Whether you turn pages, tap a tablet, or listen to audio, a good book can be a perfect relaxation aid, tutor, or source of inspiration. Here are quotes from more than two dozen executives who name their favorite book and explain why it’s worth your attention.
1. The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande
“A quick and illustrative book that shows just how powerful well-designed and properly implemented checklists can be in reducing mistakes in all kinds of fields. I’ve been on many mountaineering adventures where your life depends on a good checklist to make sure ropes, harnesses, and equipment are properly set up. Not everything in life needs a checklist, but we see every day how they can deliver results. When you’re boarding a plane, you see pilots working through a number of preflight checklists to make sure everything is in order and no steps are overlooked. At our fast-growing business, checklists that we continue to tweak are critical in building repeatable and scalable processes. Gawande sums it up well: ‘You want people to make sure to get the stupid stuff right. Yet you also want to leave room for craft and judgment and the ability to respond to unexpected difficulties that arise along the way.’ No matter how good the checklists, they themselves cannot make anyone follow them.”
2. The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz
“The book is marketed as ‘a practical guide to personal freedom,’ but in a work setting I use it to check myself when I’m trying to solve a problem, listen to criticism, give constructive feedback, or resolve a conflict. The agreements–don’t gossip, don’t take things personally, don’t make assumptions, and do your best–help me start from a rational position of trying to understand the issue at hand, without bringing any negative mental baggage that may come along naturally if I weren’t aware of them. I also use the Four Agreements framework to analyze conflicts, so I can understand why someone may be reacting in a negative or emotional way and to help me remain calm if I’m involved in the conflict.”
3. The Only Game in Town: Central Banks, Instability, and Avoiding the Next Collapse by Mohamed A. El-Erian
“During my time on Wall Street, I witnessed both high and low times. If you want to understand the modern global economy, you should read this book. El-Erian is an incredibly clear thinker and explains complex ideas in an articulate way that is understandable to the financial novice while engaging to a seasoned industry veteran. Although no one can predict the future, this book comes close.”
4. The Varieties of Human Experience by William James
“I graduated from high school at age 16. I honestly think the teachers pushed me ahead because they couldn’t put up with me anymore! I used my GI Bill benefits to enroll in college. In one of my psychology classes, I was exposed to William James, the father of modern psychology. He once said, ‘If you can change your thinking, you can change your life.’ And that really resonated with me, so I sought to begin a program in self-mastery. I started reading everything I could get my hands on about successful people. What were their thoughts, habits, and philosophies? It didn’t take long to discover that my upbringing wasn’t in alignment. Once I realized that, I gradually shifted into an entrepreneurial mindset, and I proved James’s theory correct. William James really made me aware of what I had been thinking and truly opened my eyes to examining the crippling power and control of the past.”
5. Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer
“An amazing investigation into the world of competitive memorization that turns into an in-depth study on the capacity, and limitations, of the human mind. The book provides a real appreciation for how our brains work that I find massively applicable in both my work and personal life. A must-read!”
Buy any of these books and inspire yourself.