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Our summer leadership series has explored why leaders need a vacation, too, and shared five simple steps for leaders who find it hard to shut their laptops and take some time away.


In this post, we continue our seasonal theme with a focus on summer reading. There’s a reason “beach reads” is a genre: vacation and great books go hand-in-hand.

Reading is leisure, but it’s also learning. And it has many well-documented benefits, including reducing stress and increasing your emotional intelligence, or EQ, a leadership superpower. It also expands your worldview, especially if you don’t limit yourself to business titles and dip into novels, memoirs, self-help and even poetry.


Despite reading’s positive effects, the Pew Research Centre found in 2021 that almost a quarter of American adults hadn’t read a book in the previous year. If that includes you, it’s time to pick up a book. And if you are an avid reader, here’s a roundup of eight of the best curated reading lists and most recommended titles for leaders. We’ve also published a couple of titles that our team can’t put down - click here.

  1. NPR’s Books We Love website lets you mix and match filters, including genre and subject, to deliver a customized list from its archive of more than 3,00 recommendations from NPR staff and trusted critics.

  2. Best Books to Help You Improve Your Management Skills: Firmspace has a nice roundup of reads for “new managers, old hands, and anyone looking to improve their management skills.”

  3. Adam Grant’s Picks: “A good book helps you think differently. A great book inspires you to act differently,” the famed organizational psychologist and author writes on a Substack post where he shares his favourite new releases. Grant’s book picks cover finding motivation in unexpected places, designing more worthwhile jobs, and building a better future.

  4. Fast Company’s Summer Reading List For the Modern Leader: Succession! Shipwrecks! Romantic comedy! The Modern CEO newsletter’s Stephanie Mehta shares her diverse roundup with books offering leadership lessons and insights on the human condition.

  5. Forbes CFO Summer Reading List: The 2023 instalment of this annual roundup cites a great Harry Truman quote: “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” We couldn’t agree more! Check out this compilation of suggestions from members of the CFO Leadership Council.

  6. Harvard Business School Faculty Summer Reader 2023: Great minds do not always think alike, as this eclectic compilation that explores spirituality, design, suspense, and more demonstrates.

  7. McKinsey & Co.’s Summer Reading: This year, the annual reading guide reflects “not only the imperative to address uncertainties as they become more profound but also the drive to learn from history—and to build a more sustainable, inclusive, and growing future for all.” Leaders from around the world share their best books.

  8. NYT’s Summer Books 2023: “47 books, 47 adventures'' is how the Times headlines its 2023 summer reading list, which has “something to read for every creature you know.” Intriguing!


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