I want to recommend a few business books that are near and dear to me (I’m leaving out books you would have already seen everywhere, like Gladwell’s books.). I’m sure I’m forgetting some, so consider this a work in progress.

  • The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz. If you haven’t read this book, stop everything and go buy it right now. It’s critical reading for marketers, managers, and for that matter, people who like a good book. Find out why jeans-shopping can give you that vaguely anxious feeling, like you’re never sure you’ve picked the right pair.
  • Mindset by Carol Dweck. The subtitle (“How we can learn to fulfill our potential”) and vaguely new-agey cover may deter you, but don’t be fooled: There are brilliant insights here, supported by serious research. Find out what makes the Tiger Woods psyche different than the John McEnroe psyche.
  • The No-Asshole Rule by Bob Sutton. You’ve almost certainly seen this one. If you haven’t bought it, stop waiting. It’s a rare creation: A really fun, plane-worthy read based on lots of research. I’m still in awe that Sutton (and his publisher) had the guts to go with the obscene title. I’ve heard him say that it wouldn’t have worked in a diluted form (“The No-Jerk Rule,” “the No-MeaniePants Rule”), and I’m inclined to agree.
  • Group Genius by Keith Sawyer. This book should have been a big bestseller. Sawyer has spent years studying comedy improv groups and jazz bands, and he’s written a provocative book on how to get the best creative work from groups. You need to know what he has to say on brainstorming — there are techniques you’re probably using now that don’t work, and there are techniques you wouldn’t think to try that may work brilliantly. Go pre-order the paperback.

Finally, here are two books to pre-order:

  • Kluge by Gary Marcus. This protege of Steven Pinker explains why your brain is, at heart, a Rube Goldbergian contraption. You’ll learn why it’s so hard to stay on a diet and what evolution has to do with it. [OK, this is not really a business book, I’m realizing.]
  • Nudge: The Gentle Power of Choice Architecture by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein. Look at the authors, look at the blurbers (Michael Lewis, Daniel Gilbert, Don Norman), and look at that great phrase “choice architecture,” and ask yourself, what else do I need to know?

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