Best business books

From a National Business Book Award winner to a tome on the art of persuasion, these books will inspire you with plenty of fresh ideas to explore in the new year.

Holiday | Books

8 of the best business books to inspire you for the new year

What better way to wrap up 2018 than with a good solid business read? Here are eight of our top picks.

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As the weather gets colder and the holidays get closer, many of us can look forward to some well-deserved rest before revving up again in 2019. And what better way to while away the hours in front of the fire than with a good book?

Here are some of the best business books of 2018—and a few other popular choices from other years. They will inspire you with you plenty of fresh ideas to explore in the new year. Just call it a fitness reset for the mind.

THE PATCH: THE PEOPLE, PIPELINES, AND POLITICS OF THE OIL SANDS
By Chris Turner 

In The Patch, winner of the 2018 National Business Book Award (NBBA), author Chris Turner literally travels to the heart of what has become one of the most polarizing subjects in Canada: Alberta’s oil sands. He takes us to the streets of Fort McMurray—once the hub of Canada’s gold rush and now one of the symbols in an ongoing debate about environmental degradation—to show just how much the oil sands continue to affect our lives. [Read an excerpt of The Patch]

Turner does not take sides, preferring to let various stakeholders—from oil executives to immigrant workers and Indigenous community members—provide a picture of the community that has grown up around Canada’s second largest proven reserve of oil. In so doing, he encourages readers to ask an important question: how do we reconcile the need for action on climate change with the need to provide energy to an ever more populous planet? In other words, what do we do about the Patch?

STUMBLING GIANTS: TRANSFORMING CANADA’S BANKS FOR THE INFORMATION AGE 
By Patricia Meredith and James L. Darroch

“We need banking, but we don’t need banks anymore.” So said Bill Gates, back in 1994. Yet to this day, banks in Canada have continued to take home record profits (to the tune of $42-billion in 2017 alone—twice as much as in 2010). 

In this book, which was a 2018 NBBA finalist, Patricia Meredith and James L. Darroch argue that the same forces that contributed to Canadian banks’ success could also cause them to fade into irrelevance. By clinging to their traditional ways—for example, by forcing customers to go into a bank branch to open an account when it would be much quicker to do so online—they cannot help but give up ground to more nimble competitors. What they apparently need is a reality check, and the authors are there to provide one in this thoroughly researched book. 

THE 25TH HOUR: SUPERCHARGING PRODUCTIVITY - SECRETS FROM 300 SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEURS
By Guillaume Declair, Bao Dinh and Jérôme Dumont (Available in English and French)

For anyone who has ever wished there were more hours in the day, this book could be a lifesaver. Using productivity tips from more than 300 entrepreneurs, investors and startup founders, it shows how you can win back an hour every single day to do the things you really want to do. Among other pointers, it explains how to cut time spent on emails by 50 per cent, say no to nine out of every 10 demands and power-surf the web.

Perhaps most importantly, it shows how to get rid of distracting thoughts so you can zero in on what’s really important. That alone should be worth much more than an hour.

LOOKING FOR BOOTSTRAPS: ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN THE MARITIMES
By Donald J. Savoie

The famous Canadian-born economist John Kenneth Galbraith once wondered why the Maritimes, with its choice location in relation to western Europe and the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, has been such a chronic underperformer. It’s a big question, and one that Donald J. Savoie, one of Canada’s leading political economists and a life-long resident of New Brunswick, is more than qualified to tackle. 

In Bootstraps—a finalist for the 2018 NBBA—Savoie looks at several factors, including history, geography and the people themselves, that might help solve the development puzzle. But he also shows how the region has been underserved by national and provincial policies. All in all, he provides a fresh perspective on a question that has stumped many people for decades.

INFLUENCE: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PERSUASION
By Robert B. Cialdini (Available in English and French)

First published in 1984, this rigorously researched work has been called “the classic book on persuasion.” Authored by Robert B. Cialdini, an expert in the science of influence, it explains the psychology of why people say “yes”—and how to apply that knowledge. 

In the book, which is recognized as a precursor to behavioural economics, you’ll learn how to use several universal principles to develop your persuasion skills and to defend yourself against others who want to use theirs on you. Since writing Influence, Cialdini has become increasingly influential himself, expanding his work in other books and giving keynote addresses and workshops.

THE RICHEST MAN IN BABYLON
By George S. Clason (Available in English and French)

Babylon has been hailed as one of the most inspirational works on thrift and financial planning that has ever been written. Originally published in 1926, it is a classic must-read for anyone who wants to learn the secrets behind creating, growing and preserving wealth. 

In the book, George S. Clason uses ancient tales of tradespeople and merchants to illustrate some of the basic truths of finance: how to keep more of what you earn; get out of debt; put your money to work; choose good investments and safeguard your nest egg. As one Amazon reader said, “I found treasures and useful examples, advice and thoughts that I wish I could [have found] earlier in life.”

MASTERING LEADERSHIP: AN INTEGRATED FRAMEWORK FOR BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE AND EXTRAORDINARY BUSINESS RESULTS
By Robert J. Anderson and William A. Adams (Available in English and French)

Research has shown that the best-led organizations are also the most successful. But providing good direction in a world shaken by constant change is not easy. Many leaders are actually in over their heads, whether they know it or not. 

This book aims to get to the root of good leadership by providing a comprehensive road map for developing the senior leaders in your organization. Among other features, it includes a free online self-assessment; a description of the five stages in the evolution of leadership (egocentric, reactive, creative, integral and unitive) and six leadership practices for evolving your leadership capability at a faster pace. But above all, it argues that a strategic, long-term and integrated approach is needed to forge more effective leaders. There are just no quick fixes.

CREATING GREAT CHOICES: A LEADER’S GUIDE TO INTEGRATIVE THINKING
By Jennifer Riel and Roger L. Martin

No one likes making tough choices, because we think they will involve trade-offs. But what if you didn’t need to accept a trade-off at all? What if you could use two opposing ideas to come up with a solution that is better than both? Then you would be in the realm of integrative thinking.

Roger L. Martin first introduced this integrative approach in his 2007 book, The Opposable Mind. In Creating Great Choices, he and Jennifer Riel show how to apply this type of thinking in real life. Using a clear four-step methodology for making great choices, as well as exercises and stories that show the concepts in action, they provide everything readers need to find a “third and better way” when faced with unacceptable trade-offs. [Read an excerpt from Creating Great Choices]

GROW YOUR BOOK COLLECTION

Take along one of these interesting business reads on your next vacation. And get lessons applicable to the boardroom from these four classic sports books.