If you’re like most of us this time of year, you have a mile-long to-do list that includes meetings, company holiday events, end-of-the year strategy planning and family get-togethers. You may feel you have no time for reading and that, even if you do carve out some time, that you should read business-oriented material.
However, there are good reasons why you should take some time to read books during his busy time of year, and in fact, all year long. Scientists have found that reading a novel can improve your brain function. A recent conducted by Emory University researchers and published in the journal Brain Connectivity discovered that our brain function increases when we become engaged in a novel. Basically when we put ourselves in a character’s place in a piece of fiction, we flex our imaginations and form new brain connections.
Although there is nothing wrong with reading the latest book on business theory or on market trends, you can do yourself a favor by picking up a non-financial books or a novel. You may find that you learn just as much or more that will help you in your work. Here is a list of our favorite non-financial books that teach valuable business lessons.
Non-financial books – Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis
Yes, this is a book about baseball, and a good one at that, but it is even a better book about business. Michael Lewis gives us the real-life story of how Billy Beane transformed the low-budget Oakland Athletics into a winning, successful ball club. By paying attention to the numbers – numbers others had not fully considered — Beane pulls together an unlikely group of players that end up challenging the record for consecutive American League wins. This classic underdog/Cinderella story is fun and inspiring to read, and it will change your perspective on how to deal with a seemingly impossible situation.
Non-financial books – Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Now for something completely different… Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand’s magnum opus, is part mystery, part world-view treatise, part dystopian novel. She faces us with the enduring question: is the pursuit of profit a noble enterprise or is it the root of all evil? Join Dagny Taggart and John Galt as they confront the “role of man’s mind in existence,” the theme of the book as Rand herself put it. Still as radical today as it was when it was published in 1957, this book will leave you a bit jarred, but your mind will be the better for the journey.
Non-financial books – Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
He leads most people’s list as the best of the American Presidents, and yet his own Cabinet did not respect him. One of his Cabinet members even referred to him as a “long armed ape.” In this non-fiction book that reads like fiction, Doris Kearns Goodwin tells us about the political genius of our 16th president — how he not only forged an unlikely political career out of obscurity but how he prevailed over some heavy-weight rivals — William H. Seward, Edward Bates and Salmon P. Chase — to win the presidency. Learn how Lincoln’s character and his ability to understand the motives and desires of others led him to mold his Cabinet, his generals and his nation to survive a civil war and to preserve the Union.
Non-financial books – Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner
A brilliant and compelling writer, Wallace Stegner won the Pulitzer Prize for this 1992 novel about a retired historian who researches the lives of his pioneer grandparents. The book gives rich details about the mining industry and about the forging of the American West. Touching on water rights and our role as caretakers on the environment, the book continues to have important and timely lessons for us today.
Non-financial books – The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
The Prince, written by Niccolò Machiavelli, a 16th-century Italian diplomat and political theorist, is a short, but powerful treatise that puts forth the idea that the ends justifies the means. Written in 1513, but not widely published until 1532, five years after the author’s death, the book confronts the reader with moral dilemmas that are still compelling today. For example, he asserts that anyone who ignores reality in an attempt to live up to a pre-conceived ideal will destroy himself. Maybe you read it in high school, but it is time to re-read The Prince.