In early December 2020, we started featuring a briefing on a new book about work or management every week. We’ve now covered 41 books, having read more than 10,000 pages.
With the holiday season approaching, here are our recommendations and takeaways:
Best gifts for colleagues and friends:
- Did That Just Happen?! by Dr. Stephanie Pinder-Amaker and Dr. Lauren Wadsworth—The detailed playbook for anti-racist, inclusive workplace practices that so many of us need. Chapter eight especially should be read by every leader. (You can watch a workshop with the co-authors from our recent Workplace Summit.)
- Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman—This creative book cautions against obsessing over productivity and time management, though ultimately does include useful tips for getting things done. Among them: restrict your main to-do list to 10 items to force yourself to confront the tough choices about how you use your time.
- Just Work by Kim Scott—Anecdotes and practices from this book stuck with us for weeks afterward, including Scott’s arguments for writing 600-word codes of conduct and for disclosing everyone’s salaries to their colleagues. (You can watch a session with Scott from the Workplace Summit.)
- Think Again by Adam Grant—This is a highly readable, convincing guide on how to reassess our opinions and get more things right, avoiding the human tendency to hang on to old assumptions even when they’re wrong.
- Beyond Collaboration Overload by Rob Cross—Cross offers a timely caution against overdoing the connection and communication that are hallmarks of modern workplaces, including tactics like cutting time allotted for meetings in half and discouraging replies to emails.
- Power, for All by Julie Battilana and Tiziana Casciaro—The two business school professor authors do an impressive job of providing a simple structure for thinking about how power works and encouragingly suggest that it’s possible to exercise it for good. To determine who really has power in an organization, they recommend asking, “Who do people go to for advice?”
- Masters of Scale by Reid Hoffman with June Cohen and Deron Triff—Stemming from a popular business podcast by the same name, this book offers distilled lessons and memorable stories from dozens of companies. It’s largely uncritical of the founders, but is an entertaining, thought-provoking read.
- The Exponential Age by Azeem Azhar—This provides a very clear explanation of why it’s hard for humans to understand exponential change and how that’s a major blindspot at this unique moment when technologies are advancing exponentially and institutions are adapting much more slowly.
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Best gifts for a recent graduate or someone just starting out:
- The Long Game by Dorie Clark—This breezily presents very common sense advice about careers and business. Among Clark’s recommendations: adopt the “20% time” approach popularized by Google and devote that portion of your time to exploring new areas.
- Unapologetically Ambitious by Shellye Archambeau—This is a compelling, unflinching story of the career of someone with unusual self assurance, organization, and drive looking to share the key factors behind her success.
- Futureproof by Kevin Roose—Make sure to not skip the five-page appendix, where Roose shares his own goals based on the book’s nine rules for being happy and successful amid the spread of automation. The goals are very thoughtful and specific.
Most-read book briefings on our site this year:
- Leading at a Distance by James M. Citrin and Darleen DeRosa
- Did That Just Happen?! by Dr. Stephanie Pinder-Amaker and Dr. Lauren Wadsworth
- Think Again by Adam Grant
- Forty-seven percent of the books we covered over the past five months were written by a female author (down slightly from 50% during the previous six months), and 29% had a BIPOC author (up from 21%.) We track these statistics to be sure we’re featuring books from writers of diverse backgrounds, and are continually looking to increase them.
- We’ve earned $189.12 in Amazon referral fees this year when readers purchased books after clicking on links in the email. We earned $35.60 in referral fees from Bookshop.org. We appreciate the support!
We’re interested in hearing what your favorite books are to recommend. Please reply to this email with any suggestions.