With each new season bestselling author and Wharton professor Adam Grant helpfully offers his picks for the best recently released books. He’s a voracious and thoughtful reader so his list is always a great place to start if you’re looking to load up on new reading material. But his reading recommendations are particularly welcome this time of year.
With cold weather setting in, long nights to fill, and holiday breaks on the horizon, we’re entering the best season for reading (in my humble opinion at least). Plus, books make great gifts. So whether you’re looking to check a hard-to-buy-for name off your list or in the market for a great new title to curl up with under a cozy blanket, check out Grant’s latest recommendations below for a little holiday reading inspiration.
1. Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown
Grant apparently wasn’t the only one eagerly awaiting this book by the celebrated therapist and TED star (the rest of us can get our hands on it starting November 30th). “It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a book skyrocket to #1 on Amazon three months before launch–and that might well underestimate the power of this book,” he writes.
2. The Sweet Spot by Paul Bloom
“Get ready to rethink your vision of a good life,” says Grant of this book. “With sharp insights and lucid prose, a prominent psychologist makes a captivating case that pain and suffering are essential to happiness. It’s an exhilarating antidote to toxic positivity.” Sounds like a message lots of us could benefit from hearing after the last couple of years.
3. The Book of Hope by Jane Goodall
Climate news got you down? (Yeah, me too). Then Grant recommends this book by the legendary primatologist, claiming it “gives us four reasons to believe in a better future: the intelligence of our minds, nature’s resilience, the power of youth, and the indomitable spirit of humanity.”
4. The Power of Flexing by Susan Ashford
Grant notes that Ashford, a management professor, is “the only speaker I know who has ever gotten a standing ovation at an academic conference–for a talk on Thelma & Louise as career role models, no less!” Her research changed the trajectory of Grant’s career and her book “is filled with clear, actionable insights about how to get better feedback, learn more rapidly, and speak up more effectively,” he writes.
5. Out of Office by Anne Helen Petersen and Charlie Warzel
This book by a pair of journalists who left their jobs in Manhattan to move to Montana and launch their own newsletters (both of which are great, by the way) “examines what it takes to make remote work work–not just for companies, but for people,” according to Grant.
6. Impact Players by Liz Wiseman
Here’s a suggestion for young strivers from Grant: “If you want to stand out early in your career, start here. A top tech exec turned thought leader highlights the practical, often surprising habits that will help you reach your potential and make your mark.”
7. Why Design Matters by Debbie Millman
The celebrated podcaster and design expert Debbie Millman collects some of the most memorable conversations from her show’s 15-year run in this book, including interviews with Brené Brown, Alain de Botton, Tim Ferriss, Malcolm Gladwell, Seth Godin, Priya Parker, Esther Perel, and Simon Sinek.
8. How to Talk to a Science Denier by Lee McIntyre
This unfortunately timely book by a philosopher might just arm you to deal with your least scientifically literate relative this holiday season. “This is a good book about how to have discussions with people who are skeptical of rigorous evidence but gullible on unsubstantiated conspiracy theories,” notes Grant.
9. Speaking of Race by Celeste Headlee
Think it’s impossible to have a constructive conversation about race in America that doesn’t divide or polarize? Grant swears this book teaches you how. “Whether you’ve been avoiding the topic altogether or stumbling your way through it, this journalist is the ideal teacher to help you learn how to have better conversations about race,” he writes.
10. Beyond Happiness by Jenn Lim
A particularly intriguing pick for entrepreneurs, this book from “the cofounder of Delivering Happiness with Tony Hsieh shares how companies can define their values and purpose and build a sense of community,” Grant explains.
11. All About Me! by Mel Brooks
Coming out at the end of the month, this autobiography from “the legend behind many of the funniest movies of all time–from The Producers, Blazing Saddles, and Young Frankenstein to Spaceballs and Robin Hood: Men in Tights” is full of both hilarity and wisdom, according to Grant.
12. Will by Will Smith
Another autobiography by a Hollywood legend. Will Smith’s memoir, written with the help of Mark Manson (author of the bestseller The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck), has been getting surprisingly rave reviews. Oprah Winfrey called it “the best memoir I’ve ever read.”
13. Going There by Katie Couric
“America’s Sweetheart opens up about her work, her life, and what really happened behind the scenes of some of the most pivotal events in modern history. She’s bracingly honest and characteristically funny,” says Grant of this book.
14. Play Nice But Win by Michael Dell
Looking for a more business-focused autobiography? “This is the saga of how one of the great founders of our era launched his company, grew it, got it back, and rejuvenated it,” Grant explains.
15. No One Wins Alone by Mark Messier
Grant closes out his run of recommending memoirs with this one from Mark Messier, who he claims “isn’t just one of the best hockey players ever–he’s also a keen observer of leadership and teamwork dynamics.” This book isn’t only for sports fans but for anyone interested in “building cultures of excellence,” according to Grant.
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