Adam Grant chooses 20 reading books to read in 2020

Leaders and managers have a lot of exciting reading next year

I am constantly amazed by the number of leaders and managers who say they are so busy reading. Leaders who do not have time to read are leaders who do not have time to learn.

One typical complaint: “There are a lot of books, and most of them are not worth my time!” To take this excuse off the list, I spent part of my vacation looking for leaders and newcomers.

To start this decade, here are my top picks for books that have the potential to have a lasting impact on your thoughts and actions. The main topics: problem solving, relationships, work and life rhythms, identity, and happiness. *

Solving Problems

  1. Think like a rocket scientist by Ozan Farol (14 April)

A rocket scientist turned law professor makes his amazing first appearance. It is an engaging reading full of practical insights to think differently from problems. Houston, this book has solutions.

  1. What is your problem? By Thomas Wiedel Fedsburg (March 17)

Structure is not an enemy to solve problems; it is actually a resource. The innovation expert provides a framework that will not only help you generate more creative ideas and make smarter decisions – it will teach you to see those around you.

  1. Sourced by Dan Heath (March 3)

Now that you have the best problem solving remedy, it is time to know how to prevent it from occurring in the first place. The co-author of my favorite book on Change, Switch, has a real gift to finding captivating stories, using them to illustrate compelling evidence, and weave them into useful patterns.

  1. Clearer, closer, better than Emily Balsitis (Feb 25)

This amazing book, from a New York University psychologist who studies vision and perception, is full of bright ideas and exciting studies. It may change how you see what you see.


  1. Together from Vivek Murthy (April 28)

As the US Surgeon General appointed by President Obama, one of VIVIC’s major contributions has been to draw attention to the unitary epidemic that is undermining mental health and social well-being. His long-awaited book examines the causes of loneliness and how we can overcome it by building community and communication.

  1. Friendship by Lydia Dunnorth (Jan 28)

Friendships exist across cultures, centuries, and even species. A popular science journalist explains why the links we make up are just not fun – they’re vital.

  1. Social Chemistry Marisa King (June)

When it comes to personal and professional networks, quantity and quality are underestimated. Yale University’s leading sociologist outlines three different approaches to improving the quality of your communications – expansion, brokerage, and advocacy – and reveals how you can define and adapt your style.

  1. All you have to do is ask by Wayne Baker (Jan 14)

Baker taught me one of the most important lessons from my career: The biggest obstacle to generosity is not the unwillingness of others to provide it, but we are afraid to ask it. As a University of Michigan sociologist specializing in organizational networks, he demonstrates how we can become more skilled at submitting applications and more comfortable in receiving assistance.

  1. You Do Not Listen To Kate Murphy (Jan 7)

If you love most people, you won’t listen to it as much or like it. No one is better qualified than a talented journalist to show you the right mindset and skills – this book does science and humor.

Work and life rhythms

10 – Tightrope Posted by Nicholas Christoph and Sherrill Wooden (Jan 14)

Pulitzer Prize-winning authors paint a vivid and painful picture of the challenges facing the American countryside. When choosing where Hilly Eligy and strangers stop in their land, they track how public policies have harmed working-class families and reflect on the possibilities of change.

  1. Life in Transition Bruce Feller (May 12)

The changes in our lives are fraught with uncertainty but filled with opportunity. As a journalist who combines his business and story sharing, Feiler provides the tools to rewrite your articles.

  1. A Week 4 Days by Andrew Barnes and Stephanie Jones (Jan 20)

The five-day work week is an arbitrary human invention. A New Zealand entrepreneur knows that in many jobs people can be productive – and more creative – working four days a week. After transforming his company and sparking a global conversation about flexible work, Barnes offers a roadmap to cut business hours by 20% at your workplace.

  1. Do Nothing by Celeste Headley (Mar 10)

A strong case that productivity is not an inherent virtue – if you are not keen, you may become a vice. If you’ve ever felt compelled to work harder, then this book by a longtime radio host and journalist is a clear call to work smarter instead – because sometimes you do more with less work.

Identity and happiness

  1. Strange by Olga Reservoir (April 7)

If you’ve ever felt like a stranger or a weirdo, you’ve had the downside of being a stranger – but there are sudden fluctuations. The Atlantic writer has an impressive track record of shedding light on the mysteries of human psychology, and as a Russian immigrant who grew up in West Texas, she is well aware that the same factors that prevent you from adapting can finally help you stand out.

  1. Totally Confident Without Moore (May 5)

In every decision you make and every goal you set, there are two easy ways to fail: to have a little confidence and to have a lot. As a psychologist in Berkeley, Don Moore spent his career studying how to find the beautiful place, and his book is full of data-driven guidance to make more accurate assessments of your abilities and opportunities.

  1. Joy at Work by Mary Condo and Scott Sonenshein (April 7)

Finding joy at work is not magic – it takes action. But it might seem more like playing thanks to practical advice from a professional organizer and management professor at Rice.

Notes and biography

  1. Have a peach by David Chang (April 21)

The famous chef behind Momofuku and Ugly Delicious prepares honestly and modestly. His relentless pursuit of self-improvement and social contribution will make you hungry to do more in your life.

  1. Myself More by Alicia Keys (Mar 31)

The award-winning musician, actor, producer, entrepreneur and activist opens up about perfection, courage, privacy and identity.

  1. Powershift by Diamond John (March 10)

Shark Tank superstar and FUBU founder share lessons of experience building reputation and relationships.

  1. The Rise of Lindsay Phone (March 24)

In the wake of her retirement, the Olympic champ reflects on an epic career as the most ornate skier in American history.

Malcolm Gladwell, Susan Caen, Dan Pink, and I’m reading some of these books now for consideration for the Next Big Idea Club Winter and Spring Funds Club, a book club that offers discussions with authors in an online community and donates books to schools in resource-poor societies.

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