What We’re Reading: Business Picks from Our Team

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For Read Across America Day, we asked the Business.org team what they’re reading. We’ve got a ton of different options, and maybe you’ll find the next thing for your business bookshelf.

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski

The number one recommended book from our team was Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily and Amelia Nagoski. The book examines burnout and helps readers “end the cycle of feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.”

Three of our team members recommend it: Laura West, managing editor; Rachel Cottam, director of editorial strategy; and Kylie McQuarrie, business accounting senior staff writer. “It’s a validating read for anyone who’s ever felt ‘burnt out’ at work and doesn’t understand why taking a few vacation days never feels like enough to regain an equilibrium,” Kylie said.

The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee

Our senior content editor, Jenny Rollins, recommended The Sum of Us, which is about how the US economy tends to fail the public. From the 2008 financial crisis to student loan debt, the author Heather McGhee finds racism in US politics and policy-making as the root problem.

“It’s a wonderful book about institutional racism in the US being bad for everyone,” Jenny said, “including the people promoting it. This makes a great case for inclusive, diverse workplaces. It's very focused on finance and business and capitalism.”

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“The Hunt” from The New York Times

“I've been reading up on real estate stuff a lot!” Ian Agar, our senior human resources staff writer, said. “But from the buyer's perspective. The NY Times has this really fascinating series called ‘The Hunt’ that profiles a person's home-buying choices. It's interactive, as readers are asked to guess which of three homes the person bought. Then, it reveals the answer and talks about why the person likes it.”

The feature is illuminating fascinating and shares stories about people searching for real estate across the US. You’re able to see what homes are going for in different regions and what goes into home-buying decisions for consumers today.

Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant

Nicolle Okoren, our operations writer, recommends ​​Give and Take: “I feel like this [choice] is so basic, but it prioritizes putting people first. Greed is not the answer long term—even in a capitalistic society.”

The book details how other people can help us in our success. With evidence and stories, Grant wrote one of the most captivating and must-read business books.

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

“Tons of eye-opening research around talent, achievement, and perseverance. My biggest takeaway was the idea of coming up with a life vision statement and making that your long-term goal,” Rachel Cottam said.

In Grit, Duckworth writes about the secret to achievement: a “special blend of passion and persistence she calls ‘grit,’” according to the book's summary. In fact, grit is the hallmark of high achievers, and Duckworth uses scientific research and interviews with high achievers to prove her point.

Too Big to Fail: Inside the Battle to Save Wall Street by Andrew Ross Sorkin

My pick is Too Big to Fail: Inside the Battle to Save Wall Street by Andrew Ross Sorkin. It gives an hour-by-hour account of the 2008 economic crisis and the attempts to save the US economy.

It’s crazy to see the backroom meetings and phone calls that occurred as the economy was collapsing in 2008. But even more so, it’s crazy how much power these big financial institutions had and how the government wanted them to survive. Sorkin gets incredible access and insight and you can feel the tension in the days of the collapse.

Radical Candor: How to Get What You Want by Saying What You Mean by Kim Scott

A book with great advice for managers and business owners, Radical Candor is about being a good boss by “caring personally” and “challenging directly.” With those two ideas, you can cultivate better relationships at work and create a strong work environment.

“This book is really positioned towards managers,” Rachel said, “but the skill of caring enough to be critical/candid is valuable in any aspect of life.”

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Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Jenny and Laura both recommended this next book: Quiet. Cain uses both research and first-person accounts to explore the power of introverts in the world and how many introverts have shaped the world we live in today.

Jenny noted that it’s about “how being an introvert is not a bad thing. It mentions how to use that power in the workplace and in leadership.”

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown

“Brene Brown is a lifestyle now, but her first book left a real impression on me,” Rachel said. “She pushes for leaders who are authentically 100% themselves.”

Daring Greatly is about putting ourselves out there and going to places that may be uncomfortable. We all want to be seen and part of the work we find exciting, and Brown has created a guidebook for “letting ourselves be seen.” There is also a business alternative: Dare to Lead.

Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado-Perez

Invisible Women was recommended by both Kylie and Rachel, and it delves into the systemic ignorance that leaves out more than 50% of the global population: women. Using case studies, stories, and research, Perez shows the ways that women are excluded and ignored in a world designed for men.

In her recommendation, Kylie said Invisible Women is “an enraging, informative, and crucial read about the challenges of improving individual quality of life and fostering equality in society without the data to make lasting change.”

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The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

“[A] super sad but gorgeous historical fiction novel about the Great Depression and the massive effect it had on farmers in the West who were over-farming and getting dust pneumonia,” Jenny said. “They move to California to try to find work, but the capitalist companies are exploiting the workers and breaking any unions.”

The Four Winds takes us back in time to Texas in 1934 and looks back on the American Dream during the Great Depression.

Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America by Ijeoma Oluo

Jenny also recommended this book that examines history, business, and economics through a sociological lens to determine if an American meritocracy is possible.

Mediocre looks at power in our society—particularly the power of generations of white male leaders. “It’s an interesting thought experiment into what it would look like to promote a kind, thoughtful, diverse kind of leader in both business and politics,” Jenny said.

That’s What She Said: What Men Need to Know (and Women Need to Tell Them) About Working Together by Joanne Lipman

“[This book is] a great primer for men and women interested in the realities of gender inequality in the 2020s,” Rachel said. In That’s What She Said, Lipman “offers solutions to help professionals solve gender gap issues and achieve parity at work” in an easy-to-read book.

With anecdotes, data, and Lipman’s own story, That’s What She Said talks about empowering women in a way that’s “not in your face but very digestible,” according to Rachel.

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Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull

An inside look at Pixar and creativity in business, Creativity, Inc. is for everyone who wants to reach to infinity and beyond. Catmull is a born storyteller, and he had an inside look as one of the founders of Pixar.

“[This is] a super fascinating look into the growth of Pixar—plus an interesting evaluation of Steve Jobs as a leader. I connected most with building a culture that gives space for failure and risk-taking,” Rachel said.

How To Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell

Kylie described this book as “a thorough exploration of the current attention economy and what workers can do both individually and as a collective to regain our time and restore our right to non-work leisure time.”

How to Do Nothing is about winning back time in our lives—an important topic during the COVID-19 pandemic when the lines between work-life and home-life have blurred. The book is an “action plan” to take our place in the world.

The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict by the Arbinger Institute

“[It] teaches the skills of humility and empathy. Not the best writing in the world, but a good reminder that people are people, and you might be the problem,” Rachel said.

The Anatomy of Peace looks at conflict as coming from the same root causes and asks what we can do to solve our problems and achieve peace. It uses real-world examples to bring home the idea of peace as a possible solution. It also has a shorter companion: “Leadership and self-deception.”

Two more picks

  • Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
  • Work Won’t Love You Back: How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted, and Alone by Sarah Jaffe

The takeaway

There are tons of great business resources out there, and sometimes it can feel overwhelming. Our recommendations are just that—recommendations of books, articles, and series that we love and we think you’ll like them too.

With everything from real estate to finance, burnout to creativity, we’ve got you covered with something for everyone. So sit back, relax, and come learn with us.

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