Year in review: Business books of 2013

I love to read, although I don’t get to enjoy this hobby as much as I’d like. So far in 2013, I’ve read 30 books, including 10 that were released in 2013. Below, I summarize the subset in the business or professional development genres. Books are listed alphabetically by author. The rating scale runs from one star (don’t bother) to five stars (a must-read).

1. Contagious: Why Things Catch On, Jonah Berger, Simon & Schuster.  *****

In this quick and engaging read, author Jonah Berger opines on the subject of viral communications in a way that spans multiple industries, thereby making the material appreciable to an audience beyond the usual business community.  This approach, along with clear writing, made this my favorite business book of the year.

2. David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell, Little, Brown and Company. ***

My three-star assessment of this book has nothing to do with the writing itself, which is superb; rather, I did not find the examples compelling enough to make the case. Yet, the theories presented by Malcom Gladwell are interesting and thought-provoking, as always, and are definitely worth the read for renewed perspective.

3. What You’re Really Meant to Do, Robert Steven Kaplan, Harvard Business School Publishing.  **

If you’re looking for a quick read on how to maximize your potential at work, this book may be for you. The author provides an introspective road map for recognizing, understanding, and using your traits and values to reach your definition of success. However, there is very little discussion on how to handle the unavoidable bumps in the road, and the book suffers for its lack of depth in this area.

4. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, Sheryl Sandberg, Knopf.  ***

Although this was a decent book, it didn’t resonate with me. Much of the advice is not new — I have “leaned in” for years and have had a successful career because of it. And, the adage “it’s not what you know but who you know” remains an underlying theme of the book. Even so, it’s a well-researched analysis of the role of gender in the workplace.

5. The First 90 Days (Updated and Expanded): Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels, Michael D. Watkins, Harvard Business Review Press.  ****

This 2013 re-release is a decent read, particularly the early sections on onboarding. As a freelancer, I am often in the onboarding stage, so this book has been helpful in managing those expectations. An added bonus, however, was the theme of continual onboarding; that is, adapting to changes in the workplace.. For that reason, this is a book I will consult often. (For those so inclined, a mobile app is available for additional charge; I have not downloaded it.)

6. Financial Blogging; How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients, Susan B. Weiner, CFA, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.  *****

This was the book that was most helpful to me as a research writer-turned blogger. Soon after following Ms. Weiner’s advice, traffic to my blog increased considerably, and my level of apprehension decreased.  Today’s entry, in fact, was developed with the aid of the worksheets and checklists provided in the book.

What were some of your favorite business books of 2013? And, what is on your wish list for 2014?