Add These 11 Books to Your 2016 Reading List

Set a goal this year to grow in your career? Learn something new? Look no further than these great reads. 

1. What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, Randall Monroe

4 out of 5 stars | Read the Summary on Goodreads

This book builds on innovative, what if scenarios that encourage you to think differently. Monroe, the creator of XKCD, hilariously details exact scientific answers to questions from the likelihood of a fire tornado to creating a jetpack powered by machine guns. His extrapolations of crazy scenarios with science (SCIENCE!) kept me laughing, and I learned more than I ever wanted to know about diabolical scientific situations.

But I’ve never seen the Icarus story as a lesson about the limitations of humans. I see it as a lesson about the limitations of wax as an adhesive.

4 out of 5 stars | Read the Summary on Goodreads

If you've set goals to save more, build wealth, or be healthier this year, this is the book to read. Thaler and Sunstein explain the psychology behind human decision making and how it affects our ability to make the "right" choices. On top of that, they're great writers and take potentially dry topics (like 401K plans) and make them accessible and entertaining.

The first misconception is that it is possible to avoid influencing people’s choices.
Made to Stick

5 out of 5 stars | Read the Summary on Goodreads

I reviewed this book a while back and it's going to stay on my bookshelf for a while. The Health Brothers discuss six qualities that turn an idea from ok to awesome. They mix this with entertaining urban legends, success stories, personal anecdotes, and specific best practices that outline exactly what's going to work and what won't. 

When [people] share their lessons...they’re hearing a song, filled with passion and emotion, inside their heads. But they forget that the audience can’t hear the same tune they hear.

4. Rising Strong, Brene Brown

4 out of 5 stars | Read the Summary on Goodreads

I met Brene Brown while at Hubspot's #INBOUND15 and her words inspired and revitalized me. Her book gave me a sense of control over how to live my life and what values I choose to practice. It's a great read to help you reflect on your integrity, failures, and inner strength that I would recommend to anyone.

Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply processing them.

5 out of 5 stars | Read the Summary on Goodreads

I loved this book for what it can teach about perseverance, dedication, and beating the odds. But I also loved Davidson's fiery personality and her stubbornness: the more the world threw at her, the more determined she was to complete the impossible. With vivid descriptions of the landscape and her journey, she takes the reader along for the ride. I originally read this ahead of the 2013 movie release.

The two important things that I did learn were that you are as powerful and strong as you allow yourself to be, and that the most difficult part of any endeavor is taking the first step, making the first decision.

4 out of 5 stars | Read the Summary on Goodreads

Lepore is both a master storyteller and a fantastic historian. Digging through a tangled web of secrets, suffragettes, and con artists, she unearths the origins of Wonder Woman, the world's first badass female superhero. Besides indulging my geekiness, the work itself is a fascinating study on women, work, and what it means to be feminist in this day and age, not just in the early part of the 20th century.

And that’s the point; not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don’t want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women are. Women’s strong qualities have become despised because of their weak ones.

7. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

4 out of 5 stars | Read the Summary on Goodreads

Though a work of fiction, this book inspired me more than any business book I've read this year. It's a true hero's journey, but one that shows how each action and decision you make helps you build your own unique path. Its achingly beautiful language will make you linger over each page, and the philosophy on life, love, and destiny will definitely stay with me as I think through my next career moves.

When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.
Creativity Inc

5 out of 5 stars | Read the Summary on Goodreads

I reviewed Creativity Inc, as it's one of my favorites I've read recently. Not just because I'm a Disney fanatic, but because more than any other book, this one has influenced how I ask questions and seek out innovation at work. What Catmull does here is not just instill a sense of behind-the-scene drama from the early days of Pixar, but imparts wisdom on various aspects of creativity. The point he makes is that culture matters, and executive actions actively help or hinder the creative process.

Challenges never cease, failure can’t be avoided and ‘vision’ is often an illusion. But [creative people must] feel safe – always – to speak their minds.

9. 100 Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

4 out of 5 stars | Read the Summary on Goodreads

This one's a classic, but I had never read it, somehow missing it in high school and college. I loved how vivid Marquez's world became, how the history of the town and the families that lived there connected, doubled back, twisted around, and connected again. He paints a portrait of a life lived and loved--several lives, in fact--and reveals so many human truths, that it really is a must-read.

Intrigued by that enigma, he dug so deeply into her sentiments that in search of interest he found love, because by trying to make her love him he ended up falling in love with her.

5 out of 5 stars | Read the Summary on Goodreads

If you're looking a your feel-good WWII story, look no further than the story of Washington's eight-man crew team for the 1936 Olympics. It's emotional, spirited, and full of inspiring moments. Their individual journeys and obstacles leave you in the moment, and knowing the historical outcome makes this book no less exciting or worth reading. A great pre-Rio read.

It’s not a question of whether you will hurt, or of how much you will hurt; it’s a question of what you will do, and how well you will do it, while pain has her wanton way with you.

4 out of 5 stars | Read the Summary on Goodreads

If Isaacson's name looks familiar, it's because he wrote THE Steve Jobs biography. His extensive research, dedication to detail, and showcase of the individuals and groups that built the world we know today makes this a fascinating read. I felt like I gained an understanding of macrolevel trends without losing the color of the individual leaders, lab workers, and tinkering garage dwellers that created the society in which I grew up.

innovation resides where art and science connect is not new. Leonardo da Vinci was the exemplar of the creativity that flourishes when the humanities and sciences interact. When Einstein was stymied while working out General Relativity, he would pull out his violin and play Mozart until he could reconnect to what he called the harmony of the spheres.

Get inspired this year to learn more, do more, and be more with these picks. Who knows what their lessons will bring for you and what connections you can build?