Recently I was having an email conversation with someone about reading more books in spite of the proliferation of video for the dissemination of information these days. We both agreed that there is still some really good “learning” to be had from reading good old-fashioned books — whether we read them on an electronic device or from good old paper and ink.

And the question came up about finding the time to read and how difficult that can be with the busy lives we lead.

When I was younger my mother used to have to bodily pull me out of bed in the mornings to get me off to school, so I am not an early riser by nature. But I somehow have trained myself to get up very early every day — even weekends — and spend that time between about 5:00 am and 7:00 am reading and spending time in quiet reflection.

Try getting up earlier to see if you can make the time for more reading of helpful business books. Leave the fun stuff — the trashy novels — for evenings and your off time. (And I do love me some trashy novels!!)

So if one of your new year’s resolutions is to read more this coming year, I offer the following suggestions — 12 of them, one for each month — for some business and marketing books that I have found to be most valuable and helpful to me. Of course, there will be great new titles that come out this year as well so keep your eyes peeled for those.

Unmarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging. by Scott Stratten. Hands down, this is my current favorite marketing book and a must-read if you’re planning to do any social media marketing this year. The landscape of business-customer relationships has changed, and UnMarketing gives you innovative ways out of the old so-called “Push and Pray” rut, instead, teaching you how to attract the right customers to you through listening and engagement, enabling you to build trust and position yourself as their logical choice when they need you.

NOTE: Be sure you get the updated and revised edition, which includes new information on building relationships through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+. UnMarketing supplies you with a winning approach to stop ineffective marketing and put relationships first — then reap the long-term, high-quality growth that follows. What he teaches here is exactly what my Stay-in-Touch Marketing teaching is all about — building relationships first in order to build a sustaining business.

The Book of Business Awesome/The Book of Business UnAwesome also by Scott Stratten. The Book of Business Awesome is designed as two short books put together — one read from the front and the other read from the back when flipped over. (I highly recommend getting the print version of this for nothing more than the fun of flipping the book over, but the e-version is just as good if not quite as much physical fun.) It covers key business concepts related to marketing, branding, human resources, public relations, social media, and customer service, featuring case studies of successful businesses that gained exposure through being awesome and effective.

The flip side of the book, The Book of Business UnAwesome, shares the train-wreck stories of unsuccessful businesses and showcases what not to do. Perhaps it is just indicative of my perverted nature, but I loved reading this half of the book the most. Lots of fun!

Brag: The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It by Peggy Klaus. An oldie but a goodie. This book has been around for awhile but its message about how to promote yourself and your business is timeless and should be read by every business marketer. It teaches you a subtle but effective plan for selling your best asset — yourself — without turning off those you’re trying to impress.

7 Graces of Marketing: How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell by Lynn Serafinn. (This is a book I intend to read again this year and came recommended to me by my friend Linda Storey.) As a soul proprietor, this book moved me to re-think my whole approach to business and marketing. I had the luxury of reading this while on a “camping” trip and while in my relaxed state, I was really able to really hear what she was saying.

“Is marketing making us ill?” is the question marketer and coach Lynn Serafinn poses in this eye-opening, informative and inspiring read. It is a holistic, bold, and often spiritual examination not merely of the world of marketing, but also of our entire world view. It reveals how our relationships with Self, others, our businesses, our economy and the Earth impact every aspect of our lives. Addressing both the conscious and unconscious mechanics of marketing, Lynn shows the impact that consumer culture has upon our health, our economy and the delicate ecological balance of our natural world. Every Coach who worries about marketing their practice should read this book!

Click: Ten Truths for Building Extraordinary Relationships by George C. Fraser. If the thought of business networking makes you cringe then you should most definitely read this book. Here you’ll find ten simple principles that will dispel your dread of networking forever and reveal a proven path to success. Click provides the tools to tap into the richest resource on the planet — other people — no matter how hard it has been for you to do so in the past.

Since I’ve started doing more networking now that we live in a home without wheels, this book has become my go-to resource for networking advice.

The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing: Grow Your List, Break the Rules, and Win by D.J. Waldow and Jason Falls. This is my favorite book on email marketing. It’s a no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners plan for earning positive return on your email marketing! Whether you’re B2B or B2C, Fortune 500 or startup, this is a complete plan for transforming your email marketing. Discover radically better ways to handle every facet of your campaign: lists, ‘from’ names, subject lines, calls to action, social network integration…everything!

The Entrepreneur’s Trap: How to Stop Working Too Much, Take Back Your Time and Enjoy Life by Tina Forsyth. Tina has lived the trap she describes and she’s just plain fun to read, too. She connects with you like no other business author I’ve read.

