One of the items on my current to-do list was to create a recommended reading list for my colleagues. I’m a part of a high performing team (I don’t dole out compliments like this; we consistently beat our numbers and we have no interpersonal drama, which combined is a monumental achievement), and twice a year or so we go through our so-called ‘Group Norms’ in order to ensure we are all on the same page, and we properly integrate newcomers and keep the bar high. It has been a brilliant strategy for us to maintain ‘synergy,’ a buzz word I hate but a concept that is integral to consistent performance. On top of that, I am the team bookworm weirdo, and I am fairly sure they did not expect this long of a list. But I want to ‘keep it 100,’ as the young people say.
I think it’s safe to say I’m obsessed with reading. I spent three years of my life in a ‘good school’, Boston University. Otherwise, I don’t consider myself well educated in the way a lot of people mean it. I am well self-educated, and my glory years at a private college were wedged between primary education at a crap public high school in upstate New York and a tediously boring online MBA program I completed as quickly as possible (7 months) to stave off prolonged torture. Watching paint dry is more interesting than getting an MBA. If given the option of doing it again or a shotgun shell to the knee cap, I might honestly choose the latter.
I read all kinds of books. One category of many is what I guess you’d loosely call ‘business books’. I’d venture to call some of them ‘self help’ books (aren’t all books self help books? Books help you to learn, by yourself). Mostly they are books about being a part of the world and functioning in different segments of society.
In any case, below is the list I posted for my team. I left off the few I read that were wholly unimpressive. Most of these are very good, some are better than others.
Top 10 with asterisks.
- Thinking Fast & Slow by Daniel Kahneman*
- The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds by Michael Lewis
- Micromotives and Macrobehavior by Thomas Schelling*
- The Art of Doing: How Superachievers Do What They Do and How They do it so Well by Camille Sweeney, Josh Gosfield
- Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets by Nassim Taleb
- All Taleb’s stuff is great except for his most recent. His best are The Black Swan and Antifragile*.
- Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives our Success by Adam Grant*
- Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics by Richard Thaler
- Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness by Richard Thaler
- Who Owns the Future? by Jaron Lanier
- The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg*
- Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman
- How We Know What Isn’t So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life by Thomas Gilovich
- Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by Roy Baumeister
- Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion by Paul Bloom*
- Naked Statistics & Naked Economics by Charles Wheelan
- Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction by Philip E. Tetlock
- To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel Pink
- How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness by Russ Roberts
- The Upside of Your Dark Side by Todd Kashdan*
- Curious? Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life by Todd Kashdan*
- The Signal and the Noise: Why so many Predictions Fail… but some don’t by Nate Silver
- The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less by Barry Schwartz
- Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing by Jamie Holmes
- Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions by Brian Christian & Tom Griffiths
- Location is (Still) Everything: The Surprising Influence of the Real World on How We Search, Shop, and Sell in the Virtual One by David R. Bell
- The Social Animal: Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement by David Brooks
- The Road to Character by David Brooks* (this one is slightly more interesting)
- Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and less from Eachother by Sherry Turkle
- The Power of Why: Breaking Out in a Competitive Marketplace by C. Richard Weylman
- The Power of Persuasion: How We’re Bought and Sold by Robert Levine
- Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economies by Cesar Hidalgo
- Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retain Your Brain by Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner
- The original Freakonomics was also pretty good.
- Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future by Johan Norberg
- The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded Americans is Tearing Us Apart by Bill Bishop*
If you’re ambling around here and think I’ve missed one (or ten, or fifty), leave them in my comments.