Wednesday, March 6, 2013


So, I don't read YA lit all the time, you guys. I venture, quite frequently actually, into nonfiction. I wanted to review this book on Enjoy A Book because I feel like a lot of the ideas in here are applicable to my main cause: literacy and the love of reading. So the ideas that I mention below are from To Sell Is Human, but are remarkably transformative when you think about them in terms of reading, getting someone to read, or really--selling reading. This book really pointed out some fabulous things about living and working in today's world. It's a world of sales! Not too surprising, when you think about it, as practically all of us do things to get other people to buy into what we've got, but this book presents some memorable ideas.

Section 1
This book was divided into 3 parts: "Rebirth of a Salesman", "How to Be" and "How to Do". The first section, "Rebirth of a Salesman", took me the longest to get through, because early on I bought into the idea that we are all in sales of one kind or another, so I felt like this section spent a little too much time trying to sell the reader on that idea. However, he did effectively point out that sales are different nowadays--not only because everyone from teachers to medical professionals are "selling", but because everyone has access to information that affect the sale, where previously only few had that information (information asymmetry).

 One other thing in this section I found valuable was the idea of "moving people." The author interviews Ferlazzo, an educator, who helps brings to light a crucial  aspect of present day sales, "The challenge is that to move people a large distance and for the long term, we have to create the conditions where they can move themselves." He also shares another gem: "It means trying to elicit from people what their goals are for themselves and having the flexibility to frame what we do in that context." Ferlazzo then goes on to use this genius concept to move one of his students to write essays, when the student had never written one before in many years of schooling. This is where the power of this book lies for me: in the idea of moving people--using their own goals and interests and framing/creating conditions or a context for them to move themselves. In this idea, "selling" someone can lead to them moving themselves. How important is this in reading?! You don't want reading to be a one-time sale, but rather a sale that starts them moving in a permanent, literate direction!

Section 2
"How to Be" had a number of valuable ideas. Part of the value of this book is when the author provides "sample cases" after each chapter on how to apply those concepts. There's a ton of great stuff in there too, but for sake of brevity and because you'll get more out of it if you read the book for yourself, I only want to highlight some of the ideas he presents, especially the ones that apply to reading and literacy. Here's a few for you:

Perspective-takers do better. Use this when you're selling reading by understanding what that person's interests are, and cater your reading suggestions to them. They're more likely to enjoy reading and come back for more.

Interrogative self talk (asking questions) is the most effective. The author framed this in the context of making a sale or getting ready for a pitch, but I found the other way to be the most useful: in terms of evaluating yourself. This is a great reading strategy for comprehension. I suppose if you want to stretch it to apply to buoyancy (like it was in the book), then you could say that it would help a reader keep going if they're struggling with a text. This interrogative self-talk is especially useful, like the book points out, because it gives the person using it reasons or ways to complete things, rather than momentary, fleeting statements of positive or negative self-talk.

Positive emotions broaden perspectives, lead to creativity, and can be contagious!So while this might apply more tangentially to the selling of reading, I believe that all of those things still play a part in a good reading experience. I felt like this idea was one of the best in this chapter.

The "mindset" idea applies to sales too! Ok, so the author didn't label it as "mindset" or use those terms, but have you read that book? Basically the idea is to not think of things in a "fixed" mindset--because then you'll have a hard time dealing with failures and will usually see yourself and other things as set, or permanent. A "growth" mindset is better because you can deal with setbacks, learn, and become better. Very applicable to sales, because everyone faces rejection and failure. So don't take things personally. If you're reading a book you don't like, it's ok to move on and not get hung up on finishing it. Or if you're struggling with reading, you need to be able to struggle (lots of good readers face text that challenges them!) and progress.

Don't worry, I know how to count to 3! Come back tomorrow for the second and final part of this post! Some great gems of ideas for selling reading! 

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