Books

From an Elon Musk Bio to Malcolm Gladwell's 'Blink', These 9 Books Are Must-Reads

From an Elon Musk Bio to Malcolm Gladwell's 'Blink', These 9 Books Are Must-Reads
Image credit: Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance

There’s so much valuable business content clouding the blogosphere that it’s hard to choose what to keep up with.

Each year, I try to enlighten myself in a traditional way -- by selecting a few novel, relevant business books to put on my reading list. Some are just off the press, and others are just too good to pass up. Here’s what I came up with for 2016.

Related: The 25 Essential Books for Every Entrepreneur's Library

1. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, by Ashlee Vance

You can’t beat learning from the greats, and Elon Musk is one of the world’s most impressive entrepreneurs. Ashlee Vance leaves nothing out about Musk’s life and legacy, thanks to interviews with the man himself and nearly 300 others who know him and his achievements. The book offers an insider’s look at Vance’s rough upbringing and his innovative achievements, including PayPal, Tesla Motors and SpaceX.


2. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, by Peter Thiel

Peter Thiel is another legendary industry leader who I look up to. In Zero to One, he offers his insights into what the future of American progress will look like and how we should rethink the way we approach innovation to succeed. This optimistic book demonstrates how entrepreneurs overcome technological stagnation and competition by creating truly unique business ventures.


3. Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, by Adam Grant

Hot off the press, Originals tackles a huge topic -- how to improve the world -- using a wide range of research studies and anecdotes from business, politics, entertainment and other areas. By exploring the essence of non-conformity, Grant sets readers up with the tools they need to beat the status-quo and make major strides in business or any other endeavor.


4. Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent, by Sydney Finkelstein

Superbosses offers insight into the characteristics and behaviors of the leaders in every industry. I’m intrigued by it, because it’s based on 10 years of Finkelstein’s academic research. Finkelstein says that so-called “superbosses” have a wide variety of personal styles, but there are some key practices that they all focus on -- such as identifying promising newcomers and inspiring their teams.

Related: 10 Little-Known Books to Add to Your Entrepreneur Bookshelf


5. The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail, by Clayton Christense 

For digital marketers especially, technology plays a huge role in success. That’s why I think it’s important to understand the power of technology to make or destroy your business. The Innovator’s Dilemma demonstrates how “disruptive innovation” can cause even the best businesses to fail, and it explains how most companies fail to pick up on the waves of innovation when they come.


6. Work Rules! Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead, by Laszlo Bock

I’ll admit, I have a bit of an obsession with Google’s methods for success, but you can’t blame me. Laszlo Bock is Google’s head of People Operations, and in this book, he offers unique insights into the company’s work philosophy and how any entrepreneur can attract spectacular talent and increase business success. As a business leader, the valuable lessons in Work Rules! are something I can’t pass up.


7. Small Data: The Tiny Clues That Uncover Huge Trends, by Martin Lindstrom

I’m a fan of big data, but I can’t help but wonder what we might be missing in the details. Martin Lindstrom is on the same page, and Small Data explains just how the little things can make all the difference in business, with lots of great examples to back it up. I thinkSmall Data is a great reminder for entrepreneurs to take a step back from their analytics every once in a while and think about what really makes the customer tick.


8. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, by Malcolm Gladwell

Fast decision-making can make or break a career, which is why it’s valuable for entrepreneurs to understand what makes someone great at it. Blink dives right into how we think without thinking and the different ways our brains make decisions based on our environment. The book reveals the qualities of a great decision-maker -- and they’re not what you think.


9. The Happiness Track: How to Apply the Science of Happiness to Accelerate Your Success, by Emma Seppala

I’m always interested in the science of happiness, but this new release caught my eye because of its focus on success. Emma Seppala is an expert in health psychology and well-being, and The Happiness Track fights the traditional belief that success can only be achieved through sacrifice and struggle.

Related: 9 Brilliant Business Books You Can Read in an Afternoon

Seppala instead draws on the latest research to argue how finding happiness is actually the best way to thrive professionally.