With 8,000 new business books published last year (and about four times as many self-published titles!), it can be a chore to search for those books that are actually worth reading. Luckily, we’ve found them for you! The 30 books on this list have been recognized by readers and critics as the best business books of 2016. They range from how-to guides to profiles of successful entrepreneurs, and on topics from economics to leadership and management.
Though there were certainly more than 30 excellent books to hit the business shelf last year, the following titles were chosen based on: a publication date between June 2015 and May 2016, appearances made on a bestseller list (New York Times, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.), reader reviews, critic reviews, awards and recognition, and other notable characteristics (such as an especially notable author).
1. Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble
Those who have braved a start-up (or who have ever thought about braving a start-up) will love Dan Lyons’ Disrupted. At 50 years old, the long-time Newsweek reporter found himself jobless with a wife and two kids to support. Landing a job at HubSpot, a Boston start-up, Lyons fell head-first into a world of work-wide push-up clubs, breaks turned into Nerf gun fights, walking meetings, and “bouncy-ball desk chairs.” Luckily for us, Lyons describes it all with hilarious wit, and in the process describes all of those start-ups that lavishly blow money on perks while simultaneously trying to survive long enough to reach an IPO and a massive payout.
2. Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business
Charles Duhigg, the best-selling author of The Power of Habit, has now written Smarter Faster Better, in which he explores the science of productivity, and why, in today’s world, managing how you think (as opposed to what you think) can transform your life. To encourage people to view their behavior differently, Duhigg cites eight key concepts that draw on neuroscience, psychology, and behavioral economics. To illustrate his point, Duhigg uses examples like the young PhD student who dropped out to pursue poker and became one of the most successful players in the world, or the filmmakers behind the mega-hit movie Frozen, who managed to motivate their crew in just the right way when they were running out of time and money.
3. The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future
Steve Case knows business. As co-founder of AOL, Case led his company’s merger with Time Warner and ultimately became Chairman of the biggest media and communications empire in the world. In The Third Wave, Case breaks down the first wave (during which AOL and other companies lay the foundation for the world to connect to the internet) and the second wave (when companies like Google and Facebook turned that connection to the internet into a social platform), and discusses his theories about the third wave, when internet businesses will have to completely reinvent the way they do business with customers.
4. Quench Your Own Thirst: Business Lessons Learned Over a Beer or Two
In this friendly new business book, The Boston Beer Company (brewer of Samuel Adams Boston Lager) founder Jim Koch offers his unique perspective about turning a passion into a successful company. To illustrate, Koch offers readers an inside glimpse into his own David and Goliath story; as a struggling beer-maker in 1984, Koch persevered to start his brewing company against the massive companies that had already solidified themselves as leading craft breweries. Three decades later, Samuel Adams Boston Lager has redefined the way Americans think about beer and has helped to spur a craft beer revolution.
5. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
According to psychologist Angela Duckworth, the secret to outstanding achievement isn’t talent, but a special blend of passion and persistence — “grit.” In Grit, Duckworth recounts stories about cadets struggling through their final days at West Point, young finalists at the National Spelling Bee, and teachers working in some of the toughest schools. She also includes pieces of interviews conducted with such high achievers as JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff, and Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. These personal stories, combined with Duckworth’s extensive research, makes Grit a fascinating hypothesis that argues against the traditional idea that one must be genius to be successful.
6. The New Case for Gold
In The New Case for Gold, James Rickards argues against some of the most well-known statements about gold and the gold standard to bring readers the truth about how the average citizen should deal with gold. According to Rickards, the next financial collapse will be exponentially bigger than that of 2008, and eventually only the central banks and hedge funds will be able to buy gold. Sound scary? Luckily, Rickards outlines a clear strategy for the average person, providing clear instructions about how much gold to buy and where to store it.
7. Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization
Parag Khanna, the bestselling author of such books as The Second World and How to Run the World, released Connectography in April 2016. An instant bestseller, Connectography describes a future shaped less by national borders and more by global supply chains. In such a world, asserts Khanna, the most connected powers and people will “win.” To illustrate his point, Khanna travels from Ukraine to Iran, Mongolia to North Korea, Pakistan to Nigeria, and around the South China Sea to find how rapid and unprecedented changes in militaries, railroads, pipelines, shipping lanes, and internet cables are affecting every corner of the globe.
