The best books on decision making

59 authors have picked their favorite books about decision making and why they recommend each book.

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Thinking, Fast and Slow

By Daniel Kahneman,

Book cover of Thinking, Fast and Slow

If the study of human irrationality interests you as much as it does me, you’ll love this book! By reading it, you will learn a vast array of principles for explaining how and why people are influenced. The book is a perfect companion to my favorite theory of persuasion—the elaboration likelihood model—which helps us understand that decision-making is not always well thought out, but rather based on a multitude of cognitive shortcuts. 


Who am I?

As an undergraduate in college, I worked selling men’s clothing. There was a rack of suits that, for whatever reason, would not sell, so my boss phoned a coworker and told her to cut the price of the suits by 50 percent. Misunderstanding him, she doubled the price instead. By the time our boss returned from vacation, nearly all those suits had been sold! It made no sense to me…until I read Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence. From there, I not only sold plenty of suits, I earned a Ph.D. at the University of Southern California, and eventually was named a Distinguished Professor at Utah State University.


I wrote...

Persuasion: Social Influence and Compliance Gaining

By Robert H. Gass, John S. Seiter,

Book cover of Persuasion: Social Influence and Compliance Gaining

What is my book about?

The newest edition of this field-leading book provides a highly readable, often entertaining, yet astute, presentation of major approaches to persuasion. Using real-life examples, often involving the authors’ own persuasive mishaps, the book encourages readers to develop and apply conclusions about persuasion in real-world settings. Along the way, readers are also introduced to major theories of persuasion as they apply to the practice of social influence in an array of contexts (e.g., advertising, marketing, politics, interpersonal relationships, social media, groups) and across a variety of topics (e.g., credibility, personality, deception, motivational appeals, visual persuasion). Finally, the book not only emphasizes the goal of effective persuasion, but also the importance of being ethical in one’s attempts to influence others.

Nudge

By Richard H. Thaler, Cass R. Sunstein,

Book cover of Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness

Don't worry, this is not a conspiracy book. This is an optimistic book about the ways we can help people make better choices by designing the system around them betterpreventing car crashes, promoting better nutrition, and even increasing the pool of organ donors. It is a fascinating read about small changes around us that can create big differences.


Who am I?

As I was writing The Coincidence Makers I found out I am not writing about coincidences, at all. I found out I was writing about fate and free will, about the way we make choices, and how these choices affect us, define us and change us. Choices and the way they build our happiness is the theme of this list, which is made out of books that I read before or during the writing process of my own (fiction) book, and probably influenced it, one way or another.


I wrote...

The Coincidence Makers: A Novel

By Yoav Blum,

Book cover of The Coincidence Makers: A Novel

What is my book about?

Guy, Emily, and Eric are three seemingly ordinary people who work for a secret organization devoted to creating and carrying out coincidences. What the rest of the world sees as random occurrences, are, in fact, carefully orchestrated events designed to spark significant changes in the lives of their targets—scientists on the brink of breakthroughs, struggling artists starved for inspiration, loves to be, or just plain people like you and me…

But a secret mission, a killer who can't hurt a fly, and memories from previous lives are going to change all that and teach them about the true nature of fate, free will, and the real meaning of love.

The Effective Executive

By Peter F. Drucker,

Book cover of The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done

This book is an OG classic that contains the seed thoughts for many of today's most popular books on management, leadership, and team building. I have often found it incredibly helpful to go back to the original source of today’s widely accepted truisms to gain both perspective and a better understanding of our modern-day leadership assumptions and paradigms. This book is a case in point.


Who am I?

Dr. Larry Osborne is a leadership mentor and practitioner with a rare mix of both theological and leadership expertise. He's been a mentor and major influencer for many of the largest and fastest-growing churches in the US while providing leadership to North Coast Church as it grew from 125 to over 13,000 in weekend attendance.


I wrote...

Sticky Teams: Keeping Your Leadership Team and Staff on the Same Page

By Larry Osborne,

Book cover of Sticky Teams: Keeping Your Leadership Team and Staff on the Same Page

What is my book about?

Most books on leadership focus on the principles of team building without offering concrete and transferable strategies for removing the landmines and roadblocks that sabotage healthy teams. In many ways, it’s simply the book I wish I'd had in my early and formative days of leadership and team building to help me avoid paying my own dumb taxes.

Predictably Irrational

By Dan Ariely,

Book cover of Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

People consider themselves as rational beings, but we are notin more than one surprising way. Ariely is giving us examples and sharing stories that show us how irrational we can sometimes really be. Reading this book cannot just allow us to see things more clearly when we make our choices in life. It can also allow us to understand others, and in a weird and funny way maybe even help us be more compassionate when facing other people's mistakes.


