I don’t know about you, but now’s the time that I begin to research my summer reading list. It’s an annual task that I really look forward to doing, and throughout the year I’m forever adding books to my ‘want to read’ list on Goodreads. Primarily I listen to the recommendations of like-minded friends and peers within the industry, but I also like to keep track of literary awards and take note of books that have been well reviewed. Bill Gates’ reading list, for example, is a continual source of reading inspiration, and particularly when I’m looking for non-fiction or business suggestions.
So I thought I would share five books that I’ve earmarked for my summer reading list this year, which all receive excellent ratings on Goodreads and come extremely well reviewed. If you find yourself in need of some reading inspiration this summer, hopefully some titles here may capture your interest, covering a broad range of business and leadership topics…
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
Although my reading list is in no order of preference, ‘Deep Work’ is likely to be top of my reading pile this summer. The distracted mind is a subject that concerns and interests me in equal measures, as a business woman and also as a mother. Our attention spans are rapidly being eroded by the array of technology and content that surrounds us throughout our daily lives. There are so many opportunities for distraction in the modern world, and much research has been done into the addictive qualities of social media and content on demand.
Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time, but unfortunately many of us are losing this ability, instead skirting between a blur of email and social media, without ever going ‘deep’.
In ‘Deep Work’, author and professor Cal Newport flips the narrative and instead of arguing distraction is bad, he instead celebrates the power of its opposite. Dividing this book into two parts, he first makes the case that in almost any profession, cultivating a deep work ethic will produce massive benefits. He then presents a rigorous training regimen, presented as a series of four “rules,” for transforming your mind and habits to support this skill.
If, like me, you worry about maintaining deep focus in an increasingly distracted world, this could be the perfect book to pick up this summer.
‘Smarter Faster Better’ explores the science of productivity, and why managing how we think is more important than what we think. It draws on latest research within the worlds of neuroscience, psychology, and behavioural economics, as well as the experiences of some of the world’s most productive people including CEOs, educational reformers, FBI agents, airplane pilots and Broadway songwriters. The book explains that what these people have in common is that they know that productivity relies on making certain choices. “The way we frame our daily decisions; the big ambitions we embrace and the easy goals we ignore; the cultures we establish as leaders to drive innovation; the way we interact with data: These are the things that separate the merely busy from the genuinely productive.”
At the core of Smarter Faster Better are eight key productivity concepts from motivation and goal setting to focus and decision making that explain why some people and companies get so much done.
Written by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Charles Duhigg, I have high expectations for this being a very well written book, containing a good dose of storytelling.
Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE by Phil Knight
‘Shoe Dog’, the memoir of Nike co-founder Phil Knight, comes on the recommendation of Bill Gates. He describes it as “a refreshingly honest reminder of what the path to business success really looks like. It’s a messy, perilous, and chaotic journey riddled with mistakes, endless struggles, and sacrifice. In fact, the only thing that seems inevitable in page after page of Knight’s story is that his company will end in failure.”
I’ve heard this is an inspirational read for anyone who’s running their own business or in a position of leadership, looking to create something that’s truly different and defies convention. If one of the world’s biggest business success stories had to fight through one setback after another, which could have ended the story at any point, then we too should be encouraged to push forward and not quit.
Knight has never sought the spotlight and always been a bit of a mystery, and the candid nature of his memoir really appeals. In particular, it is said to focus heavily on the relationships with his first partners and employees, a ragtag group of misfits and seekers who became a tight-knit band of brothers. Go on…JUST DO [read] IT!
Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Tim Ferris
Tim Ferris, author of the New York Times best-seller ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’, has recently published his next business tome, of 707 pages to be exact. While the length may be a little off-putting, it promises to be a very accessible read, written in short easy sections which should make it easy to pick up and put down.
Within ‘Tools of Titans’, Ferriss distils some of the most important lessons he has learned through his own experiments with life and work, as well as from the 200+ world-class performers he has interviewed for his highly rated business podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show.
Ferris explains: “Everything within these pages has been vetted, explored, and applied to my own life in some fashion. I’ve used dozens of the tactics and philosophies in high-stakes negotiations, high-risk environments, or large business dealings. The lessons have made me millions of dollars and saved me years of wasted effort and frustration.
“I created this book, my ultimate notebook of high-leverage tools, for myself. It’s changed my life, and I hope the same for you.”
Own It: The Power of Women at Work by Sallie Krawcheck
Sallie Krawcheck’s latest book is said to pick up the women and success conversation, where Sheryl Sandberg left off. According to Krawcheck, we are on the brink of what she calls the Fourth Wave of feminism, one that will usher in unprecedented opportunities for women in business…and I’m keen to find out more.
She claims the business world is evolving in ways that play to women’s strengths, and it’s an intriguing theory. “Because in the increasingly complex and connected world of tomorrow – one in which communication and collaboration rule the day – the skills and qualities needed for success are ones that women inherently possess. And by owning and investing in those qualities women have more power than ever.”
Reviews describe this book as being extremely candid, part memoir and part advice, backed-up with strong research, as well as being easy to read. I’ve really liked what I’ve read by Krawcheck so far, and listened to within her TED Talk, and I expect this book to pack a similar punch.
Do you have any business reading to recommend? We always love to hear your suggestions. Please let us know within the comments below.