You should read these 30 books – Book Suggestions from Randy Mayeux of the First Friday Book Synopsis (ok – 30, + a few)

I am a book reader. I know some people who read more books than I do. And others who read fewer books than I do. But I do read books.

And for 20 years, I have presented synopses of business books at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas. One book a month – or two, in recent months – every month, since Spring, 1998.

And for well over a decade, I have presented synopses of books monthly at the Urban Engagement Book Club, sponsored by CitySquare, in Dallas. These are books dealing with issues of social justice.

Here are a few observations.

It is better to read a book than not read a book. Practically any book.
It is better to read a good book than a just-ok book.
It is better to read a good book that challenges you and stretches you than a book that does not challenge you or stretch you.

And, for business folks, it is better to read a book that will move you forward in your work.

So, as I do periodically, I’ve been thinking: what books would I recommend that you should move to the top of your “I should read this book” list?

I’ve come up with 30 books. (Ok – 30+). I know this seems like a long list of books. But, start, and you shall someday finish!

And, give it a few months, and I would edit this list; removing some, adding others.

I’ve come up with Five Categories; Five Books in each category. And, I’ve added five more “just because” they are really good books and are worth reading. (and, maybe, just a few more)…

You and I could certainly go at it over this list. You might choose different categories. You might choose different books. But, I believe that each of these selections would enrich your understanding and your life. These are books worth reading! And, if you implement what you learn from them, they might even help you move forward in your work and your life.

So, here are Randy Mayeux’s current book recommendations…

Extreme OwnershipBooks on Leadership:

Encouraging the Heart: A Leader’s Guide to Rewarding and Recognizing Others by James Kouzes and Barry Posner. (Simon and Schuster, 1999)

Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. St. Martin’s Press (2015)

Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott. St. Martin’s Press (March 14, 2017)

New Leadership Literacies: Thriving in a Future of Extreme Disruption and Distributed Everything by Bob Johansen. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. (2017)

Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success by Phil Jackson and Hugh Delehanty. Penguin Press HC (2013)

{Bonus suggestion: Wooden on Leadership by John Wooden. McGraw-Hill (April 5, 2005)}


deep-work-cal-newportBooks on Personal Productivity:

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. Little, Brown and Company (November 18, 2008).

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity by David Allen. (Viking Press; 2001)

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport. Grand Central Publishing (2016)

Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Timothy Ferris. (Arnold Schwarzenegger, (Foreword). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2016)

When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel Pink. Riverhead Books (January 9, 2018)


Books on “Teaming”:

Twyla Tharp's new book, The Collaborative Habit

Twyla Tharp’s new book, The Collaborative Habit

The Collaborative Habit: Life Lessons for Working Together by Twyla Tharp. Simon & Schuster (November 24, 2009)

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni. Jossey-Bass (April 11, 2002)

Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by General Stanley McChrystal, Tantum Collins, David Silverman, Chris Fussell. Portfolio (2015)

Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. Random House (March 8, 2016)

Wiser: Getting Beyond Groupthink to Make Groups Smarter by Cass R. Sunstein and Reid Hastie. Harvard Business Review Press (2014)


Books on our accelerating era of technological change (with a dash of innovation, creativity, and inventiveness):

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp. Simon & Schuster (2003)Rise of the Robots

(XLR8) Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World by John P. Kotter. Harvard Business Review Press (2014).

Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future by Martin Ford. Basic Books, 2015.

The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly. Viking. 2016.

The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee. W. W. Norton & Company; (2014).

(and…this was the toughest category to narrow down to five. Consider also: Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations by Thomas L. Friedman; Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant; The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future by Steve Case; The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune, and Survival in the Age of Networks by Joshua Cooper Ramo; Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull; Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson… This category is tough!)


Books on Social Justice (Note: I think that “diversity” issues need to be better understood. And I think that business people have to think about people often overlooked in society. Call this the moral conscience section of my recommendations. Seriously, we need to know more in this arena…):

Toxic InequalityThe Working Poor: Invisible in America by David Shipler. Knopf (February 3, 2004)

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich. Picador; Anniversary edition (August 2, 2011) (first published, 2001).

Toxic Inequality: How America’s Wealth Gap Destroys Mobility, Deepens the Racial Divide, and Threatens Our Future by Thomas M. Shapiro. Basic Books (March 14, 2017)

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi. Nation Books (April 12, 2016)

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond. Crown (March 1, 2016)

AND — Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg. (Knopf, 2013).

{Bonus suggestion: The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson. Random House (September 7, 2010)}


And, bonus section – five books just because they are worth reading!

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. (first published in English, 1959).Sapiens

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. Harper (February 10, 2015)

Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. Knopf (2016).

The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload Daniel J. Levitin. Dutton Adult (2014).

Never Eat Alone And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time (The Ultimate Networker Reveals How to Build a Lifelong Community of Colleagues, Contacts, Friends, and Mentors) by Keith Ferrazzi. Currency • Doubleday (2005)


{Note: I have presented synopses of all of these books. My social justice book synopses are not available for purchase. But for the business books, my synopses, with the audio recording of my presentations plus my multi-page, comprehensive handouts, are available at the buy synopses tab at the top of this web page.}


One thought on “You should read these 30 books – Book Suggestions from Randy Mayeux of the First Friday Book Synopsis (ok – 30, + a few)

  1. MarySue Foster

    Randy — what a great book list! And to keep it close to 30! Thanks for all you do to help us be a reading nation.


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