We read a stack of the season’s best business books and scoured the “coming soon” lists to bring you the cream of the crop. Here, the books you should be reading now, planning to read in the spring, or at least reading the cliff notes so you’ll be cocktail party-ready.
Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
No one lives a life immune from disappointment, grief, failure, and pain. The question isn’t how to avoid them. It’s: What happens next? Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg uses her own grief as a springboard for a research-backed study of human resilience. Writing with Wharton professor Adam Grant in the aftermath of her husband’s sudden death, Sandberg offers herself as a gut-wrenching case study to explore theown for hope (and growth) after loss. Resilience, they argue, isn’t a state of mind but a skill to be developed—and now or later, it’s imperative that we do. Adversity comes to us all. With nuance and compassion, Sandberg and Grant offer a gentle how-to manual for making the most of it.
(Knopf, April 24, 2017)
Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker
Journalist, wine rube, and obsessive personality Bianca Bosker embarks on a madcap eighteen-month journey into the booze-soaked belly of the wine industry to uncover the answer to the casual drinker’s perennial question: what is the deal with wine? By embedding herself with some of the finest palates in the world, Bosker sets to work cultivating her own tastebuds, talking (and drinking) with hipster sommeliers, smell-obsessed scientists, wine economists, snobs and anti-snobs from Napa to New York in preparation for the ultimate test: the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Certified Sommelier Exam. A meticulous researcher, Bosker’s gleeful enthusiasm for her subject is contagious; call it a skeptical love letter to a “bullshit-prone” field.
Plus, buyers beware: A wine’s price matters for quality up to $60, one expert tells Bosker. After that, you’re mostly paying for branding.
(Penguin Books, March 28)
How did a smart, sweet kid from Texas—handsome, kind, and sure, a die-hard libertarian—go from Penn State PhD student to kingpin of a billion dollar cyber drug-dealing operation? That’s Vanity Fair correspondent and former New York Times columnist Nick Bilton’s question, as he pieces together the implausible saga of Ross Ulbricht, a.k.a. Dread Pirate Roberts, the then-26-year-old founder of the Silk Road, and the team of government agents who eventually brought him down. At its peak, the site was the ultimate realization of Ulbricht’s libertarian ideals: an anonymous, unregulated dark web marketplace where anyone could buy anything. But as Silk Road exploded, so did the immediate danger, and Ulbricht went to increasing extremes to protect his empire—and himself.
The result is as good a primer as any on seamier side of the internet. Silk Road, Bilton argues, is emblematic of a new era, where anonymous figures from the shadows of the internet to go toe-to-toe with the government. It’s a little frustrating that Bilton declines to dig into the broader implications of the digital underground, though the question swirls in the background. Like Ulbricht, he notes, some of the people running the current generation anonymous markets believe they’re contributing to a better world. “Maybe it’s just a justification,” Bilton offers. “Or maybe it’s not.”
(Penguin/Portfolio, May 2)
Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street by Sheelah Kolhatkar
Out in February, this book should still be at the top of your list as the weather warms up. It follows the legendary Steven Cohen, who launched SAC Capital in 1992 and shook Wall Street. In 2013, SAC Capital was indicted for insider trading; according to prosecutors, the company “trafficked in inside information on a scale without any known precedent in the history of hedge funds.” Masterfully deconstructing a massive web of Wall Street operating, New Yorker staff writer Sheelah Kolhatkar retraces the seven-year government investigation that took down the firm—though not the man—in a true-life thriller with Shakespearian stakes. She draws her major players with cinematic precision, from FBI Special Agent B.J. Kang, who spearheaded the investigation, to sinister SAC portfolio manager Mathew Martoma and the aging professor who becomes his sympathetic source. Though Kolhatkar offers no grand revelation here—Cohen himself declined to participate — her chilling account of a blighted industry is as mesmerizing as a human story as it is as a financial one.
For a post-script, see Fortune’s recent profile of Cohen here.
(Random House, Feb. 7)
Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success by Ivanka Trump
Ivanka Trump started Women Who Work before the election, but its safe to say it will find a broader audience now. How exactly the book will fit in with Trump’s evolving brand, though, remains to be seen. Details about the content of the book have been hard to come by (the press isn’t getting early galleys), the release was delayed from March to May, and the Trump camp says the proceeds will go to charity, but the recipients have not yet been identified. What we do know, we can read in the dust jacket, on which the first daughter writes, “When it comes to women and work, there isn’t one right answer.” The book promises to equip millennial women with “the best skills I’ve learned from some of the amazing people I’ve met.” With chapters on topics like “identifying opportunities,” “managing work and family,” and “starting companies”—as well as “helping change the system to make it better for women.”
(Portfolio, May 2)
Unshakable: Your Financial Freedom Playbook by Tony Robbins
In this slim distillation of his nearly 700-page investing opus, Money: Master the Game, motivational speaker and wealth-management populist Robbins—a coach to the core—offers a play-by-play of his investment strategy, gleaned from the wisdom of financial giants. Illustrated with a host of ultra-accessible examples, Robbins’s mass prescription for unshakable financial freedom is hardly revelatory (invest in index funds, don’t panic as the market fluctuates, avoid fortune-eating fees) and his advice has not been without controversy, but his no-nonsense approach lays out a reassuring road map for new and anxious investors alike.
(Simon & Schuster, Feb. 28)
Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
Big data reveals previously untapped insights about the human condition—or so says economist and data scientist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz in his quippy new book, which argues for its revolutionary possibilities. Positioning himself in opposition to “Big Data skeptics,” Stephens-Davidowitz makes the case that the way to our hearts is through our Google searches. In example after highly quotable example, he illustrates the observational power of massive data sets. Study late-night PornHub searches and discover a wealth of unexpected (and, uh, sometimes expected) insights into adult sexuality; study racist Google searches and come to the unsettling conclusion that a lot of what we think we know about racism in America is wrong. (Think racism is endemic to the South? Think again.) But while the book is brimming with intriguing anecdotes and counterintuitive facts, Stephens-Davidowitz does his level best to help usher in a new age of human understanding, one digital data point at a time.
(Dey Street, May 2)
Americans move less than they used to. This is true when measured in moving vans: Interstate migration is about 50% lower today than in the 1960s. It’s also true in economic terms, says Tyler Cowen in his compelling new book, The Complacent Class. There are fewer startups now as a percent of business activity, less corporate “creative destruction,” and less development in cities. Cowen’s takeaway: The stasis can’t hold. Postponing the big changes that would combat rising inequality and segregation is just a recipe for crisis down the line.
(St. Martin’s Press, Feb. 28)
Why Wall Street Matters by William Cohan
This is the book everyone in finance is going to buy as a gift for their friends—especially their friends who rag on them for working in finance. Seasoned journalist (and Fortune contributor) William Cohan writes a spirited and convincing defense—not exactly of Wall Street, but of the critical role it plays in the economy. Part history and part industry cheat sheet, Cohan’s book explains why reform is still needed but breaking up the Wall Street titans is a bad idea. A quick read at just 147 pages, it’s a good primer for anyone who wonders just what the big banks are good for, anyway.
(Random House, Feb. 28)
Elements of this article were adapted from the print edition of Fortune.
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