There’s no shortage of books on virtually every topic related to business, but every year a host of new titles add something useful to a small or medium-sized business owner’s arsenal. Even if a book isn’t a life-changer, staying on top of business literature pays off in a number of ways. Is a book worth it if it:

 

  • Helps you land a new client?

  • Prevents a headache-inducing situation or mistake at the cost of $15 and a little time?

  • Gives you suggestions or solutions you can pass on to others during networking events?

  • Provides the context you need to understand articles and discussions about an emerging topic?

 

It’s a resounding “Yes!” to all of those. Summer is a great time to catch up on reading, and a few books -- some older and some new -- can help you close out 2017 strongly and position you for more opportunities in 2018.

 

“Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely. The subtitle of Ariely’s book is “The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions,” and Ariely makes the case that although we make seemingly-irrational decisions in business and everyday life, we can actually make sense of why we do what we do. Ariely is a professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University, and his work on honesty -- or lying, depending on how you process it -- is wildly informative and entertaining. “Predictably Irrational” is a must-read and it’s anything but boring, but be warned: you’re likely to dive head-first down the rabbit hole of Ariely’s full body of work after reading.

 

“How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading” by Mortimer Adler. This 1940 classic (with a 1972 re-write) isn’t a business book… but it’s a business book. Adler was a philosopher and teacher who worked at Columbia, the University of Chicago, and Encyclopedia Britannica, and he penned the finest work to date on what it actually means to read something. Adler writes primarily in the context of great works of literature, but his wisdom on acquiring and analyzing information applies even more in an era in which we’re inundated with written communication. From reading e-mails and articles to thinking about how your business expresses itself in text, “How to Read a Book” is a hidden gem. If you’re not convinced you could benefit from Adler, just take a look at his excellent interview with William F. Buckley on “The Idea of the Great Ideas.”

 

“Hustle” by Neil Patel, Patrick Vlaskovits, and Jonas Koffler. “Hustle” is about the tiny adjustments you can make in your life to get what you want -- which is why its subtitle is “The Power to Charge Your Life with Money, Meaning, and Momentum.” But it’s not about ‘that one weird trick’ that’ll vault you to success; Patel, Vlaskovits, and Koffler examine how thinking differently about your activities and the people around them can really pay off. If you don’t come away from “Hustle” with a dozen new ideas for how you can improve something at work -- managing employees, streamlining a task, selling more efficiently, or building better relationships -- you should check your pulse.

 

“Building the Internet of Things: Implement New Business Models, Disrupt Competitors, Transform Your Industry” by Maciej Kranz. What do you think about when you read an article that references IoT? What is the Internet of Things… and does it matter to you? The people around you? Your business? Your competitors? Even if you’re in a niche that doesn’t seem directly relevant to IoT, it probably is -- and Kranz explains the how and why of it all in a way that will allow you to start thinking about how IoT can be part of your next move. And even if you decide to wait, you’ll definitely be the most interesting person to talk to at your next networking event.