Head into the new season with some books about the ups and downs of the working world (Getty Images/Jessica Peterson)
A good business book can entertain as well as teach. It provides insights from people who've accomplished something, and it can inspire us to take a swing at accomplishing something ourselves. Here are seven of the books that have been inspiring readers this year.
WORK: A DEEP HISTORY, FROM THE STONE AGE TO THE AGE OF ROBOTS
By James Suzman
Some people love to work, some hate it, but our big problem is that we are prone to doing too much of it and use it to define ourselves. In his newest book, Suzman takes a walk through the history of work, turning some of our preconceptions about work upside down in the process.
WORK WON'T LOVE YOU BACK: HOW DEVOTION TO OUR JOBS KEEPS US EXPLOITED, EXHAUSTED, AND ALONE
By Sarah Jaffe
For more on the potentially negative impacts of work, Jaffe’s book argues that we allow work to take over our lives and that the mantra "do what you love" can lead you to be exploited by those who profit from your efforts.
By Phil Knight
Putting a more positive spin on the working world, Knight's memoir is an inspiring story about the ups and downs of following your passion. Shoe Dog follows Knight’s journey to create the iconic sports brand Nike, starting with a loan of $50 from his father. In his first year, 1963, he grossed $8,000. Annual sales now exceed $30 billion.
THINK AGAIN: THE POWER OF KNOWING WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW
By Adam Grant
Culture is a hot topic these days, but what kind of culture do we want? In his newest book, organizational psychologist Adam Grant argues for a learning culture—one where people can rethink what they know, unlearn when necessary and discover new things.
One of Grant’s guiding principles is to "argue like he's right, but listen like he's wrong." This book discusses how we can embrace the joy of being wrong. As the publisher's description notes, "If knowledge is power, knowing what we don't know is wisdom."
HUMOR, SERIOUSLY: WHY HUMOR IS A SECRET WEAPON IN BUSINESS AND LIFE (AND HOW ANYONE CAN HARNESS IT. EVEN YOU.)
By Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas
We don't always have to be serious to be taken seriously in business. In fact, research shows that humour can be a powerful tool when accomplishing serious things. Here, Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas have turned their research and popular Stanford Graduate School of Business course on the subject into an interesting read. Drawing on work by behavioural scientists, as well as inspirational business leaders and comedians, they reveal how humour works and how you can make it work for you.
DREYER'S ENGLISH: AN UTTERLY CORRECT GUIDE TO CLARITY AND STYLE
By Benjamin Dreyer
We all need to communicate and, as we've discovered over the past 18 months of video chats and emails, some people are better at it than others. Dreyer’s tome is a delicious way to improve your knowledge of English usage and have a giggle at the same time. As Random House's longtime copy chief, Dreyer knows his language. He's also funny and mischievous and tells a great story while he's making a point of grammar.
A WORLD WITHOUT EMAIL: REIMAGINING WORK IN AN AGE OF COMMUNICATION OVERLOAD
By Cal Newport
For those of us who think we communicate too much, Newport’s latest presents his vision of a world without the constant barrage of emails and chat notifications, and how it can make workers more, not less, productive.
With these seven volumes at hand, be prepared to be both enlightened and entertained.
MORE TO READ
Try one of these works of fiction to see how accountants are portrayed. Plus, read about the stranger than fiction rise and fall of Carlos Ghosn.