Ok, so lots of people like to cozy up with a good novel on the beach. If that is the only type of book you like to read during the summer, this list is not for you. This list was meant for those who wouldn’t mind reading something that might make them a little more productive, a little more knowledgeable and a little surprised.

My criteria was simple. To make the list, the book had to meet these standards:

  • It must be less than 300 pages.
  • It must be based on research.
  • It must have the potential to make you think differently.

  1. Think Like a Freak by Chip Heath and Dan Heath – If you liked Freakonomics and Super Freakonomics, Think Like a Freak is exactly what you’ve been waiting for since they last published. Learn why the average American adult is 25 pounds heavier than just 30 years ago. Read about the amazing problem-solving skills of…kids! Understand how paying your employees to quit can actually increase employee engagement.
  2. The Small Big by Steve Martin, Noah Goldstein and Robert Cialdini – Many people know Cialdini from his previous book on the science of influencing. This time, he’s back with the same topic and several colleagues to tell us how small changes can lead to big influences. The average chapter is no more than 3-4 pages and offers some practical tips on effecting circumstances in your favor. You’ll learn why having the cleaning staff work during the day will make for a cleaner office and how to get more people to donate to your favorite charity.
  3. Everything Bad is Good for You by Steven Johnson – After reading this, you just might change your mind on a few things most of think are bad for us. For instance, you may want your kids to play MORE video games, not less. You may consider how TV could be good for you and your kids. And, you might think more highly of popular culture…
  4. Weird Ideas that Work by Robert Sutton – The author, a well-known, professor at Stanford University turns eleven (and a half) common business practices on their heads. You will never look at hiring and teaming the same way. You will learn to embrace, celebrate and reward failure. And, you’ll learn to ignore your past successes.
  5. ‘Til the Streetlights Came On by Daniel Porter – Return to a time before we had graduation ceremonies for kindergarten, travel sports teams and scheduled play dates. Porter weaves a fantastic story that teaches some important lessons about letting kids learn socialization by creating their own games on their own time. You won’t find any references to Ron Burgundy but you will smile with this great story of resilience and a simpler time.

Happy reading.


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