Top Book Recommendations List: 8 Thought-Provoking Reads
Every year I create a top book recommendations list from some of my favorite entrepreneurs and business leaders.
This year I asked, “What’s your top book recommendation for a title that impacted your way of thinking or mindset about something?”
Here’s a list based on their responses. Make sure to bookmark this page to use as a guide for your reading throughout 2022.
The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis
Anchored in the 30-plus-year friendship of Nobel Prize winners Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, this book packs far more than an intellectual punch. Beyond its main characters’ contributions to the sciences of behavioral economics, cognitive biases, and mental heuristics, emotions shine through.
Without spoiling the ending, The Undoing Project’s two final chapters had me in tears. Not only did it fundamentally shape the way I think about everything — from motivation to marketing — its thoroughly human storyline keeps me rereading it year after year.
Aaron Orendorff, VP of Marketing at Common Thread Collective
Stop Asking Questions by Andrew Warner
I’ve always thought that one thing most podcast hosts get wrong is that they treat interviews like one-way streets. In Stop Asking Questions, long-time podcast host Andrew Warner gives you the playbook to graduating from stiff interviews to rich conversations. He offers guidance on how to establish trust with your guests, how to listen more effectively, and how to structure your prompts to yield more meaningful answers.
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My favorite insight: Shoved facts. These are small clues or descriptions people often say in everyday speech. (Think: “Sorry I’m late for dinner. Traffic was worse than I expected, and life has been hectic since I started my new job.” The shoved fact is the new job!) Unintentionally or not, people pepper their conversation with these facts, and it’s a missed opportunity for you, the host, not to follow up on them.
This book doesn’t just apply to podcast hosts. You can use the learnings to level up your day-to-day conversations.
Amanda Natividad, Marketing Architect at SparkToro
The Antidote by Oliver Burkeman
As a cynic I am constantly struggling with the existential dread that follows marketing – why do we even do what we do? The Antidote helped me reframe this and other professional anxieties. Burkeman explores the many ways we try to find meaning and understand happiness but grounds itself in negative capability – the notion that if we learn to thrive in uncertainty, enjoying the journey not pursuing the destination, happiness won’t be overlooked while it happens.
Santi Pochat, Head of the Social Lab at Google
A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman
I’d say this one book for me is ‘A Man Called Ove’ by Fredrick Backman, for a lot of reasons. But if I had to put my finger on just one thing, it’s the idea of all of us being time optimists. We always think we have a lot of time left to do the things or say the things we want to. But it’s too late by the time we realise we’ve reached our end. Here’s a wonderful snippet from the book:
“All people at root are time optimists. We always think there’s enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like ‘if’.”
Akshaya Chandramouli, Host of the Newsletter Nerd Show
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
The book showcases the parts of our brain and how by focusing our efforts we can tap into the strengths of our system 1 (fast, instinctive) and system 2 (slow, logical) modes of thinking.
Christina Garnett; Senior Marketing Manager, Offline Community and Advocacy; HubSpot
Good Reasons for Bad Feelings by Randolph Nesse
Once or twice a decade, you’ll come across a passage in a book that fundamentally changes your view of life. Instead of saying anything more about Good Reasons for Bad Feelings by Randolph Nesse, I will leave you with one such passage from the book:
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“All organisms are shaped to behave in ways that increase fitness even if that decreases health and happiness. Did you ever desperately want to have sex with someone even though you knew that could lead to disaster? Most people have, with sometimes dire consequences. Then there are the rest of our desires and the inevitable suffering because they cannot all be fulfilled. We want so badly to be important, rich, loved, admired, attractive, and powerful. For what? the good feelings from succeeding are just about balanced by the bad feelings from failure. Our emotions benefit our genes far more than they do us.”
Zain Kahn, Marketing Executive for Startups
Billion Dollar Loser by Reeves Wiedeman
This year I read Billion Dollar Loser by Reeves Wiedeman. It’s about the epic rise and spectacular fall of Adam Neumann and WeWork. I was hooked, I couldn’t put it down and I give it a 5/5 rating! Investigative journalist books, especially ones that dig deep into startups, are my favourite kind of book genre and this was one of the best reads. It’s fascinating to know what builds and breaks a startup, diving into a company culture’s downfall and founders’ power struggle. Other books similar in genre that I enjoyed reading this year include Hatching Twitter by Nick Bilton and Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber by Mike Isaac.”
Areej AbuAli, Founder of Women in Tech SEO
I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time by Laura Vanderkam
Very rarely have I seen an explanation of how a woman can have it all. Can we have a great relationship, be great parents, and have a successful career? In this book, Laura Vanderkam debunks the myth that we all have the same 24 hours and shares the schedules of how different women accomplish a fulfilled life in 168 hours, aka a week. This perspective helped me organize my life differently. Yes, it was about time management but not just to work more. It helped me make the shift to enjoying life and working smarter.