7 essential business books for your summer reading

The summer holiday season is almost upon us. It’s the time for relaxation by the pool, a relaxing fishing trip at a remote cabin, or a comfy lounge chair in the back garden.

But in addition to the much needed R&R that accompanies those lazy days of summer, it’s a great time to top up your professional skills. And it is possible to combine a little work with pleasure, with our recommended summer reading list.

Many of these have been topping the list of the New York Times bestsellers for a while now (some for a couple of years – we make no apologies for the repeats…they were great reads a few years ago and are still worth it now).

Here are 7 books that really need to be on your summer reading list:

#1: The Power of Habit

By Charles Duhigg

Written by New York Times report Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit draws on neuroscience and applied psychology to explore how we form habits and how we can change them. Essential reading for anyone trying to make process excellence a habit in any organization!

Get thee to a bookstore!

#2: Thinking, Fast and Slow

By Daniel Kahneman

What makes us behave and believe the way we do? The answer, not surprisingly, according to this book, lies in the way that our brains work. Kahneman hypothesizes that our brain has two different systems that we rely upon: one that’s intuitive (and fast – good for escaping from a sabre tooth tiger) and one that’s more logical (but slow and hard work!). The trouble is that we tend to favour the faster, more intuitive system which leads to a skewed sense of reality. Some really fascinating examples of brain research and and if you like statistics – as we expect all you black belts out there do - you’ll love the second part of this book!

#3: Outliers

By Malcolm Gladwell

Another book with some statistical references. An outlier is a data point that is so different from the rest of the data that it either represents an error or a very rare occurrence.

In Outliers, Gladwell uses the term to refer to people that go on to find incredible success as he explores why they are so different from the rest of us. What he finds – whether it’s successful hockey players or tech entrepreneurs – will surprise you. Entertaining and thoughtful book that will make you look differently at the root causes as to why things are the way they are.

#4: Like a Virgin: Secrets they won’t teach you at business school

By: Richard Branson

He started off in business running a record company and has ended up presiding over a multinational conglomerate that includes an airline, train network, telecommunications carrier, financial services organization, fitness gyms and more. The book, written as a collection of essays and observations over the years, recounts Branson’s unique perspectives on what really matters in business and leadership and the importance of the customer to everything the company does. Lots of entertaining lessons in there on what it takes to succeed in today’s business world and great ideas on creating a company that excels at what it does.

#5: The Second Machine Age

By: Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee

The first industrial revolution – characterized by big heavy machinery – brought with it rapid social and economic changes. According to the authors of this book - Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee from MIT - we’re now entering a second revolution. This one, though, is driven by software and digital technology. For anyone interested in how the incredible advances we’ve seen in technology in recent years is set to impact our work and personal lives, this is definitely recommended summer reading.

#6: Caterpillar Way: Lessons in Leadership, Growth and Shareholder Value

By: Craig T. Bouchard and James V. Koch

What does it take to come back from the brink? In the 1980’s machine manufacturer Caterpillar was losing one million dollars a day…for three consecutive years! So how did they go on to become one of the most successful manufacturer of construction and mining equipment and large engines? This book looks at what it took to turnaround the company. One word of advice, though, don’t read this expecting to get insight into the Caterpillar version of the Toyota Way. It’s not that sort of book….

#7: Quick and Nimble

By: Adam Bryant

How do the leaders of Zappos, LinkedIn, and other top performing organizations create a company culture that fosters innovation and unleashes the passion of employees? That’s what author Adam Bryant explores in his interviews with more than 200 CEOs. Get insight into the minds of people running some of the best companies on the planet.

Which ones have you read? Are you reading any great books right now that you’d recommend to others?