20 business books to read this summer

Summer is the perfect time to catch up on your reading, and there are plenty of great business books to add to your list.

We’ve picked our favorite recently released and upcoming books that will help enrich your professional life. From the first in-depth biography of billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk to a neurological explanation of “eureka” moments, these books will make you smarter about business while you’re waiting in the airport or lying on the beach.

‘Elon Musk’ by Ashlee Vance

Musk is the billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla. He says his mission in life is to prevent the human race from destroying itself.

Vance, a Bloomberg Businessweek reporter, gained unprecedented access to Musk and those closest to him. He paints a picture of a man who has always felt a desire to change the world despite having difficulty finding his place in it, and a leader whose intensity can be difficult for the people he works with while simultaneously inspiring them.

‘Work Rules!’ by Laszlo Bock

Since joining Google as its senior vice president of People Operations in 2006, Bock has seen the company transform into a powerful global business, growing from 6,000 employees to nearly 60,000. In that same time, Google has regularly topped lists of the best places to work.

Bock takes readers behind the scenes and explores the management strategies that have helped make Google exceptional, from differentiating between employee development and performance and “paying unfairly.”

‘No One Understands You and What to Do About It’ by Heidi Grant Halvorson

We’ll give you the benefit of the doubt: You’re the smartest, most talented member of your team. But if your colleagues don’t work well with you, it is partially your fault.

Halvorson, a social psychologist at the Columbia Business School, breaks down decades of research into an enjoyable guide to understanding how people perceive each other, and how this knowledge can make you a better communicator.

‘Straight to Hell’ by John LeFevre

LeFevre is a former Citigroup bond trader who got famous through his Twitter account “Goldman Sachs Elevator,” a collection of biting Wall Street satire pointing out callousness and cluelessness that bankers, traders, and investors came to embrace.

His book is part satire and part memoir, an insider’s “unapologetic” look at the world of finance.

‘Digital Gold’ by Nathaniel Popper

Last year, Newsweek caused a stir when it ran a cover story claiming it had identified the creator of the online currency Bitcoin. Soon after the report, members of the Bitcoin community were convinced Newsweek found the wrong guy.

Popper, a New York Times reporter, seems to have discovered the actual man behind Bitcoin, and “Digital Gold” is the most complete look at the currency’s history, concluding that it has passed the point of being a mere fad.

‘The Misfit Economy’ by Alexa Clay and Kyra Maya Phillips

Authors Clay and Phillips take a look at the organizational models of outlaws like Somali pirates and Brazilian counterfeiters, arguing that “these innovators display remarkable ingenuity, pioneering original methods and practices that we can learn from and apply to move formal markets.”

Their book compels readers to not dismiss fringe management styles, even from the world’s most unsavory characters, and instead learn how to incorporate a fearless experimentation into your workplace.

‘When to Rob a Bank’ by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

Economist Steven Levitt and author Stephen Dubner celebrate the tenth anniversary of their blockbuster book “Freakonomics” with a collection of 131 of their favorite blog posts from the past decade.

You’ll learn about the psychology of lying, the argument to abolish the penny, and why robbing a bank isn’t a bad idea because of the morality, but because it has a terrible return on investment.

‘Bold’ by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler

Serial tech entrepreneur Peter H. Diamandis and author/entrepreneur Steven Kotler follow up their bestselling book “Abundance” with a look at the technologies and entrepreneurs redefining our world.

The book has valuable insight from the likes of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson.

‘Design to Grow’ by David Butler and Linda Tischler

That Coca-Cola has dominated the soft drink market for more than a century and is one of the world’s largest brands isn’t just because lots of people enjoy drinking Coke.

With the help of Fast Company senior editor Linda Tischler, Coca-Cola’s VP of innovation and entrepreneurship David Butler offers a rare look into the workings of Coke and how it has stayed ahead of the competition by remaining agile.

‘Clay Water Brick’ by Jessica Jackley

Jackley is the cofounder of Kiva, a microlending site that helps entrepreneurs from around the world develop their businesses as a way to lift themselves out of poverty.

