Everyone from Stanford University and TED to The New York Times and Amazon has a list of “must-read” books for summer. Since you can’t possibly read them all, here’s a selection of books on subjects as varied as how to be a more effective leader, how to dig into your dark side to discover the surprising seeds of success, the secret to becoming a more extraordinary person, how to fight prejudice… and so much more. Even if you read just one, you’ll return from vacation not only in top physical form – but with your brain energized and ready to reach new levels of productivity.
Lifescale: How to Live a More Creative, Productive and Happy Life by Brian Solis, best-selling author, digital analyst and futurist. In this book, he explores why we surrender ourselves to hours upon hours on social media. “Each time we waste time by falling into rabbit holes of digital distractions, we’re paying an opportunity cost” he writes. “Meanwhile, our distraction is eroding our productivity and undermining our mental health and well-being.” Solis provides insight and alternatives to limit a self-destructive habit that can lead to stress, anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem and depression.
Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think and Do by Jennifer Eberhardt. Stanford University professor Eberhardt draws on years of her own rigorous academic research and the work of others to effectively break down how bias insidiously operates in each of our lives – as perpetrators, victims, bystanders and helpers – every day. The deeply moving personal and professional experiences that she shares help facilitate a tangible connection to this important subject matter. A must read for scholars and laypeople alike, this book reaches beyond the merely descriptive to prescribe courses of action that have been found to be effective in combating our unconscious bias.
For more, here’s TED’s giant list from that’ll take you all year to read
The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success by Kevin Dutton. It may seem counterintuitive (to say the least!), but it turns out there’s a lot we can learn about success from psychopaths. According to author Kevin Dutton, a renowned psychologist, serial killers like Ted Bundy tend to have many of the traits we desire: Fearlessness, confidence, charm, ruthlessness and focus. Provocative at every turn, The Wisdom of Psychopaths is a riveting adventure that reveals that it’s our much-maligned dark side that often conceals the trump cards of success.
Raise Your Game: High-Performance Secrets From the Best of the Best by Alan Stein Jr. and Jon Sternfeld. The book addresses three common problems faced by decision-makers today: Ineffective leadership, team dysfunction and low performance. Stein shares the effective strategies he spent 15 years developing to optimize the performance of NBA players. He shows that those strategies are just as effective when applied to the business world. Today, Stein consults organizations such as Starbucks, Pepsi, and American Express on how to improve employee productivity, focus and performance.
Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein. After examining the world’s leading entrepreneurs, athletes, artists and inventors, investigative reporter David Epstein uncovers an unlikely pattern: Generalists (a.k.a. those who often find their path late and juggle multiple interests) have an easier time mastering the skills required to succeed in today’s world, compared to their more specialized peers. Generalists, says Epstein, are more creative and agile. As a result, they’re more likely to outperform their more specialized peers who tend to be more siloed in their expertise. If you’ve yet to nail down your “niche,” this book can be an encouraging revelation. Amanda Ripley, author of “The Smartest Kids in the World,” calls Epstein’s book a “21st century survival guide” that is “full of hope.”
Plus, of course, a list of great fiction, history, biography, and nonfiction too
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb. If you’ve ever wondered what’s going on in your therapist’s head as you’re going on and on about your problems, journalist and psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb has the answer. She explores what it’s like on both sides of the patient-therapist relationship in this disarmingly funny and illuminating book that details her experiences treating clients as well as the experience of visiting a therapist herself. The book is a warm, honest portrayal of people navigating life’s big challenges – heartbreak, illness, the trials of marriage, anger issues, and more – that will make you feel like you just came out of a session with a therapist yourself. A good session.
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. This novel comes highly recommended by Bill Gates. The book is a fun, clever, and surprisingly upbeat look at Russian history through the eyes of one man – Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov – sentenced in 1922 to house arrest in an elegant Moscow hotel just as the Bolsheviks have taken power of the newly formed Soviet Union. The book follows the Count for the next thirty years. “There’s fantastical romance, politics, espionage, parenthood and poetry. The book is technically historical fiction, but you’d be just as accurate calling it a thriller or a love story”, says Gates.
Be sure to save some space in your suitcase for one or more of these titles. Happy reading, happy vacation, and don’t forget your sunscreen!