8. The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues
Patrick M. Lencioni
Patrick M. Lencioni’s book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team is one of the most popular business books of all time. In his newest book, The Ideal Team Player, Lencioni turns his attention towards the individual and focuses on the three must-have virtues of an ideal team player. Along with actionable tools that can be used to identify, hire, and develop team players, Lencioni tells the story of a man trying to restore his family’s company through a cultural commitment to teamwork. The fable is both entertaining and helpful in illustrating what it actually is that makes a great team player.
9. Five Easy Theses: Commonsense Solutions to America’s Greatest Economic Challenges
Economics-savvy readers will love James Stone’s Five Easy Theses, in which the esteemed economic thinker outlines specific and common-sense solutions to such issues as Social Security, the out-of-control financial sector, income inequality, and affordable healthcare and education. According to Stone, reining in — and in some cases, solving — these issues is as easy as various policy options that, if implemented, could preserve or enhance revenue while also channeling the national economy toward the greater good.
10. Warren Buffet’s Ground Rules: Words of Wisdom from the Partnership Letters of the World’s Greatest Investor
Jeremy C. Miller
There may be no name as synonymous with business as that of Warren Buffett. While countless books written by and about Buffett already exist on the market, Warren Buffet’s Ground Rules is different in that it is a compendium of the Berkshire Hathaway chairman’s many letters written to his business partners between the years of 1956 and 1970 — the time period in which Buffett experienced unprecedented success. The letters reveal Buffett’s thoughts, approaches, and reflections, and include such topics as diversification strategy, his preference for conservative decision making, and his goal and strategies for bettering market results by at least 10% annually.
11. The Code of the Extraordinary Mind: 10 Unconventional Laws to Redefine Your Life and Succeed On Your Own Terms
In The Code of the Extraordinary Mind, author Vishen Lakhiani theorizes that widely accepted ideas about everyday things like love, education, spirituality, work, and happiness are all based upon long out-of-date “wisdom” that has simply been passed down from generation to generation without question. By removing these outdated ideas, he asserts, we can break free of the limiting rules and redefine success on our own terms. Lakhiani’s book blends computational thinking, integral theory, modern spirituality, evolutionary biology, and humor to provide readers with a 10-point framework for understanding the human self, learning to grow at a more rapid speed, and discovering one’s “personal quest.”
12. Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin is Changing Money, Business, and the World
If the first generation of the digital revolution brought us the internet of information, then the current second generation is bringing us the internet of value, that is, a new platform that can reshape the world of business and improve the order of human affairs. In Blockchain Revolution, Don Tapscott describes the revolutionary protocol — bitcoin — that allows transactions to be both anonymous and secure. He explains how the underlying framework of bitcoin has the potential to become much more than a currency, and how it can be used to record virtually everything of value, from birth and death certificates, to insurance claims and votes. Tapscott’s book is a must-read for those interested in cutting edge technology and the “wild west” of the internet.
13. Meetings Suck: Turning One of the Most Loathed Elements of Business into One of the Most Valuable
A must-read for anyone who runs or attends business-related meetings, Meetings Suck begins by acknowledging the fact that a mutual hatred for meetings is, perhaps, the one and only thing on which everyone in business can agree. But author Cameron Herold goes on to assert that that’s not actually true — it’s not meetings that suck, it’s us. We suck at running meetings. Because meetings that work can make employees and companies better, Herold lays out an immediately actionable, step-by-step system to help meeting-running readers plan focus, time-effective meetings that are sure to improve any organization.
14. Find Your Extraordinary: Dream Bigger, Live Happier, and Achieve Success on Your Own Terms
Jessica DiLullo Herrin
In Find Your Extraordinary, Jessica DiLullo Herrin, founder and CEO of the Stella & Dot Family Brands, explains how the classic traits of successful entrepreneurs can actually be learned and developed. Furthermore, such traits can be used to create an extraordinary life, whether we work a corporate job, run a family, or run our own business. Herrin speaks from experience, and the book is full of realistic, attainable steps that anyone can turn into a reality. Throughout the book, Herrin includes inspiring lessons from her own life and business journey, as well as stories from amazing individuals she has met along her way to success.
