Influential books

I have recently read a book for one of my summer classes, that I truly enjoyed. It is one of those reading assignments that sneaks up on you. You are given a book to read that may seem disconnected from what you do, or how you think you may connect with the subject matter, to realize that the information is not only brilliant, but applicable to so many areas of your life. Many times the information puts into words and explanations your actions and natural reactions in situations.

The first time this happened to me was in high school. I can vividly remember an afternoon music lesson with instructor. When the lesson ended I remember him handing me a ratty, beat up paper back copy of a text entitled, “The Inner Game of Tennis”. He said to me, “Take this home and over the week read the book. Every time you see the word tennis substitute the word trombone. It will make complete sense.” Well of course I didn’t believe him, and of course I disliked a reading assignment for a music lesson, but to this day that book has stuck with me. I still think back on it, and apply much of the novel subconsciously (which is what it is about).

In college, when I think about my profession as a landscape architect and planner I think about other books that have stuck with me: The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacob; Design with Nature, by McHarg; and A Sand County Almanac, by Aldo Leopold. Each has influenced and made me think about what it is I do. I don’t agree with everything in any of them them, but each is a book I use in my career. Of course there are others that each become more specialized, but for some of the overall guiding principles for what I do, they stand out.

I started this entry to talk about the one I am reading now. And yes it has quickly become one of those texts, that is influencing me. That even though I didn’t think I would find much knowledge from the text based on the subject matter. I can see where it truly is a reflection of how I work, and sets goals and ideals of how I should work. The book is not just about negotiations and tactics, but has hundreds of common sense tools and practices that can guide and instruct you on engaging and communicating with others. Just a great book.

Getting to Yes, by Fisher and Ury.

The last book that I want to mention is Stephen King’s On Writing. It is another one of those books, that for me is more than just about its subject matter but is a great lesson. Books that teach, explain and cross pollinate their subject matter with everyday life are truly special. These are just a few I have read.

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