So, if you started your business with the dream of making more money, having more time, more fun, and more balance in your life, but have discovered that the reality is just the opposite, then this book is for you. Tina gives tips and teaches the structure you need to make your business fun again.

Web Copy That Sells: The Revolutionary Formula for Creating Killer Copy That Grabs Their Attention and Compels Them to Buy by Maria Veloso. If you have any interest in making your website work as hard as you do, this book is for you. When it comes to copy, what works in the brick-and-mortar world does not necessarily grab Web consumers. And with new developments like social networks, blogs, and YouTube, the strategies that worked even a few years ago, are unlikely to grab people’s attention today.

This book has been completely updated for the current online marketplace and will give you proven methods for achieving phenomenal success with your online sales and marketing efforts. It features updated strategies for communicating and selling in the continually evolving landscape of Web 2.0 and beyond, and this book unlocks the secret to turning today’s online prospects into paying customers! (Be sure you get the updated second edition.)

My plan is to re-read this book and re-work and update my website this spring, taking to heart everything Maria teaches.

Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking by Andy Sernovitz. This one has been around awhile, too, but one I keep coming back to. With straightforward advice and humor, word of mouth expert Andy Sernovitz shows you how the world’s most respected and profitable companies get their best customers for free through the power of word of mouth. You’ll learn the five essential steps that make word of mouth work and everything you need to get started. Andy will help you understand how easy it is to work with social media, viral marketing, evangelists, and buzz by using simple techniques that start conversations and keep them going.

Speak More: Marketing Strategies to Get More Speaking Business by the National Speaker’s Association. Even if you don’t plan to make your living on the speaking circuit, this book still contains great advice if you’re out there speaking to bring you more business (and I think you should be). Speak More! is tailored for keynote speakers, consultants, coaches, trainers, authors, and anyone seeking to expand the reach of their message. Many of the proven methods require little or no monetary investment, yet they provide big payoffs, including increased revenues and opportunities to speak more!

People Buy You: The Real Secret To What Matters Most in Business by Jeb Blount. I picked this book up in the Dallas Airport and read most of it before arriving at my final destination. I love this book! It reinforces what I teach about business being all about people dealing with other people. If you want to know the real secret to what matters most in business, just look in the mirror. That’s right, it’s YOU. When all things are equal (and in the competitive world we live in today, things almost always are) People Buy You. Your ability to build lasting business relationships that allow you to close more sales, retain clients, increase your income, and grow your business, depends on your skills for getting other people to like you, trust you, and BUY YOU and Jeb tells you how to make all that happen.

Screw Work, Let’s Play: How to Do What You Love and Get Paid For It by John Williams. I read this book this past summer while floating around in my pool. It just seemed like the appropriate place to read a book with a title like this.

We’ve reached a remarkable point in the history of work. With the right guidance, it’s now possible for anyone to make a living from doing the things they love. Written by a career maverick who escaped corporate life, Screw Work, Let’s Play is your blueprint to create a work-life full of fun, freedom and creativity; something more like play than work. It’s packed full of stories from people who turned their passion into their living — or sometimes created even a million dollar business. You’ll discover 10 secrets to transform your working life. Grab this book and jump in the pool.

In honor of 2013, here’s a 13th Bonus Suggestion: For all you right-brainers out there who find it hard to make business and marketing plans, then check out The Right Brain Business Plan: A Creative Visual Map for Success by Jennifer Lee. As a right-brain thinker trying to make it in a left-brain world, this book and program has become my salvation. (I even got licensed to teach it.)

Do you dream of making a living doing what you love but find the process of creating a viable business plan like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole? Jennifer Lee knows what it’s like to make the entrepreneurial leap — and how to do it successfully. The key is using — rather than stifling — your your imagination and intuition. The illustrated, colorful worksheets and step-by-step instructions are playful yet practical, transforming drudgery into joy. This will enable you to define your vision and nail down plans for your funding, marketing, networking, and long-term strategies.

Along with the book, I strongly suggest you get her business planning kit, too, so you can jump right in and do the exercises in a fun and creative way.

So there you have it. 13 great business books that, if read and followed, can transform your business into something spectacular in 2013.

If you have your own favorite business books, please share them with me in the comments section below. I love hearing about something I may not be familiar with and I always enjoy when a friend or colleague can recommend a good one.

Oh, and just so you know, along with my own commentary, some of the descriptions of the books above come partially from the publisher’s release notes about the books.