15. The Career Code: Must-Know Rules for a Strategic, Stylish, and Self-Made Career
Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power
The Career Code is the third book in the Who What Wear series, the massively popular series written by entrepreneurs Katherine Power and Hillary Kerr. Aimed at ambitious women, the Career Code is chock-full of realistic “career codes,” how-to advice, and personal insights and stories from their journey from tiny company to a multibrand, multiplatform, multi-million dollar company. Chapters include advice on resume building, dressing for the job you want, and how to effectively communicate with different personalities at work.
16. You Don’t Have to Be a Shark: Creating Your Own Success
While many people believe that to be successful in sales one must possess a demanding and aggressive personality, entrepreneur and investor Robert Herjavec insists that viewpoint is nothing but a myth. Known as the “nice shark” on ABC’s hit TV show Shark Tank, Herjavec has written this new book specifically for “non-business people.” He transcends pure sales techniques to teach readers that we are each our own greatest asset, and in order to achieve our goals, we need to be able to communicate with others, position ourselves strategically, and look the part. His philosophy is simple: great salespeople are made, not born. Throughout the book, Herjavec also includes friendly and funny anecdotes and personal stories from his business career and television experiences.
17. Negotiating the Nonnegotiable: How to Resolve Your Most Emotionally Charged Conflicts
Negotiating the Nonnegotiable is the newest book by bestselling author and negotiation expert Daniel Shapiro. In this book, Shapiro reveals the five emotional forces that are most commonly to blame for strained relationships. Then, he lays out a powerful proven approach that readers can use to overcome such relationships, reconcile relationships, and reach agreement and progress in even the most challenging of personal and professional disputes.
18. Monetizing Innovation: How Smart Companies Design the Product Around the Price
Madhaven Ramanujam and Georg Tacke
Authors Georg Tacke and Madhaven Ramanujam are two of the world’s premier pricing and monetization consultants. In Monetizing Innovation, Tacke and Ramanujam break down lessons learned over thirty years and more than 10,000 projects. Whether you’re a CEO, manager in charge of a team, or even a member on a team responsible for innovation, this nine-step approach of Monetizing Innovation is a must-read. Through illustrative case studies, personal stories, and practical advice, Tacke and Ramanujam show readers how the smartest companies design their products with an end-goal — the price and sales — in mind, and not the opposite.
19. Learning Leadership: The Five Fundamentals of Becoming an Exemplary Leader
James M. Kouzes and Barry Posner
In Learning Leadership, James M. Kouzes and Barry Posner, the authors of The Leadership Challenge and more than a dozen other bestselling books, ask the questions: How do people learn leadership? How do they learn to become leaders? This new book is their answer to those questions. Along with evidence-based strategies to ignite the habit of continuous improvement, first-hand stories, and practical examples, readers will learn the five fundamentals of becoming an exemplary leader: believe in yourself, aspire to excel, challenge yourself, engage support, and practice deliberately.
20. Black Horse Ride: The Inside Story of Lloyd’s and the Banking Crisis
Most business-minded readers in America are already well acquainted with the financial crisis of 2008, when the housing bubble burst and major corporations like Lehman Brothers shut down for good. In Black Horse Ride, Ivan Fallon, the former CEO of Independent News & Media UK, offers a well-researched look at the global financial crisis through a British lens. The book follows the crisis in Britain from its beginning through the British government’s messy bailout of Lloyds Banking Group in 2008.
21.Leadership BS: Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time
According to Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business, most popular leadership books are too sweet and idealistic, and based more on emotion rather than solid data. This is BS, he says. In Leadership BS, Pfeffer presents a solidly researched counter argument to such books in which he claims that “strategic misrepresentation isn’t as harmful as you think, that breached agreements are a part of business, that immodesty is frequently a path to success, and that relying on the magnanimity of your boss is a bad bet.”
22. Hall of Mirrors: The Great Depression, The Great Recession, and the Uses — and Misuses — of History
With countries all over the world on the brink of economic collapse, Barry Eichengreen’s new historical book, Hall of Mirrors, is actually rather timely. The book compares the Great Depression of the 1930s with the Great Recession of the current generation, and looks for similarities and differences between their impact on both the United States and Europe. Drawn from Eichengreen’s experiences as an economist with the International Monetary Fund, and from decades of research on financial crises, Hall of Mirrors is a fascinating read for the history, and an important read for the timeliness.
23. Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction
Philip Tetlock and Dan Gardner
Predicting trends is an important part of business, but in a 2005 study he conducted, author and Wharton professor Philip Tetlock found that corporate and political predictions are only slightly better than chance. But he also found that a very small group of these “forecasters” manage to make accurate predictions very consistently. In Superforecasting, Tetlock and co-author Dan Gardner look at what makes these experts superior in predicting the future. It draws upon years of research, plus interesting interviews with sources ranging from former General David Petraeus to former Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin.
24. Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money
We’re in the age of the bitcoin, and every major corporation has spent the last couple of years trying to get the scoop on who actually created the online currency. Newsweek even ran a cover story claiming it had identified Bitcoin’s creator, only to have it blasted as false by members of the Bitcoin community. But Nathaniel Popper, a New York Times reporter, seems to have discovered the actual man behind Bitcoin, and his Digital Gold is the most complete look at Bitcoin’s history, concluding that it has passed the point of being a mere fad.
25. Restart: The Last Chance for the Indian Economy
The theme of countries on the brink of economic collapse continues with Mihir Sharma’s Restart. Restart recaps India’s massive economic crisis in 1991, and the way that it responded to this crisis with widespread significant reforms. It was through these reforms that poverty rates fell, literacy rose, and an improving economy triggered a move into the middle class for millions of people. Sharma, a popular Indian journalist for the Business Standard, goes on to assert that India is now suffering from a major lack of industrial development, archaic laws, and poor leadership, but that it can reassert itself into this jumbled global economy.
26. Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry
Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff
Anyone working or interested in business knows about the saga of the Blackberry, its “extraordinary rise and spectacular fall.” And as Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff, authors of Losing the Signal, suggest, there is a lot to learn from that saga. Less than five years ago, Blackberry was the device of choice for people at every level of the business world. Today, it’s practically unheard of for anyone to own one. Never has a company fallen so far, so fast. Losing the Signal tells the fascinating story of Blackberry’s domination of the workforce, through the short-sightedness of its executive team, and finally to its total downfall.
27. Team Genius: The New Science of High-Performing Organizations
Rich Karlgaard and Michael S. Malone
Over the last few years, tons of research has been done on team behavior, only to reveal that much of today’s wisdom regarding teamwork is nothing more than wishful thinking. In Team Genius, authors Rich Karlgaard and Michael S. Malone use the new research to create a blueprint for creating more effective teams. Interestingly, much of their thesis hinges on the idea that human beings are naturally programmed to form teams, and that it has been teamwork that has proved to be the critical factor in every point of the rise of civilization. Team Genius is well written and interesting, and purists will love that it is all backed up with scientific facts and figures.
28. The Go-Giver, Expanded Edition: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea
Bob Burg and John David Mann
The little book The Go-Giver may be an easy read, but it is highly engaging and chock-full of lessons on sales, business, and even living. Authors Bob Burg and John David Mann contend that when we change our focus from getting to giving and put others’ interests first, we continually add value to our lives and ultimately enjoy many more unexpected returns. Their advice comes in many engaging forms and include gems like: “Go looking for the best in people and you’ll be amazed at how much talent, ingenuity, empathy, and goodwill you’ll find. Ultimately, the world treats you more or less the way you expect to be treated.”
29. The School of Greatness: A Real-World Guide to Living Bigger, Loving Deeper, and Leaving a Legacy
Lewis Howes’ The School of Greatness is a must-read for a recent graduate or anyone new to the world of business. Consistently interesting and helpful, Howes solidifies himself as a worthy and inspirational role model for young entrepreneurs. Using real life examples and experiences from his own life, Howes tells readers how they can discover their own purpose in life, and build effective strategies for achieving it by understanding how other exceptional people have done so in their own lives.
30. Men Explain Things to Me
Issues concerning women in the workplace are hot topics these days, so women in the business world are sure to get a kick out of bestselling author Rebecca Solnit’s new book Men Explain Things to Me. Through seven short, well-written, and often hilarious essays, Solnit accurately illustrates the different ways men and women attempt to communicate. According to Inc.com, Solnit’s book holds value for both male and female readers; while women will read it and realize that men really do discount what women say because they’re female, male readers will learn to easily recognize when they are “mansplaining” and, let’s face it, making a fool of themselves.