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The 10 Best Business Books of 2017

If you’re into business books, you know that many of the best ones tell stories or offer perspectives that reach well beyond the world of work.

On the flip side of that, if you don’t think of yourself as a business book kind of person, you’re missing out on a lot of great reads. So maybe you don’t listen to podcasts about leadership on the treadmill at 5am before setting out for another day of leveraging synergies and moving the needle. That’s cool. I guarantee there are still loads of business books out there that you would love.

Among Bookwitty’s picks for 2017’s ten best business books, you’ll find a mix: some for general readers, a few for people seeking career advice, and a couple for the business gurus among us. We’ve curated this list based on our own favorites, taking some inspiration from both the FT & McKinsey Business Book of the Year 2017 longlist and Forbes’ 10 Best Books for Entrepreneurs in 2017. Here’s a quick overview:

For the general reader

Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics and Thomas L. Friedman’s Thank You for Being Late offer lively and deliciously intelligent perspectives on the state of the world today, along with suggestions for how we all might prosper in the future. 

Whether you are holding yours right now or have vowed never to own one, the iPhone has changed your life since its 2007 launch. In The One Device, Brian Merchant travels the world, bringing readers through design studios, mines, toxic waste pits, and factories, as he uncovers the iPhone’s life story.

To some people, “real life” includes the workplace, and to others, real life is what happens beyond it. Whichever perspective you take, three books on our list offer research-based advice that apply to your real life and can help you make real changes: Tasha Eurich’s Insight brings techniques to help you improve your self-awareness, Rachel O’Meara’s Pause explores how and when to gain clarity by giving yourself a break, and Vanessa Van Edwards’ Captivate helps you to read other people and create better interactions in any social situation.

For the career-advice seeker

Kathryn Minshew and Alexandra Cavoulacos’ The New Rules of Work and Seth Price and Barry Feldman’s The Road to Recognition offer tips to help you along your career path, whether you’re just starting out, changing course, or already on the way to success.

For the business guru

Granted, there’s no shortage of decision-making frameworks out there, but The Grid, by Matt Watkinson (author of The Ten Principles Behind Great Customer Experiences) offers a particularly clear, holistic, and effective one. With his guide All in, Bill Green covers 101 lessons he’s learned in his 40 years of entrepreneurship, from paperboy to startup founder to CEO of a publicly traded company.

Doughnut Economics

Economics is broken. It has failed to predict, let alone prevent, financial crises that have shaken the foundations of our societies. Its outdated theories have permitted a world in which extreme poverty persists while the wealth of the super-rich grows year on year. And its blind spots have led to policies that are degrading the living world on a scale that threatens all of our futures. Can it be fixed?

In Doughnut Economics, Oxford academic Kate Raworth identifies seven critical ways in which mainstream economics has led us astray, and sets out a roadmap for bringing humanity into a sweet spot that meets the needs of all within the means of the planet. En route, she deconstructs the character of "rational economic man" and explains what really makes us tick. She reveals how an obsession with equilibrium has left economists helpless when facing the boom and bust of the real-world economy. She highlights the dangers of ignoring the role of energy and nature's resources—and the far-reaching implications for economic growth when we take them into account. And in the process, she creates a new, cutting-edge economic model that is fit for the 21st century—one in which a doughnut-shaped compass points the way to human progress.

Ambitious, radical and rigorously argued, Doughnut Economics promises to reframe and redraw the future of economics for a new generation. 

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Thank you for being late

We all sense it—something big is going on. You feel it in your workplace. You feel it when you talk to your children. You can't miss it when you read the newspapers or watch the news. Our lives are speeding up - and it is dizzying. In Thank You for Being Late, a work unlike any he has attempted before, Thomas L. Friedman exposes the tectonic movements that are reshaping the world today and explains how to get the most out of them. Friedman's thesis is that to understand the twenty-first century, you need to understand that the planet's three largest forces—Moore's law (technology), the market (globalization) and Mother Nature (climate change and biodiversity loss)—are all accelerating at once, transforming the workplace, politics, geopolitics, ethics and community. An extraordinary release of energy is reshaping everything from how we hail a taxi to the fate of nations to our most intimate relationships. It is creating vast new opportunities for individuals and small groups to save the world—or perhaps to destroy it.

Thank You for Being Late is a work of contemporary history that serves as a field manual for how to think about this era of accelerations. It's also an argument for "being late"—for pausing to appreciate this amazing historical epoch we're passing through and reflecting on its possibilities and dangers. He shows us how we can anchor ourselves as individuals in the eye of this storm, and how communities can create a "topsoil of trust" to do the same for their increasingly diverse and digital populations. Written with his trademark vitality, wit, and optimism, and with unequalled access to many of those at the forefront of the changes he is describing all over the world, Thank You for Being Late is Friedman's most ambitious book—and an essential guide to the present and the future.

The New Rules of Work

In this definitive guide to the ever-changing modern workplace, Kathryn Minshew and Alexandra Cavoulacos, the co-founders of popular career website TheMuse.com, show how to find your perfect career. Through quick exercises and structured tips, the authors guide you as you sort through your countless options; communicate who you are and why you are valuable; and stand out from the crowd. The New Rules of Work shows how to choose a perfect career path, land the best job, and wake up feeling excited to go to work every day—whether you are starting out in your career, looking to move ahead, navigating a mid-career shift, or anywhere in between.

The Road to Recognition

You own a brand. Its name is your name.

