Are books a novelty of the past or can they still provide value for the men and women in business today?

Have you read any good books lately? It’s no secret that books hold a wealth of information, but here in the digital age, it’s easy to dismiss books in favor of podcasts, popular blogs, and social media. But, according to Inc., CEOs read an average of one book a week, totaling about 52 books a year. If books are good enough for CEOs, certainly they still hold a lot of value for the rest of us too.  

So if you’re in business or aspiring to climb the ladder into the CEO chair, how does your reading game measure up?

With so many formats like classic paperbacks, audio versions, and eBooks for Kindle, anything you could ever hope to learn really is right at your fingertips however you prefer to digest it. To help you get started, here are 10 books covering popular topics like marketing, ethics, and communication that every serious business person should at least spend some time skimming.

  1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People sounds a bit like a blog post or infomercial, doesn’t it? Yet, this book provides a truly in-depth look at how to function effectively that will require time and thoughtfulness. Don’t rent it; buy it, because you’ll be reading it a second time.

  1. To Sell Is Human by Daniel Pink

This book is about what it means to sell and how to sell well. Pink explores how even those who aren’t “in sales” have to sell to people every day. Sounds dry? It really isn’t. One particularly interesting story tells of how adding the four words “It is springtime and” to a homeless man’s sign that said “I am blind” radically changed how people viewed him. It’s worth being surprised by To Sell Is Human.

  1. Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALS Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

Written by two U.S. Navy seals, this book is an exciting and easy read. The authors apply their knowledge of leading men into battle to leadership as a whole. By sharing incredible stories and expounding on the important aspects to take away, readers will be engaged and motivated to lead in their own vocations.

  1. Good to Great by Jim Collins

Have you wondered why good, just okay, and even crummy companies are successful? This is the book for you. With real life case studies and to-the-point advice, Collins identifies the elements that determine a company’s success. This book will help you understand the company where you’re at and how to improve it.

  1. Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler

Do you ever talk? You don’t? Well, then this book will be of no use to you. However, for all of the other people who do talk, Crucial Conversations will be a very beneficial resource. Often the most critical or emotionally charged conversations are unplanned; being prepared in advance is key to a healthy response. This book is useful both in and out of the office.

  1. Strengths Based Leadership (from Gallup) by Tom Rath

If you are reading this list, you are probably a leader or on your way to becoming a leader. The foundation of this book is a study asking the question: why do you follow the most important leader in your life? Rath starts from well-researched data and expounds on what strengths true leaders must develop.

  1. Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle

Business people will forever have to make tough ethical decisions. This book provides an opportunity to wrestle with how we ought to live. Aristotle has been one of the most influential figures in Western thought, so he is always relevant to the here and now. If you already read Nicomachean Ethics in college, consider The Republic by Plato instead.

  1. The Competitive Advantage of Nations by Michael E. Porter

This book is not your typical how-to guide, but it is incredibly important. It explores a theory of competitiveness based on a nation’s productivity, institutional “clusters,” and macroeconomics. As if that doesn’t sound important enough, Porter’s research has helped shape national policies around the globe. Because globalization is a reality in business, you need a firm grasp on business that extends beyond your own backyard. For those who want even more of Porter, read Competition, Competitive Advantage, and Clusters.

  1. Purple Cow by Seth Godin

People have to see you! This is the premise of Godin’s guide to successfully doing just about everything in business, particularly marketing. Godin makes his ideas very accessible. Written in a conversational tone, Purple Cow explains the importance of being unique (as an individual and a company) in order to get noticed.

  1. The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White

Writing is a key part of functioning in business; you might have great ideas, but it doesn’t matter if you can’t articulate them. At only 43 pages long, this book is designed to help writers of all professions write more concisely and clearly. For practical help that will endure through all the trends and fads, read Strunk and White.

Out of our recommended reading list, how many of these books have you already read? Are there any that you’re committing to read in the new year? We’ve love to hear from you. Share your thoughts with us over on Facebook or Twitter and perhaps we can even swap recommendations!

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