30 Great Business, Leadership, and Personal Development Books on Adam Grant’s Fall Reading List

As Adam Grant likes to say, “Leaders who don’t have time to read are leaders who don’t make time to learn.”

That’s why he periodically shares lists of upcoming books he thinks might make a real difference in how you think and act. (Here’s a link to his original post.)

Since I’ve also read advance copies of some of the books on this year’s list, let’s start with the books I also wholeheartedly recommend:

Margaret Heffernan (September 8)

While the past is often a great guide to the future, Heffernan shows how to go a step farther and prepare for the unexpected.

Sounds like a pretty timely read to me.

Based on Raz’s popular podcast, How I Built This is full of real-world lessons for building and growing a business.

And for making sure that business is built to last.

As the leader of Google’s product inclusion team, Jean-Baptiste knows a little about the importance of diversity — and how tapping into diverse backgrounds and opinions helps create products or services that have broad appeal.

A fascinating look at human nature, at attention and focus, at game theory — applied much more broadly than to just games — that can help you make better decisions.

And how to better learn from the outcomes of those decisions and keep moving forward.

Think philosophers can’t teach you a thing or two about how to live a happier, more fulfilled life? If you’re a fan of Ryan Holiday’s Stoic philosophy books, The Socrates Express is right up your alley.

Jay Shetty (September 8)

Once you’ve finished The Socrates Express, jump right into Think Like a Monk.  

If you want to add a greater sense of meaning and purpose to your life, that is.

Lisa Feldman Barrett (November 17)

Your mind doesn’t work the way you think it does. As Grant writes, “Get ready to have your mind blown as she takes you through the science behind some of her most startling ideas — beginning with her argument that the purpose of the brain is not to think.”

(Based on some of the decisions I’ve made, my brain is clearly fulfilling its purpose.)

And now for the books on Adam’s list I haven’t read (descriptions for each are Adam’s): 

Shellye Archambeau (October 6)

As one of the first Black women to become a CEO in Silicon Valley, Shellye is a trailblazer. She shares powerful lessons from her experience on confronting impostor syndrome, taking risks, building relationships and reputations, and making sure that work doesn’t consume life.

David Chang (September 8)

Dave is one of the most beloved chefs on earth, but his bracingly honest memoir isn’t just for foodies. It’s for anyone who has ever felt like an underdog or an underachiever–or aspires to become an entrepreneur or a more decent person.

John Cleese (September 8)

The comedian and writer behind Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, and A Fish Called Wanda pulls back the curtain on his own creative process and hilariously teaches you how to jump-start yours.

Kara Goldin (October 20)

Many people are dreamers, but Kara is also a doer. Reflecting on her impressive track record of beating the odds, she shows how entrepreneurs can build better products, marketers can build better brands, and leaders can build better companies.

What separates great innovators from the rest of us is not so much the creativity of their ideas as the consistency of their execution. Seth is a master of finishing what he starts, and his engrossing book gives us the tools we need to follow his lead.

Juan Enriquez (October 13)

A life sciences venture capitalist offers a guide for making sure that our ethics don’t fall behind our technological progress.

Roger Martin (September 29)

As one of the world’s leading thinkers on strategy, Roger delivers a message that’s as timely as it is important: Efficiency is overrated. He offers a road map for reinventing democratic capitalism and designing economies for resilience.

Lee Vinsel and Andrew Russell (September 8)

Two historians of technology challenge us to ask an urgent question: What if we invested as much in maintenance, care, and upkeep as we do in growth, change, and disruption? 

As a senior leader at IDEO, Fred has helped some of the world’s most powerful people have more productive conversations. Reading this book feels like being engaged in a direct conversation with him as he offers sage advice on how we can all stop talking past each other.

Martha S. Jones (September 8)

A historian covers a vital but neglected wave of the suffrage movement, profiling the Black women who persisted in the face of racism as well as sexism to move America closer to our ideal of equality.

A diversity and inclusion consultant opens up about the discrimination she faced, the nervous breakdown she encountered, and what she’s learned about creating more just, more equitable workplaces.

Claudia Rankine (September 8)

An award-winning poet and playwright explores how we can move past silence and start building bridges across racial and political divides. It’s an arresting, thought-provoking work of art.

Andrew Reiner (December 1)

Too many boys grow up believing that “be a man” means “be a jerk.” Andrew Reiner offers a compelling alternative, where we teach boys to take responsibility for their mistakes, treat others with dignity and compassion, and approach life as a team sport.

Kelly Watson and Jodi Ecker Detjen (February 9)

A candid, readable, and useful book about how we can get past talking about gender bias and actually start doing something about it.

Carl Bergstrom and Jevin West 

A pair of science experts introduce a series of tools to help you recognize fake news, bad data, misinformation, and disinformation.

The behavioral economics and law expert best known for Nudge makes a convincing case that policy should focus less on what we have the right to know and more on what knowledge will improve our lives.

Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas (October 6)

Of all the known ways to ruin humor, the most common start with the words “research,” “analyze,” and “professor.” The bad news is that this book features all of those words … prominently. The good news is that against all odds, you’ll actually have fun reading it. It probably won’t turn you into Ali Wong, Dave Chappelle, or Hannah Gadsby, but it will give you a window into how they think–and teach you some new ways to make people laugh.

Jerry Seinfeld (October 6)

It was called a show about nothing, but this is a book about everything. For 45 years, he’s saved every joke he’s ever written; now, for the first time, he’s compiled his greatest hits.

Bea Boccalandro (November 24)

The founder and head of a global consulting firm presents a manual for making work meaningful that’s both actionable and enjoyable to read.

Dan Cable (September 22)

Athletes achieve excellence by compiling and studying their personal highlight reels, and there’s no reason why the rest of us can’t do the same thing. In this buoyant, evidence-backed book, a leading researcher shows us how.

John Mackey, Steve McIntosh, and Carter Phipps (September 15)

The Whole Foods founder is living proof that we don’t have to choose between purpose and profits. He and his colleagues offer the practical guidance leaders need to build businesses that do well by doing good and prioritize lifetime impact over quarterly earnings.

Christopher Marquis (September 13)

An expert on corporate responsibility busts myths about shareholder primacy and reveals how it’s possible for companies to integrate social impact into their missions. This may well be the book that puts teeth in the B Corp movement.

Anne Helen Petersen (September 22)

A media scholar builds on her viral BuzzFeed article to examine why Millennials are burning out. As one of the most insightful culture critics of our time, Anne explains how individuals, organizations, and societies can prevent emotional exhaustion.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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