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Tim Peter


December 9, 2010

2010 Business Book Gift Guide: 10 Great Books to Give this Holiday Season

December 9, 2010 | By | No Comments

If you’re anything like me, you struggle with two things:

  1. Knowing what gifts to give during the holidays; and,
  2. Finding great stuff to read

So, this year, the thinks team (that’s me, myself, and I), got together and decided help you out with both challenges. These books are among the best ones I’ve read this year. And while they’re not all, technically, business books, you – and those on your gift-giving lists – can learn valuable lessons from each. And, they’re all enjoyable reads. Some, I’ve reviewed previously and, where applicable, have included a link to their review. And now, without further ado, here is The thinks 2010 Business Book Holiday Gift Guide:

  1. I’ve often mentioned my man-crush on John Jantsch. This year, he reciprocates by gifting us with “The Referral Engine: Teaching Your Business to Market Itself”. Excellent tips designed for small business owners, that anyone in business can apply to their work practices, too. Great stuff from a great writer.
  2. Innovation is one of those areas where we all want to improve, but where can you find good ideas for generating good ideas? Why, right here in “Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation” by Steven Johnson. Johnson breaks innovation down into 7 patterns you can put into practice to help nurture your good ideas into great ones.
  3. What’s a business book round-up without Seth Godin? Well, not much of a business book round-up, for one thing. Fortunately, Seth came through again this year with “Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?”. Building on Daniel Pink’s explorations in “A Whole New Mind,” Godin explains why we’re all artists now – and why that matters. Time Magazine once said of Seth, “It’s easy to see why people pay to hear what he has to say.” “Linchpin” shows us once more.
  4. How we – and our customers – choose among the myriad options available to us each day makes for surprisingly entertaining, and enlightening, reading as seen in “The Art of Choosing” by Sheena Iyengar. About the only negative I can point to is that I now I’m wondering if this guide gives you too many choices. Hmm…
  5. Switching gears for a moment, no matter what choice you make, getting the people around you to embrace that choice, and the changes it entails, is an art unto itself. Fortunately, “Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard” by the remarkable Heath brothers, Chip and Dan, helps you help them through those changes. You can also read my full review of Chip and Dan Heath’s “Switch” here.
  6. One of the most important changes you can make in your business is the one that differentiates you from your competition. Youngme Moon delivered an outstanding guide on how you can be different and escape the competitive herd with her book called, um, “Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd”. You can also read my full review of “Different” here.
  7. Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson’s “Rework” earns its brief title. It is a quick, interesting read that will help you rethink what you know about work. And, yes, you can read my full review of Rework, too.
  8. Behavioral economist Dan Ariely’s “The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home” examines in detail how neither markets nor people are altogether rational and how you can sometimes put that irrationality to work for you. I’ve previously reviewed Ariely’s “Predictably Irrational”, and his new work is every bit as enjoyable and entertaining as the first.
  9. Here’s a question for the ages: Where do the people who created Wikipedia find the time? I mean, seriously, who has that kind of time on their hands? Actually, it seems we all do. As pointed out in Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age
    by Clay Shirky
    , there’s a lot more mental energy lying around waiting to be harnessed than you’d think. Even better, Shirky offers great suggestions on how to put it to work for you.
  10. Finally, do you need to motivate your employees? Your kids? Yourself? Check out “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” by Daniel Pink. Pink looks deep into what makes people act and provides a clear toolkit you can use to improve both your motivations and those of the people around you. As I mentioned in my earlier review of “Drive”, it’s not a perfect book. But I got a lot out of it and expect you will, too.

Still want more? Don’t forget to check out my list of the 12 most important business books of the last 10 years. And while these aren’t business books, I also thoroughly enjoyed reading both “Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime”
by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin
and “Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory” by Ben Macintyre this year. Entertaining, fascinating and frequently funny, both books look at the stresses and successes in two major projects (one, winning the presidency, the other, winning World War II). Great “light” reading if you want to step outside your own reality for bit.

I hope you enjoy your holidays, Big Thinkers. Take some time to curl up in front of a warm fire with one of these extraordinary reads – or share them with your team – and get ready for a very happy – and successful – New Year.

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  1. Excellent read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing some research on that. And he just bought me lunch because I found it for him smile Thus let me rephrase that: Thank you for lunch!

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