A summer reading list

Finding inspiration and seeds for good ideas is something we can all make a daily habit, 365 days per year. Now that summer is here, it’s also a great time to enjoy a few good books for inspiration, enjoyment and to challenge your mind. Here comes a few summer reading tips on creativity and modern business life from TED’s blog:

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. “Kahneman is brilliant. His latest book offers a fascinating look at how our brains work, and how they push us to act in ways that aren’t always in our best interest.”

How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough. “By offering evidence that traits like empathy, determination and self-control tend to be better predictors of success than IQ, Tough will make you think differently about raising kids in a highly competitive world.”

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull. “A fantastic read, and hugely applicable to what we do at Nest. It offers a great perspective on how an experienced leader has guided a team of creative, dedicated people to develop amazing things.”

The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz. “Starting a company is never easy — even when you’ve done it before. Ben’s advice is useful, honest, profane and essential for understanding why some companies fail and others succeed.”

The Art of War by Sun Tzu. “It’s hard to believe that a 2,000-year-old book could still be relevant for businesses today, but Sun Tzu’s masterpiece is as applicable to the world we live in as ever.”

Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street by John Brooks. “Warren Buffett recommended this book to me in 1991, and it’s still the best business book I’ve ever read. Brooks offers sharp insights into the timeless fundamentals of business — like the challenge of building a large organization, hiring people with the right skills and listening to customers’ feedback.”

The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns Goodwin. “Doris Kearns Goodwin studies the lives of these presidents to answer a question that fascinates me: How does social change happen? Can it be driven by an inspirational leader, or do other factors have to lay the groundwork? In Roosevelt’s case, it was the latter; his famous soft speaking and big stick weren’t effective in driving reform until journalists rallied public support.”

On Immunity: An Inoculation by Eula Biss. “Eloquent essayist Eula Biss uses the tools of literary analysis, philosophy and science to examine the speedy, inaccurate rumors about childhood vaccines that have proliferated among well-meaning American parents. Biss took up this topic not for academic reasons, but because of her new role as a mom.”

Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization by Vaclav Smil. “In this book, Smil examines the materials we use to meet the demands of modern life — like cement, iron, aluminum, plastic and paper. The book is full of staggering statistics: for example, China used more cement in just three years than the US used in the entire twentieth century. Smil is an original thinker who never gives simple answers to complex questions.”

How Asia Works: Success and Failure in the World’s Most Dynamic Region by Joe Studwell. “Business journalist Joe Studwell gives compelling answers to two key questions in development economics: How did countries like Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and China achieve sustained high growth? And why have so few other countries managed to do so?”

How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff and Irving Geis. “First published in 1954, this book doesn’t feel dated, aside from a few anachronistic examples. (It’s been a long time since bread cost five cents a loaf.) In fact, it’s more relevant than ever. One chapter shows you how visuals can be used to exaggerate trends and give distorted comparisons. A timely reminder, given how often infographics show up in your Facebook and Twitter feeds these days.”

You can find the full list of recommended summer readings on TED’s blog. The recommendations above where made by Tony Fadell (creativity) and Bill Gates (business and modern life) respectively.

We wish you a wonderful summer and hope to see you back here again in mid August.