The Best Business Books of 2013

Lee Polevoi by Lee Polevoi on December 31, 2013
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The holidays afford many busy professionals a bit of downtime. Why not seize the opportunity to catch up on some of the most popular and critically praised business books of 2013?

Here are our seven top picks, from a close-up view of Jeff Bezos and Amazon to a peek at new ways to make key decisions.

The Everything Store by Brad Stone (Little, Brown and Company) — Stone, a journalist, obtained unprecedented access to current and former Amazon employees and Bezos family members to pen this unauthorized account of the company. In it, Stone recounts the rise of Bezos, whose vision and drive made Amazon the quintessential internet success story it is today. The result is a unique look behind the curtain of the company that has defined e-commerce in our time.

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg (Knopf) — The Facebook COO’s buzz-worthy book triggered spirited debates around the issues many women face in today’s workplace. Through extensive research and autobiographical anecdotes, Sandberg urges women to “lean in” at the office to overcome the obstacles on their path to success. More than any other business book published this year, Lean In drew praise and criticism from readers of both genders.  

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown and Company) — The best-selling author and New Yorker staff writer looks at how societal changes have altered our concepts of “advantage” and “disadvantage.” Using such examples as T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia) and Martin Luther King Jr., in addition to the classic story of David and Goliath, Gladwell shows how individuals have exploited their “underdog” status to prevail in a wide range of pursuits.

Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier (Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) — The authors — a professor of internet governance and regulation at Oxford’s Internet Institute and Data Editor of the Economist, respectively — explore the “hottest trend in technology” and its impact on business, science, and society at large. The emerging science of big data, as in our ability to collect and analyze vast amounts of information, will lead us to new ways of thinking about the economy, health, politics, and innovation.

Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam M. Grant (Viking Adult)— In the past, success was defined by talent, hard work, and luck. Today, contends Grant, a professor at the Wharton School, success depends on “how we interact with others.” In the workplace, people act as “takers, matchers or givers.” Grant’s book explores the ways these different styles work together, creating the power to transform organizations and communities.

Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work by Chip and Dan Heath (Crown Business) — The decision-making process is riddled with personal biases and irrationalities. In Decisive, the Heath brothers provide a comprehensive analysis of “decision-making literature” and outline a four-step process to thwart the effects of those biases. Through their accounts of decisions made by CEOs and rock stars, the book discusses how to make the right choice at the right time.

Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger (Simon & Schuster) — Why do some things resonate with consumers and others don’t? What makes some online content go viral? In Contagious, Wharton professor Berger examines the reasons why certain products and ideas catch on like wildfire. He also offers advice on how to spread your message in ways that will resonate with your target audience.

Lee Polevoi

Lee Polevoi is an award-winning business writer specializing in the challenges and opportunities facing small business. He is former Senior Writer at Vistage International, a global membership organization of CEOs.

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