You need to take ownership of it and earn recognition as an expert in your field. There's no simple shortcut. But now there's a remarkably useful roadmap featuring:

+ An A to Z guide packed with actionable advice for developing your personal brand and accelerating your professional success.

+ 26 practical lessons to help you whether you're an entrepreneur, business leader, aspiring professional, creative, marketer or second careerist.

+ Insights from professionals who are reaping the rewards of recognition.

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The One Device

The secret history of the invention that changed everything—and became the most profitable product in the world. Odds are that as you read this, an iPhone is within reach. But before Steve Jobs introduced us to "the one device," as he called it, a cell phone was merely what you used to make calls on the go. How did the iPhone transform our world and turn Apple into the most valuable company ever?

Veteran technology journalist Brian Merchant reveals the inside story you won't hear from Cupertino-based on his exclusive interviews with the engineers, inventors, and developers who guided every stage of the iPhone's creation. This deep dive takes you from inside One Infinite Loop to 19th century France to WWII America, from the driest place on earth to a Kenyan pit of toxic e-waste, and even deep inside Shenzhen's notorious "suicide factories." It's a firsthand look at how the cutting-edge tech that makes the world work—touch screens, motion trackers, and even AI—made their way into our pockets. The One Device is a roadmap for design and engineering genius, an anthropology of the modern age, and an unprecedented view into one of the most secretive companies in history. This is the untold account, ten years in the making, of the device that changed everything.

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Do you understand who you really are? Or how others really see you? We all know people with a stunning lack of self-awareness—but how often do we consider whether we might have the same problem? Research shows that self-awareness is the meta-skill of the 21st century—the foundation for high performance, smart choices, and lasting relationships. Unfortunately, we are remarkably poor judges of ourselves and how we come across, and it's rare to get candid, objective feedback from colleagues, employees, and even friends and family. Integrating hundreds of studies with her own research and work in the Fortune 500 world, organizational psychologist Dr. Tasha Eurich shatters conventional assumptions about what it takes to truly know ourselves—like why introspection isn't a bullet train to insight, how experience is the enemy of self-knowledge, and just how far others will go to avoid telling us the truth about ourselves. Through stories of people who've made dramatic self-awareness gains, she offers surprising secrets, techniques and strategies to help readers do the same—and therefore improve their work performance, career satisfaction, leadership potential, relationships, and more. At a time when self-awareness matters more than ever, Insight is the essential playbook for surviving and thriving in an unaware world.

Pause: Harnessing the Life-Changing Power of Giving Yourself a Break

Sometimes life throws you for a loop. You're stressed out at your job; you're torn between work and family; your motivation and productivity are taking a nosedive. Your impulse might be to lean in and tough it out, but what you may really need to do is take a step back. Reassess your life with a clear head and dive back in with purpose and poise. In this enlightening book, Rachael O'Meara guides you through the steps of your own pause journey:

+ The signs that you're in need of a meaningful break

+ Planning your optimal pause—whether it's as short as a day or as long as an epic journey

+ Reentering the world with renewed clarity and purpose.

Incorporating the latest findings from psychology and neuroscience and peppered with inspiring stories of successful pauses, this book will show you that the fastest way to happiness is to slow down. Whether you pause by taking a five-minute walk outside, spending a day unplugged from digital devices, or taking a few weeks off to yourself, Pause will give you the tools to find what "lights you up" and the ability to lead the most satisfying and fulfilling life you choose.

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Wish you knew exactly what to say in awkward social situations? Or that you had a formula for charisma? You need to know how people work. As a human behaviour investigator, Vanessa Van Edwards studies the hidden forces that drive our behaviour patterns—and she's cracked the code. In Captivate, she shares a wealth of shortcuts, systems and behaviour hacks to help you take charge of your interactions. You'll learn a game plan for navigating any social situation, unique ways to break away from the same old small talk, how to speed-read faces to predict people's emotions, and much more besides. When you understand the laws of human behaviour you can get along with anyone. With Vanessa's help, you will never interact in the same way again.

The Grid

The Grid reveals the fundamental, inseparable elements behind the success of every business. This book provides the mental scaffolding to help you:

+ Evaluate and refine product and service ideas

+ Reduce risk by considering the broader impact of strategic decisions

+ Identify the root causes behind business challenges

+ Anticipate the impact of changes in the market and turn them to your advantage

+ Collaborate more effectively across teams

Combining practical guidance with real-world examples, The Grid will bring clarity and confidence to your business decision-making.

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All in

You see the market, and you've identified the customers. You want to be wildly successful. You wonder, how certain entrepreneurs have achieved success without a fancy education or unlimited access to capital. Enter Bill Green, a serial entrepreneur. Using his own impressive business achievements (and his few fiascos), Green provides the reader with the practical tools needed to launch their Big Idea or improve their existing business.

In a unique, humorous, and impassioned style, Bill shares 101 key insights he has gleaned over a 40-year business career that began with a single flea market table. He shares the lessons he learned that allowed him to leverage his flea market business table into one of the largest industrial distribution companies in the country and how he subsequently successfully invested in or founded numerous companies across multiple end markets.

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Which business books have changed your life, have set your career on a new course, or have simply been a great read? Help the Bookwitty community decide what to read next by sharing your suggestions in the comments section below. Thanks.


Katie is a reader, editor and note taker who works as a Content Writer at Bookwitty. Originally from Wisconsin, she's at home in Dublin.