At the start of each month, in the Sunday Business section, The New York Times publishes a boxed feature with its list of top ten bestselling hardcover and five bestselling paperback business books. I’ve been following this for years, and to date have not found this bestseller list online. Apparently it’s a print-only story, even if you look at this comprehensive listing.
Going forward, we’re going to provide the list every month with our comments. We do this because we feel it’s important for business book authors, both potential and published, to see what the business reader is reading. What he or she is thinking about. What they want to learn more about. Click on the title to see the book on Amazon.
1. Mastery by Robert Greene. Something of an historian, something of a classicist, the author combines these two interests to tell the stories of individuals who have achieved mastery in their primary area of interest. In some ways a good companion to Gladwell’s Outliers and the 10,000-hour rule.
2. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. This is a really cool, perceptive book on something you probably don’t consciously use in your everyday life. Spaghetti every Wednesday? You bet. But there’s more: Duhigg looks into some of the newer, hip psychologies and neurological studies to support his thesis that understanding habit helps us, as individuals, change, but it also helps us understand consumer behavior better.
3. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. My most thoughtful friend, with whom I have hours-long coversations about life, the universe, and everything, gave me this book last year. It’s sat on the shelf unread, but I’ve picked it up and thumbed through it a few times. Sometimes I’m daunted by reading a big fat book about a subject I’d prefer to see as a magazine article, but there’s no doubt this is a fascinating book to keep you stimulated on long winter evenings.
4. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. A straight-up biography of Apple’s Great Leader. In a time when tribes, work communes and collaboration seem the most prevalent organizational structure, Jobs stands out as a man with a clear vision, an iconoclast in the mold of such business leaders as Thomas J. Watson, Sr., Alfred P. Sloan and Larry Ellison. Isaacson captures the Essential Jobs without gilding the lily. Presented with a choice between Jobs’ biography and Keith Richard’s, I went with Steve.
5. Why I Left Goldman Sachs by Greg Smith. Is this a kiss-and-tell or a book from which you’ll learn some important lessons about Wall Street? Whichever the case, Smith proves it’s easier to leave Goldman, Sachs than to get hired.
6. The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsay. This is a personal financial management book for those who struggle with the American Way of Debt. Ramsey’s basic theme and sage advice: Pay cash. Not really sure why it’s on this list.
7. Strengths-Based Leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie. Reading the Amazon reviews might lead you to think these authors simply write the same book over and over. Or it might make you think, “Yeah, that’s what I thought.” It’s good to have all this research, but it’s up to you to figure out how best to use it.
8. Great By Choice by Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen. Collins is another author who dwells on the same theme(s) from book to book, but still, I’m glad we have him to read. His books have energy and insight and read very well.
9. How Will You Measure Your Life? By Clayton Christensen, James Allworth and Karen Dillon. A provocative title, to be sure, and a subject all thoughtful people should take the time to consider. Christensen’s message is personal, like the commencement lectures from which it’s drawn, and is an outgrowth of his religious beliefs. Perhaps better suited to the younger reader starting out in life and career.
10. The Four-Hour Workweek [new revised edition] By Timothy Ferris. No mistake, this guy is a phenomenon. No other business author on this list has the clear-eyed perception about the direction in which the world is turning – and changing. Ferris has added 100 pages to this new edition, and if any of his other books have not enticed you, this one ought to jump to the top of your reading list.
1. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. A New Yorker staff writer and keen observer, Gladwell deserves a lot of credit for his ability to extrapolate interesting conclusions from everyday events. Outliers certainly got me counting my career hours [yep, I’m in the 10,000-hours club]. I’m still reflecting on what it means to have grown up in cowboyland.
2. Custom Nation by Anthony Flynn and Emily Flynn. This is my second most interesting book on this month’s list, in a tie with The Four-Hour Workweek. These two books represent the highest forms of innovation, which is on everyones’ minds these days, Ferriss in personal life innovation and Flynn and Flynn in the dramatically changing business model. Fascinating. Where’s my 3D printer?
3. Boomerang by Michael Lewis. Entertaining and lesson-teaching all wrapped up in a fascinating take on how the world – both the third and the one we call the United States of America – are changing right under our feet, dramatizing our American complacency as the others innovate like crazy. And sometimes crazily.
4. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s been ten years since Gladwell put a new spin on this term into our lexicon. If you haven’t read it, you should, because that’s why after a decade it’s still on the bestseller lists.
5. Drive by Daniel H. Pink. This book amazed me when I first bought it: Dan Pink is a humanist first and a business guru all the way around that. His insights and teaching resonate at the innermost points to consistently make sense. All in simple, brief prose. What a pleasure it is to learn from him. Spoiler: I am using Dan’s definition of motivation to motivate you to read this book.