwriting. Easy to read, great examples, and very effective. Highly recommended if you do any public speaking at all.
A dictionary comes pre-loaded on your Kindle, so no need for that, but I did order Roget's Thesaurus ($9.99). I don't have any sort of encyclopedia-type of reference book loaded on my Kindle, because I figure I can go onto Google from the Kindle if I need to double-check facts and information.
You probably know you can get either full subscriptions or single issues of all the top newspapers and magazines on your Kindle—including your favorite, US News & World Report. Don't leave home without your favorite Thomas Jefferson Street writers!
Biographies of greats within your particular industry are a good idea as well: If you sell cars, consider Henry Ford's autobiography, ($0.99); if you're in the military, maybe Tom Brokaw's The Greatest Generation ($9.99). You can search for stories and quotes within the book, which, until all books are digitized, is not yet possible on the Internet. Plus, they're a good read when you're stuck on the tarmac—if they'll let us read books on planes these days.