This year’s ten best business books offer everything from ways to protect democracy to ways to approach personal development.
You may not read a book per week like most CEOs claim to, but it’s always worth adding a couple of outstanding business books to your reading list. Whether you want to learn a new skill or gain new insights and perspectives into today’s most intractable issues, I’ve got you covered.
Here are a few of my favorite business books that you should consider reading in 2019.
#1. The Infinite Game, by Simon Sinek
Due to be released in June, Simon Sinek’s The Infinite Game turns everything you think you know about the business world on its head. Sinek argues that business leaders need to adopt an open-playbook strategy because, ultimately, they are competing against the best version of themselves. According to Wall Street and popular sentiment, business is a zero-sum game where someone wins and someone loses. But Sinek’s highly anticipated book shows that business is best approached as a ‘ceaseless endeavor’ where the rules, participants and even the playing field itself are in a state of
#2. Jumpstarting America: How Breakthrough Science Can Revive Economic Growth and the American Dream, by Jonathan Gruber and Simon Johnson
Due out in April, Jumpstarting America asks us to revisit the playbook last used by the U.S. government during the 1940s, when government R&D investment began producing numerous science and technology breakthroughs. Unlike today’s worlds where multinationals such as Amazon expand into already prosperous enclaves, leaving other parts of the country struggling, in the 1940s, government investment benefited everyone. MIT economists Gruber and Johnson believe it’s time to revisit that era.
#3. Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader's Guide to the Real World, by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall
Due to be released in April, Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall’s new book aims to debunk some of the most established aspects of conventional management wisdom from the so-called ‘work/life balance’ to whether or not ‘leadership’ actually exists. Buckingham, famous for his positive approach to personal development, argues that dogma is a straitjacket that must be slipped off by freethinking leaders. Ultimately, workplaces are groups of individuals working together in “glorious messiness,” write the authors. If you’re ready to embrace reality, this is the book for you.
#4. Eye Contact: The Power of Personal Connection, by Brian Grazer
This April, Brian Grazer, the Oscar-winning screenwriter behind hits such as A Beautiful Mind, invites you to seek connections in conversations and shun your phone’s screen. The book is filled with insights into celebrity encounters, including Kate Moss and Bill Gates, among others. Grazer’s premise is that the outcome of every interaction is profoundly influenced by eye contact. This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to positively change their life and influence those around them.
#5. Coders: The Making of a New Art and the Remaking of the World, by Clive Thompson
Clive Thompson’s foray into the world of coding is due to hit the bookshelves this March and offers a fascinating insight into the titans of tech. As an acclaimed writer for Wired and The New York Times Magazine, Thompson masterfully condenses the cultural, historical and psychological nuances of bug-battling programmers into dazzling, must-read copy. Besides considering what beautiful code looks like (Thompson does some programming himself during the course of the book), Coders also ponders the moral issues raised by the ever-growing power held by programmers.
#6. Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries, by Safi Bahcall
According to Safi Bahcall, a physicist, and entrepreneur, disruptive thinking is behind every big breakthrough, from the advent of the internet to the development of vaccines. Bahcall presents a number of cases where an idea was initially ignored for being so audacious, yet gradually gained acceptance through a process called ‘phase transition’, a scientific principle comparable to water turning into steam. Bahcall’s book explains how organizations can benefit from their disruptive darlings without killing them off.
#7. Zucked: The Education of an Unlikely Activist, by Roger McNamee
As one of Mark Zuckerberg’s earliest mentors and one of Facebook’s earliest investors, Roger McNamee is well placed to provide an insider’s account of how Facebook caused vast societal damage over the past couple of years. After trying and failing to persuade Facebook’s management to mount a response the revelations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, McNamee has become a vocal critic of the social network’s technology, culture, and business model. Zucked is compulsory reading for anyone who wants to know what it will take to protect democracy.
#8. Possible Minds: 25 Ways of Looking at AI, by John Brockman (editor)
Will artificial intelligence lead to a utopian or a dystopian future? That’s the question that Possible Minds tries to answer with a collection of short pieces by 25 of the smartest thinkers alive. Edge.org’s founder, John Brockman, masterfully edits the copy submitted by the contributors, who include roboticist Rodney Brooks and Nobel Prize-winning physicist Frank Wilczek. Due for release next month, this book explores whether AI will enhance humans or render them obsolete. The opinions of today’s biggest brains offer valuable insights for anyone concerned about the implications of AI.
#9. Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders? (And How to Fix It), by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic
Many organizations argue that to advance more female leaders, standards would inevitably suffer. This March, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic aims to debunk this theory will a slew of evidence that shows quite the opposite. While traditional masculine traits such as overconfidence and self-absorption are often interpreted as strength and charisma, woman actually outperform men in leadership roles, says Chamorro-Premusiz, a professor of business psychology. This book offers ways that businesses can fix the problem of women being underrepresented in leadership roles, such as by focusing on raising standards for men.
#10. The Prosperity Paradox, by Clayton Christensen, Karen Dillon, and Efosa Ojomo
It seems counterintuitive, but what if creating new markets in developing nations was the way to lift up the economies of developing nations too? That’s the solution put forward in The Prosperity Paradox. Christensen, Dillon, and Ojomo argue that ‘market-creating innovations’ will help to create jobs, profits and increased consumer access. Once profits are reinvested into public services and infrastructure, this will produce a cultural change that can lift up developed countries as well. Released this month, The Prosperity Paradox offers an answer to one of mankind’s most intractable problems: poverty.
Out of the ten business books that I recommend this year, there’s bound to be one on my list that tempts your fancy. From driving profits to increasing equality and even solving global issues, these books have something for everyone. Which one will you choose?