I’m often asked about what I’ve been reading and if I have any suggestions. With the summer coming and the weather still being gorgeous, here are some top book recommendations for you. These are books that take pride of place on my book case, and have had a massive impact on myself both professional and personally.
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s famous investigations of “optimal experience” have
revealed that what makes an experience genuinely satisfying is a state of consciousness called flow. During flow, people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with life. In this new edition of his groundbreaking classic work, Csikszentmihalyi demonstrates the ways this positive state can be controlled, not just left to chance. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experienceteaches how, by ordering the information that enters our consciousness, we can discover true happiness and greatly improve the quality of our lives.
Grit – Angela Duckworth
Psychologist Angela Duckworth shows parents, educators, students, and business people both seasoned and new that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a focused persistence called grit.
Why do some people succeed and others fail? Sharing new insights from her landmark research on grit, Angela Duckworth explains why talent is hardly a guarantor of success. Rather, other factors can be even more crucial such as identifying our passions and following through on our commitments.
Winningly personal, insightful, and even life-changing, Grit is a book about what goes through your head when you fall down, and how that not talent or luck makes all the difference.
Messy: How to Be Creative and Resilient in a Tidy-Minded World – Tim Harford
The urge to tidiness seems to be rooted deep in the human psyche. Many of us feel threatened by anything that is vague, unplanned, scattered around or hard to describe. We find comfort in having a script to rely on, a system to follow, in being able to categorise and file away.
The trouble with tidiness is that, in excess, it becomes rigid, fragile and sterile. In Messy, Tim Harford reveals how qualities we value more than ever – responsiveness, resilience and creativity – simply cannot be disentangled from the messy soil that produces them.
This, then, is a book about the benefits of being messy: messy in our private lives; messy in the office, with piles of paper on the desk and unread spreadsheets; messy in the recording studio, the laboratory or in preparing for an important presentation; and messy in our approach to business, politics and economics, leaving things vague, diverse and uncomfortably made-up-on-the-spot. It’s time to rediscover the benefits of a little mess.
The Upside of Stress – Kelly McGonigal
More than forty-four percent of Americans admit to losing sleep over stress. And while most of us do everything we can to reduce it, Stanford psychologist and bestselling author Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., delivers a startling message: Stress isn’t bad. In The Upside of Stress, McGonigal highlights new research indicating that stress can, in fact, make us stronger, smarter, and happier—if we learn how to embrace it.
The Upside of Stress is the first book to bring together cutting-edge discoveries on the correlation between resilience—the human capacity for stress-related growth—and mind-set, the power of beliefs to shape reality. As she did in The Willpower Instinct, McGonigal combines science, stories, and exercises into an engaging and practical book that is both entertaining and life-changing.
McGonigal’s TED talk on the subject has already received more than 7 million views. Her message resonates with people who know they can’t eliminate the stress in their lives and want to learn to take advantage of it. The Upside of Stress is not a guide to getting rid of stress, but a guide to getting better at stress, by understanding it, embracing it, and using it.
Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
In the highly anticipated Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. Kahneman exposes the extraordinary capabilities—and also the faults and biases—of fast thinking, and reveals the pervasive influence of intuitive impressions on our thoughts and behavior. The impact of loss aversion and overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the challenges of properly framing risks at work and at home, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning the next vacation—each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems work together to shape our judgments and decisions.
Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives—and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble. Thinking, Fast and Slow will transform the way you think about thinking
Drive – Daniel Pink
Forget everything you thought you knew about how to motivate people—at work, at school, at home. It’s wrong. As Daniel H. Pink (author of To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Motivating Others) explains in his paradigm-shattering book Drive, the secret to high performance and satisfaction in today’s world is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.
Drawing on four decades of scientific research on human motivation, Pink exposes the mismatch between what science knows and what business does—and how that affects every aspect of our lives. He demonstrates that while the old-fashioned carrot-and-stick approach worked successfully in the 20th century, it’s precisely the wrong way to motivate people for today’s challenges. In Drive, he reveals the three elements of true motivation:
Autonomy—the desire to direct our own lives
Mastery—the urge to get better and better at something that matters
Purpose—the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves
Drive is bursting with big ideas—the rare book that will change how you think and transform how you live.
Emotional Intelligence – Daniel Goleman
Everyone knows that high IQ is no guarantee of success, happiness, or virtue, but until Emotional Intelligence, we could only guess why. Daniel Goleman’s brilliant report from the frontiers of psychology and neuroscience offers startling new insight into our “two minds”—the rational and the emotional—and how they together shape our destiny.
Through vivid examples, Goleman delineates the five crucial skills of emotional intelligence, and shows how they determine our success in relationships, work, and even our physical well-being. What emerges is an entirely new way to talk about being smart.
The best news is that “emotional literacy” is not fixed early in life. Every parent, every teacher, every business leader, and everyone interested in a more civil society, has a stake in this compelling vision of human possibility.
(All book overviews from Goodreads.com)