“Clay Water Brick” is Jackley’s recounting of developing Kiva from a dying startup in 2005 to a global network that has raised $709 million in loans, with a repayment rate of 98.72%.

‘The Road to Character’ by David Brooks

New York Times columnist David Brooks believes the increasing fixation on online personal branding and racking up achievements for a résumé has become toxic.

He explores the lives of a wide variety of historical figures like St. Augustine and Dorothy Day to illustrate his point: that true success should be associated more closely with forgetting one’s self and connecting with others.

‘The Eureka Factor’ by John Kounios and Mark Beeman

Drexel’s John Kounios and Northwestern’s Mark Beeman are neuroscientists who have spent their careers studying the manifestation of creativity in the brain.

Their book is a collection of their research into “aha! moments” when the brain overcomes a confusion to have a spark of insight.

‘Better Than Before’ by Gretchen Rubin

Rubin has devoted her writing career to examining the latest and most important research on how happiness is manifested in the brain and how people can change their lives to increase the regularity of these reactions.

In “Better Than Before,” Rubin takes scientific findings on habit formation and turns them into practical and useful processes that can help you live a happier life.

‘Rise of the Robots’ by Martin Ford

Robots are increasingly intelligent and they’re coming to take your job, says Ford, a software developer and entrepreneur.

But rather than being a warning from a tech-fearing Luddite, Ford guides readers through the surprising evolution of artificial intelligence from simple task-based machines into quick-thinking programs that can replace service workers, journalists, and programmers.

‘How Music Got Free’ by Stephen Witt

The story of how the digital music industry crushed the CD industry has been old news for years now, but Witt takes a look at the personalities who accelerated the spread of piracy to profit off the death of the physical album.

Witt uncovers the largely untold stories of people like the German entrepreneurs who invented the mp3 file and Dell Glover, the compact disc factory worker who leaked some of the biggest albums of the aughts, leaving record label execs frustrated and scared.

‘The Creator’s Code’ by Amy Wilkinson

While any successful entrepreneur has to experience failure, enjoy luck, and learn along the way, there are certain approaches that can make the journey a bit smoother, says Stanford Business School lecturer and corporate strategist Amy Wilkinson.

From more than 200 interviews with entrepreneurs like LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman, Chipotle’s Steve Ells, and Gilt Groupe’s Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkins, Wilkinson has determined six essential skills that drive success across all industries and circumstances.

‘Holacracy’ by Brian J. Robertson

You may have heard that popular online retailer Zappos now operates as a “Holacracy,” a system in which manager roles and job titles are eliminated.

Holacracy is a difficult concept to understand, but its founder Brian Robertson breaks it down simply and thoroughly. Regardless of your conclusion about the system’s potential, it is undoubtedly the alternative management approach that will be getting the most attention over the next few years as we see how it affects thousands of employees around the world.

‘Triggers’ by Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter

Goldsmith is an executive coach who has worked with the leadership of massive companies like Pfizer and Target.

His approach can help you determine what isn’t working with you and your team, and how to develop new habits and processes for maximizing efficiency and productivity.

‘The Career Playbook’ by James M. Citrin

This book is the perfect gift for a new college graduate, or for yourself if you happen to be just starting out in your own career.

Citrin leads executive recruitment firm Spencer Stuart’s North American CEO practice, and has spent decades determining what makes a job candidate stand out from a highly competitive pool of applicants. His book breaks down the basics of skills like networking, interviewing, and negotiating.

‘Bourbon Empire’ by Reid Mitenbuler

Mitenbuler is a journalist who tracks the history of American whiskey, from the frontier through Prohibition to the luxury brands of today.

He shows how bourbon is a product uniquely tied to the history of the US, and one that required ruthless business tactics and innovation to become an iconic product

This article is published in collaboration with Business Insider UK. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

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Author: Richard Feloni covers management strategy and entrepreneurialism for Business Insider.

Image: A woman reads a book at her open air book store. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski.