24 books to change your life


This list will keep you entertained-and maybe make you a better veterinarian.

Summer's here this month, and it's time to get your reading list in order. (You didn't think you could slack off after you graduated, did you?) While your fiction selections shouldn't be a problem, what about some creative thinking and nonfiction choices? Something historical? Something educational? How about a book on small business ownership or one on repairing the economy?

We have five people in the veterinary industry ready and willing to make learning and stretching your mind easy. These individuals are avid readers, have different tastes and interests and come from diverse professional backgrounds—veterinary, financial and legal. They were asked to make recommendations with the following ground rules in mind: The books must be non-fiction, still in print and valuable for the Veterinary Economics reader.

So find those stray gift cards, load up your online shopping cart and take a chance on one—or more—of the 24 books listed below.

Dr. Jean Maixner is co-owner and hospital administrator of Animal Critical Care and Emergency Services in Seattle, Wash. She is a graduate of the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

1 First, Break All Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman

This book asks 12 simple questions to evaluate successful workplaces, focusing on people and their fit within an organization. Employees have the potential to be good at some jobs, but not all jobs, and there must be a good fit between the job and the person's talents for an individual to be successful. It also describes what successful managers and leaders do.

2 To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel Pink

Anytime you ask someone for his or her time, money, service or product, you're in the business of selling or negotiating. The author lists attunement, buoyancy and clarity as key qualities of successful negotiators.

3 Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink

It's a myth that most people need to be motivated by carrots—as in the "carrot and stick" theory. Once a person's financial needs are met, other motivators kick in: autonomy (the desire to act independently), mastery (the desire to be proficient at something you believe in) and purpose (the desire to do work towards something meaningful).

4 If Disney Ran Your Hospital: 9 ½ Things You Would Do Differently by Fred Lee

This is a remarkably easy read that defines service as culture. The book talks about the experience of being a patient and how each team member contributes to that experience. There are small, everyday things a team can do to drive patient care and create loyalty. The book was written with a human hospital service as its backdrop, but the concepts are transferable to all service sectors, including veterinary medicine.

Bonnie Lutz, Esq., is a shareholder at Klinedinst and specializes in defending veterinarians in litigation and administrative actions. She is a graduate of the California Western School of Law in San Diego.

5 The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

A compelling history of the HeLa cell, the most widely used cell in human research and vaccine development. It covers a history of the woman the cells came from (without her knowledge).

6 Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell

An interesting discussion of whether decisions made using intuition rather than a long thought process are better decisions in the long run.

7 The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls

8 Half Broke Horses: A True Life Novel by Jeannette Walls

Both of these books provide awesome histories of the trials of the author's very dysfunctional family. They focus on how all of the generations managed to survive and become normal adults.

9 The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption by Jim Gorant.

This book provides disturbing and heartwarming facts about the pit bulls owned by convicted football player Michael Vick—and what happened to all 51 of them.

Dr. Scott Anderson, DACVS, DACVECC, DABVP, is co-owner of Animal Specialty and Emergency Centers in West Los Angeles. He is a graduate of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine.

10 Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Goodwin

Marvelously illuminates our 16th president's acumen for consensus building, handling people and capitalizing on the strengths of others.

11 The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World by Bjorn Lomborg

12 Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming by Bjorn Lomborg

Both of these books are informative, dispassionate counterpoints to the environmental doomsayers.

13 Aesop: The Complete Fables translation by Olivia & Robert Temple

These are not your bowdlerized, sanitized childhood morality tales. The originals give a marvelously cold-blooded glimpse of ancient Greek society and ethics, underscoring human nature that has not changed in the 2,500 years since these were written.

14 The 75 Greatest Management Decisions Ever Made by Stuart Crainer

Concise, illuminating and a quick read.

15 Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician by Anthony Everitt

Arguably history's greatest orator, if judged by his rise from obscurity to the job of Roman consul through his gift for speech.

Dr. Beth Davidow, DACVECC, is co-owner and medical director of Animal Critical Care and Emergency Services in Seattle, Wash. She is a graduate of the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

16 Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Dan and Chip Heath

17 Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Dan and Chip Heath

Made to Stick is about how to get your message across within your business and how to use these same concepts in designing marketing campaigns. Switch is about change and how to implement it in ways that ensure success.

18 Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman

Our entire management team read the book, and we have now used the suggested format to create our one-, five- and 10-year plans as well as workable quarterly "rocks."

Tom McFerson, CPA, ABV, is a partner in Gatto McFerson CPAs, a financial consulting, management and appraisal firm in Santa Monica, Calif., specializing in the veterinary industry. He is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University.

19 Why We Make Mistakes: How We Look Without Seeing, Forget Things in Seconds and Are All Pretty Sure We Are Way Above Average by Joseph Hallinan

Along with Blink, this book studies how we make decisions. What are the qualities that make us so error-prone? Why do we "look" but don't often "see?" And why are we so slow to grasp our own limitations?

20 End this Depression Now! by Paul Krugman

You may not agree with the author (winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Economics)—in fact, you may even despise him—but he does have a talent for getting people's attention on the economy.

21 Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Typically, anything on Oprah's Book List will not be on Tom's Book List, but this one was different. Given to me by my wife, the book follows a shattered woman as she tries to pull her life back together, all while negotiating a solo, 1,000-mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail.

22 The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail—but Some Don't by Nate Silver

You've probably read about this political blogger. His data on the 2012 elections was the subject of much controversy—but ultimately was proven to be correct. The book goes beyond politics and analyzes the world of statistics and the art of making predictions.

23 Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

Life is all about competition and some of us are better at it than others. Why do some rise to the occasion, but others do not? This book will help you become a better competitor.

24 Epic: John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg and the Greatest Tennis Season Ever by Matthew Cronin

This book list needs at least one sports-themed book, right? Even a passing fan of tennis remembers the great McEnroe-Borg Wimbledon final of 1980. Written by one of the best tennis reporters in the business, the book relives this match and all of its ramifications.

Tom McFerson, CPA, ABV, is a partner Gatto McFerson CPAs, a financial consulting firm in Santa Monica, Calif.

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