Verbatim Column

What’s the best book you’ve read that helped you in life and business?

Is your reading list chock-full or anemic? Here’s your chance to add some new or perhaps familiar books for your future exploration. From across the country, our colleagues have shared their top choices in answer to this month’s question. Borrowed from a familiar “Heard on the Street” format, we offered our responders a chance to reply via e-mail allowing them to be thoughtful, bold, and direct. What you are reading here are their personal opinions, in BPN’s newest column VERBATIM.

As I read the responses, I found myself adding books to my own reading list based on the descriptions or passion for the selection. You’ll notice three books were chosen by more than one responder. And, in the case of a couple choices, only the title is necessary to convey the impact of the book on the reader.



The book I kept coming back to when I found myself in charge of a propane company (that I didn’t know how to run) after my husband’s passing and today as well, is a little book called, Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson.

If you are not familiar with the book, it’s about mice in a maze who received their meals in the same place every day. One day the cheese was gone. While some mice decided to go out and find food to survive, others stayed put, afraid to change and HOPED things would go back to normal – they didn’t and those mice starved!!

In September of 2010 my whole world changed. Life as I knew it was gone in 24 hours. Today with the “electrify everything” push, although I will fight to the end for my industry and the value of our energy…the train is coming. I can stand in stubborn defiance or start using another track!!

Judy Taranovich

Proctor Gas

Proctor, Vermont


It may be a bit of a cliché, but I have read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie multiple times.

One lesson I always enjoyed was from one of his dinner parties where a famous man told a story to his guests that quoted a Bible verse. Dale recognized the quote and knew it was actually from Shakespeare. So he tried to correct his guest. Dale asked his friend, a Shakespeare expert, to back him up.  His friend did not back him up, rather, he agreed with the host and said, “It’s from the Bible.” Even though his friend knew it was not from the Bible, the point he made to Dale Carnegie afterward was, “Why prove to a man he is wrong? Is that going to make him like you?…He didn’t ask for your opinion. Why argue with him?”

John Jessup

NC Propane Gas Association

Raleigh, North Carolina


The Confidence Effect by Grace Killelea. Her book had a substantial impact on my ability to let go of perfection and instead focus on progress. The Confidence Effect offered tips and tools centered around a recipe for success in all areas of life. I was fortunate enough to meet her in person at a company event where she spoke for an hour and I was entirely captivated. Her leadership inspires change. Grace’s book, and meeting her in person, was definitely a game changer for me.

Hayley Karicofe


Churchville, Virginia


How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie is the book that has helped me most throughout my adult life and career. In fact, it’s packed with so many insightful principles, I’ve re-read it many times. Always finding something newly relevant at that specific time and place along my life’s path. I believe that Mr. Carnegie’s #1 most impactful message conveyed is; if you are honest, genuine, and sincere when relating to people you will find success in both business and personal relationships. It’s such a great book that my practice has been to read it (again) then give it away to someone I care for!

Milissa Lord

A.R.M. Solutions

Towanda, Pennsylvania



Leadership and Self-Deception. I’ve read it, and re-read it. I’ve loaned my copy out and I’ve bought friends, family and colleagues their own copy.

Lauren Clark

Bergquist, Inc.

Toledo, Ohio


If I had to pick just one that has helped the most in life and business it would be the Holy Bible.

Jim Zuck

Marshall Excelsior

Marshall, Michigan


First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. The book really dispels the myth that people should fix their weaknesses to be more proficient in their work. The authors reason that people should hone their strengths and mitigate their weaknesses instead. Furthermore, teams should be built with people of complementary strengths and weaknesses. Their research is based on thousands of interviewers with managers conducted by the Gallup organization.

Don Montroy

Bergquist, Inc. 

Rockford, Michigan


Relentless by Tim Grover is one of the best books I have read. This book effectively explains the best path to succeed at anything in life, personal or business. Relentless is not about motivation and shows no sympathy, but rather discusses the idea of being uncomfortable, and demanding more of yourself than anyone else ever could. Relentless has unique concepts and thought provoking questions that will change how you take responsibility for everything in your life.

Jennifer Jackson


Noblesville, Indiana


Two books–the Bible for life and pamphlet 58 for business, which also has been referred to as the Bible of our industry.

Gary France

France Propane Service

Schofield, Wisconsin


I have to split my answer between Business and Personal.  Easily the best business book I have ever read, re-read and used in my business is The Goal by Eli Goldratt. It is the most ‘common-sense’ business book I have ever read.  Most business books are a sure recipe for a nap on an airplane, this one is engaging and written in a manner where you actually want to get to the next page.

Dinner with a Perfect Stranger by David Gregory is my favorite personal book of late.  Short but very powerful.

Tracy Timmerman


Salem, Illinois


The teachings in the Bible were an important part of my life growing up. In 1978, the Handbook to Higher Consciousness by Ken Keyes, Jr. introduced me to the possibility of “living in the moment” through the practice of self-awareness and thought control. As Carl Spackler (Bill Murray) said in Caddyshack, “…so I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.”

Bruce Swiecicki

NPGA (National Propane Gas Association)

Tinley Park, Illinois


The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt. The main character is a plant manager who overcomes many obstacles by learning new ways to solve problems at work and at home.

Jason Soulon

Westmor Industries

Shawnee, Kansas


The Bible.

Dan Binning

Colorado and New Mexico Propane Gas Associations

Arvada, Colorado


The Book of Mormon.

Brad Duncan

All Around Propane

Fruitland, New Mexico





Louder Than Words by Joe Navarro, retired FBI agent.

It’s a quick read on body language and nonverbal intelligence. Enjoy!

Julie Johnson

Ted Johnson Propane Co.

Baldwin Park, California


I’ve read several time management, planning and team books for business plus it was very helpful in my personal life. All these help to organize each operation unit to work together for the common goal of serving our customers.

John Kamps

Kamps Propane

Manteca, California


The Holy Bible.   It’s a Christian’s guide for “Faith and Practice. “

Chuck Kinnie

Shasta Gas Propane

Palo Cedro, California





What we read when we want to focus on improving our lives and our success in business are sometimes different titles than what we may read on a relaxing vacation. It’s always been my view that seeking information, knowledge, and wisdom is a sure sign of personal strength. By reading volumes as those suggested above, we stand to develop our personal and professional growth. Reading something challenging is a worthwhile exercise…and I still want to have a copy of an engrossing novel at hand for those escapes that help us rejuvenate and uplift our spirits.


The more that you read, the more things you will know.

The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go…

–Dr. Seuss



Nancy Coop, Cetane Associates

This column was first published in the April 2020 issue of Butane-Propane News.

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