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Best Business Books of the Year

Get the inside track with these best sellers from 2014

Did you resolve last month to start a successful small business in 2015? Business school may have prepared you well, and the textbooks you used were likely very informative. However, nothing can beat real-world experience, and you can learn about just that with these five business books that led 2014.

1.  Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

First released in 2011, this book by the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics winner Kahneman first graced the New York Times “Best Seller” list that year. Three years later, the book made the business list each month with the highest average ranking of all similarly themed books at 4.75. In the reference, Kahneman discusses how we make choices in business and personal life, summarizing his research conducted over decades to conclude that people place too much confidence in human judgment.

2.Outliersby Malcolm Gladwell

The Canadian journalist and author of five books, all of which appeared on the New York Times "Best Seller" list, discusses why some people succeed over others. He examines the habits of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, musical act The Beatles and many other customarily successful people. Gladwell also looks into how cultural differences play a large part in perceived intelligence and rational decision-making. The book remained on the New York Times "Best Seller" list for business all 12 weeks in 2014, with an average ranking just below Thinking, Fast and Slow at 5.25.

3. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Pulitzer Prize–winning business reporter Duhigg looks into why habits exist and how they can be changed. He shows that by harnessing the science of habits, you can transform your business, community and life.            

The Power of Habit is chock-full of fascinating anecdotes . . . how an early twentieth century adman turned Pepsodent into the first bestselling toothpaste by creating the habit of brushing daily, how a team of marketing mavens at Procter & Gamble rescued Febreze from the scrapheap of failed products by recognizing that a fresh smell was a fine reward for a cleaning task, how Michael Phelps’ coach instilled habits that made him an Olympic champion many times over, and how Tony Dungy turned the Indianapolis Colts into a Super Bowl–winning team,” reviewed the Los Angeles Times.

Duhigg’s book was on the New York Times’ business list for 11 of the 12 months in 2014, with an average ranking of 6.18.

4. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg with Nell Scovell

Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook is one of Fortune magazine’s “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” and Times' “100 Most Influential People in the World,” so she knows a thing or two about success in business. Using both humor and wisdom, Sandberg scrutinizes why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled and offers fascinating, commonsense solutions that can empower women to reach their full potential.

“Honest and brave,” said Oprah Winfrey about Lean In, which spent 10 months of 2014 on the business best seller list (5.1 average ranking). “(It’s) the new manifesto for women in the workplace.”

5. #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso

Founder, CEO and creative director of Nasty Gal, a $100 million plus online fashion retailer, Amoruso admits in her book that she’s never been the typical leader or entrepreneur, so she wrote her book for similar outsiders (or insiders) seeking unique paths to success. Just like Lean In, this brash business memoir, which spent six months (average ranking of 6.6) on the New York Times’ business list, is a beneficial read for both men and women looking to flourish in the business world.

Of course, no book is going to give you a foolproof way to grow a thriving business, be it a textbook, memoir or anything else. However, the above five references will offer you various insights into the minds of consumers and other successful entrepreneurs, and maybe even a little much-needed inspiration.


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