The world’s most influential people still make time for a good book.
Earlier this year, Facebook asked 62 such people – from Arianna Huffington to Richard Branson to Newt Gingrich – for the books they’d recommend. More than 230 titles came Facebook’s way.
After some careful tallying, the social-media site narrowed down the most recommended books to a list of just 11 titles.
We can’t guarantee they’ll bring you the same level of success, but they’ll move you in the right direction.
“Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Harari
Harari, a Hebrew University of Jerusalem historian, traces humanity’s roots in what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg calls “a big history narrative of human civilization.”
Zuckerberg selected “Sapiens” as one of the titles for his book club in 2015.
The book examines our early hunter-gatherer societies all the way through our modern conception of community, which often lives inside a screen.
“Freakonomics” by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt
Published in the summer of 2009, “Freakonomics” is the duo’s first dive into bewildering social and economic trends.
In plain language, Dubner and Levitt break down complex topics on parenting research, death rates, and crime. They challenge conventional wisdom with compelling, if eyebrow-raising, examples to back up their claims.
“Freakonomics” helped spawn a genre of publishing that takes advanced concepts and distills them for a lay audience, usually with a sideways perspective.
“Originals” by Adam Grant
Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King, Jr., and many other pioneers all have a number of things in common, argues Grant, a University of Pennsylvania psychologist.
In “Originals,” Grant takes the reader from an idea’s inception, through its (inevitable) backlash, and all the way to implementation and acceptance by a wider audience. He reveals how novel ideas are formed, how to advocate for those ideas, and how adults and kids alike can learn to be original.
“Writing My Wrongs” by Shaka Senghor
Senghor became an activist and mentor at 38 years old. Years before that, he was serving a 19-year sentence for a murder he committed as a teenager in Detroit.
“Writing My Wrongs” details Senghor’s journey from the drug-infested streets of his youth to a life of meditation and positivity. What begins as a violent look at a community at risk of collapse eventually becomes a story of redemption.
The memoir serves as a point of entry into a broader discussion on America’s mass incarceration epidemic.
“Team of Teams” by General Stanley McChrystal
McChrystal’s most well-known accomplishment as the Joint Special Operations Task Force, a position he assumed in 2004 at the outset of the Iraq War, was = rethinking how the US fought Al Qaeda.
His insight, detailed in “Team of Teams,” was that a decentralized terrorist group made up of smaller groups needed a similar opposition. At all levels, the US military needed to be nimble, not big and slow.
McChrystal’s ideas are fodder for any leader or executive looking to stay ahead of the game.
“The Gene” by Siddhartha Mukherjee
Genome science can hardly be considered a topic of mainstream interest, but Mukherjee manages to capture its relevance by being what Bill Gates calls a “quadruple threat.”
Mukherjee is a practicing physician, teacher, researcher, and author. He seeks to answer big questions concerning our personalities and what makes us, us.
“The Gene” chronicles the history of how scientists came to be enamored with human genes and what the latest research tells us about our species’ genetic future.
“Hillbilly Elegy” by JD Vance
Vance, now a successful venture capitalist, grew up poor in the hills of the Appalachia.
“Hillbilly Elegy” is his account of life during that time – dark moments, times of joy, and Vance’s perspective on the culture that pervades life in America’s forgotten, towns.
The book has become a favorite since its release shortly after the election of Donald Trump as president, as it reflects on many of the sentiments rural voters had leading up to casting their vote.
“Endurance” by Alfred Lansing
Explorer Ernest Shackleton made a name for himself in the early 20th century by surviving a treacherous journey to Antarctica.
In “Endurance,” Alfred Lansing charts Shackleton’s August 1914 mission, including the many near-death experiences the explorer and his 27-man crew faced along the way.
The voyage spanned 850 miles through the South Atlantic’s roughest waters, almost killing everyone involved. The crew’s only hope was a small lifeboat and the trust they would end up at their intended target: a tiny island in a vast sea of nothingness.
“The Industries of the Future” by Alec Ross
As the former Senior Advisor for Innovation to Hillary Clinton (when she was Secretary of State), Alec Ross has some ideas about what 2026 will look like.
In “The Industries of the Future,” Ross delves deep into that 10-year vision. Robotic automation, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and renewable energy are just some of the fields that will come to define the 2020s, he writes.
The book also proposes some ideas for dealing with that future and its consequences.
“Delivering Happiness” by Tony Hsieh
Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, has gained a reputation for being forward-thinking with his approach to hiring employees and running his online shoe store.
In “Delivering Happiness,” he meditates on some of the more successful policies he’s put into place, and discusses the psychological research that underpins much of what he does. New employees, for instance, are offered $2,000 to quit on the spot – a clever technique to weed out people who don’t want to be there.
Zappos may sell shoes, but Hsieh emphasizes the principles apply no matter what you put up for sale.
“Conscious Business” by Fred Kofman
LinkedIn vice president and self-described philosopher Fred Kofman outlines the many ways companies can find success in both employee morale, community-building, and, of course, business.
Kofman points to nearly a dozen factors that make companies soar or tank. Many of them have to do with treating people as dignified human beings who want to communicate openly and make bosses proud.
“Conscious Business” argues for a more mindful, collaborative approach to conquering the market.