The best books I wish my business students would read

Why am I passionate about this?

All the books on this list deal with personal meaning and human relationships. These two things are the sources of lasting joy for all of us. These two things provide the deep fabric of sustainability—ecological, social, or economic. I’m pretty good at being mission driven, but need a lot of work on creating and nurturing strong relationships. I reread many of these books on a regular basis and they help keep me focused on what really matters and what I most need and want to sustain. These books have also helped the over 2,000 students I’ve taught over 30+ years. 

I wrote...

Clean: Lessons from Ecolab's Century of Positive Impact

By Paul Godfrey, Emilio R. Tenuta,

Book cover of Clean: Lessons from Ecolab's Century of Positive Impact

What is my book about?

Clean is the perfect guide for CEOs, business leaders, chief sustainability officers, and business students who want to understand the importance of sustainability and how it can drive business growth. The book provides an in-depth analysis of Ecolab’s successes and challenges, and offers practical advice on how other companies can incorporate sustainable practices into their operations.

The book explores how Ecolab has implemented sustainable practices across all areas of its business, from manufacturing and supply chain to product development and marketing. It highlights how the company is helping its customers implement water stewardship, reduce their carbon footprint, strengthen diverse communities, create a culture of sustainability, and provide impressive returns to shareholders.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts

Paul Godfrey Why did I love this book?

The most sustainable need we have is to be loved, and this book helps me learn to express love to those I care about deeply in ways they will perceive as loving.

This book made a huge difference in how I nurture family, friends, and even professional relationships. 

By Gary Chapman,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The 5 Love Languages as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Over 20 million copies sold!

A perennial New York Times bestseller for over a decade!

Falling in love is easy. Staying in love—that’s the challenge. How can you keep your relationship fresh and growing amid the demands, conflicts, and just plain boredom of everyday life?

In the #1 New York Times international bestseller The 5 Love Languages, you’ll discover the secret that has transformed millions of relationships worldwide. Whether your relationship is flourishing or failing, Dr. Gary Chapman’s proven approach to showing and receiving love will help you experience deeper and richer levels of intimacy with your partner—starting today.


Book cover of Man’s Search for Meaning

Paul Godfrey Why did I love this book?

A happy life is all about meaning, and Frankl’s story of finding and holding on to meaning during his time in the concentration camps gets to the heart of the issue.

I love the “last human freedom:” the ability to choose how we will react in any given situation. 

By Viktor Frankl,

Why should I read it?

42 authors picked Man’s Search for Meaning as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the outstanding classics to emerge from the Holocaust, Man's Search for Meaning is Viktor Frankl's story of his struggle for survival in Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps. Today, this remarkable tribute to hope offers us an avenue to finding greater meaning and purpose in our own lives.

Book cover of Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box

Paul Godfrey Why did I love this book?

This book, all about being in and getting out of “the box,” can profoundly change the way we deal with ourselves and others.

We get “in the box” when we deny our spiritual instinct to help another person. Being “in the box” leads us to treat others as objects—something we all hate.

Getting out of the box allows us to treat each other as human beings and children of God.

By Arbinger Institute,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Leadership and Self-Deception as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This third edition of an international bestseller--over 2 million copies sold worldwide and translated into 33 languages--details how its powerful insights on motivation, conflict, and collaboration can benefit organizations as well as individuals.

Since its original publication in 2000, Leadership and Self-Deception has become an international word-of-mouth phenomenon. Rather than tapering off, it sells more copies every year. The book's central insight--that the key to leadership lies not in what we do but in who we are--has proven to have powerful implications not only for organizational leadership but in readers' personal lives as well. 

Leadership and Self-Deception uses an entertaining…

Book cover of The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict

Paul Godfrey Why did I love this book?

This book is the chronological follow on, but actual precursor, to Leadership and Self-Deception.

This book explains how to have “a heart at peace” with others, and it chillingly helps us see how we so easily fall into a “heart at war” with others.

A heart at peace is essential for personal, family, firm, and community happiness and thriving. 

By The Arbinger Institute,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Anatomy of Peace as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the authors of Leadership and Self-Deception (over 2 million copies sold) comes a new edition of this bestseller that has been thoroughly revised to more effectively address the diversity, equity, and inclusion challenges that plague our communities and hinder our organizations.

What if conflicts at home, at work, and in the world stem from the same root cause? What if we systematically misunderstand that cause? And what if, as a result, we unwittingly perpetuate the very problems we think we are trying to solve?

The Anatomy of Peace uses a fictional story of an Arab and a Jew—both of…

Book cover of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Paul Godfrey Why did I love this book?

This book is all about personal productivity.

Covey’s teachings about living a quadrant II life changed the way I approach my professional life. It’s helped me fight fewer fires—because they don’t arise—and be far more productive and effective as I focus on things that are important to me, but not necessarily urgent.

The book has reinforced my belief that being mission driven is the key to happiness and a very productive professional life. 

By Stephen R. Covey,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New York Times bestseller - over 25 million copies sold
The No. 1 Most Influential Business Book of the Twentieth Century

"[Thirty] years after it first appeared, the wisdom of The 7 Habits is more relevant than ever. On an individual level people are burning out, and on a collective level we are burning up the planet. So Dr. Covey's emphasis on self-renewal and his understanding that leadership and creativity require us to tap into our own physical, mental, and spiritual resources are exactly what we need now." Arianna Huffington

One of the most inspiring and impactful books ever written,…

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Return to Hope Creek

By Alyssa J. Montgomery,

Book cover of Return to Hope Creek

Alyssa J. Montgomery Author Of A Spanish Seduction

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an Australian USA Today bestselling romance author who writes contemporary romance and uses the pen name Alyssa James to write medieval romance. I think the makeover trope resonates with me because although I’m no beauty queen now, I was definitely an ugly duckling in my teens. For reasons best known to him, my father insisted on close-cropped hair, and financial circumstances dictated out-of-style hand-me-down clothing. After university, I found my own style, but it wasn’t until I was accepted as an international flight attendant that I believed that I couldn’t be all that ugly if Qantas employed me!

Alyssa's book list on makeover romances

What is my book about?

Return to Hope Creek is a second-chance rural romance set in Australia.

Stella Simpson's career and engagement are over. She returns to the rural community of Hope Creek to heal, unaware her high school and college sweetheart, Mitchell Scott, has also moved back to town to do some healing of his own.

Mitchell, a former NFL quarterback, doesn't need the complication of encountering Stella again so long after the messy end to their relationship, but as each tries to build a new life, they are drawn together and find their chemistry is just as strong as ever.

Will their love be stronger the second time around?

Return to Hope Creek

By Alyssa J. Montgomery,

What is this book about?

When two old flames come back to their home town, sparks are bound to ignite. A rural romance from USA Today bestselling author Alyssa J. Montgomery.

A horrific car accident ended former world number-one Stella Simpson’s tennis career, and a betrayal ended her relationship with her fiancé/coach. When a family friend offers to sell her half of a property in the rural community where she grew up, it seems like the perfect place to escape, heal and begin the next phase of her life. Until she discovers that the man who broke her heart ten years ago has bought the…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in conflict management, the meaning of life, and friendships?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about conflict management, the meaning of life, and friendships.

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