Who am I?

As I was writing The Coincidence Makers I found out I am not writing about coincidences, at all. I found out I was writing about fate and free will, about the way we make choices, and how these choices affect us, define us and change us. Choices and the way they build our happiness is the theme of this list, which is made out of books that I read before or during the writing process of my own (fiction) book, and probably influenced it, one way or another.


I wrote...

The Coincidence Makers: A Novel

By Yoav Blum,

Book cover of The Coincidence Makers: A Novel

What is my book about?

Guy, Emily, and Eric are three seemingly ordinary people who work for a secret organization devoted to creating and carrying out coincidences. What the rest of the world sees as random occurrences, are, in fact, carefully orchestrated events designed to spark significant changes in the lives of their targets—scientists on the brink of breakthroughs, struggling artists starved for inspiration, loves to be, or just plain people like you and me…

But a secret mission, a killer who can't hurt a fly, and memories from previous lives are going to change all that and teach them about the true nature of fate, free will, and the real meaning of love.

Essentialism

By Greg McKeown,

Book cover of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

A major component of our burnout is that we’ve implicitly accepted the “more, faster, better, stronger” paradigm of productivity and are continually committing to more because we can. Until we can’t, that is. Essentialism gets us off the maximization bus and instead has us focus on fewer things that matter more.


Who am I?

I’m Charlie Gilkey, and I help people start finishing the stuff that matters. I’m the founder of Productive Flourishing, author of Start Finishing (2019) and The Small Business Lifecycle (2012) as well as the forthcoming book Workways. Before starting Productive Flourishing, I worked as a Joint Force Military Logistics Coordinator while simultaneously pursuing a PhD in Philosophy. With over ten years of coaching clients and managing the workload of running a business, I know a thing or two about how to spot burnout in a team or organization, and the steps to take to overcome it and prevent it.


I wrote...

Start Finishing: How to Go from Idea to Done

By Charlie Gilkey,

Book cover of Start Finishing: How to Go from Idea to Done

What is my book about?

How much of your time and attention lately has been focused on things that truly matter to you? Most people's honest answer is: Not enough. Everyone is buried by busy work, responsibility, distraction, and fatigue. The joy-producing, difference-making ideas are waiting for when the time is right, when the current project is over, when they have a little more money, when the kids are grown, or when they get a more understanding boss. They are waiting for someday. The trouble is: someday never comes on its own.

Start Finishing presents a nine-step method for converting an idea into a project by addressing the challenges you'll face and getting the project on a reality-based schedule.

Quality Investing

By Lawrence A. Cunningham, Torkell T. Eide, Patrick Hargreaves

Book cover of Quality Investing: Owning the Best Companies for the Long Term

If you want to own stocks for a long time to go after those 100 baggers, you’ll need to own quality assets that you don’t need to trade frequently. This book will give you an important framework for how to evaluate business quality. There are good discussions here on competitive advantages, pricing power, industry structure, and brand strength, among other things. The book has plenty of examples and is not long or hard to read.


Who am I?

I have been investing in markets for nearly 30 years. I remember first being interested in the stock market after the 1987 crash. I read everything I could about Warren Buffett. And went on to study finance in college finishing magna cum laude (and later earned my MBA). I started my professional career as a commercial banker in the early 1990s. Then, I started my own investment newsletter in 2004 and compiled a strong track record over the next 12 years, wrote four books, and traveled all over the world in search of great investment ideas. I’ve appeared as a guest on TV and radio shows, as well as numerous podcasts. In 2019, I co-founded Woodlock House Family Capital where I currently manage a portfolio of global investments.


I wrote...

100 Baggers: Stocks That Return 100-to-1 and How To Find Them

By Christopher W. Mayer,

Book cover of 100 Baggers: Stocks That Return 100-to-1 and How To Find Them

What is my book about?

When I studied 100-baggers of the past, definite patterns emerged. In this book, you will learn the key characteristics of 100-baggers and why anybody can do this. It is truly an everyman's approach. You don't need an MBA or a finance degree. Some basic financial concepts are all you need along with a number of crutches or techniques that can help you get more out of your stocks and investing. The emphasis is always on the practical, so there are many stories and anecdotes to help illustrate important points. You should read this book if you want to get more out of your stocks. Even if you never get a 100-bagger, this book will help you turn up big winners and keep you away from losers and sleepy stocks that go nowhere.

The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding

By Al Ries, Laura Ries,

Book cover of The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding: How to Build a Product or Service into a World-Class Brand

With The 22 Immutable Laws, you will get an enhanced understanding of how business works, and what kinds of approaches are most likely to be highly successful. Just about every product or service is about branding, first and foremost, and in The 22 Immutable Laws, you will clearly see how.


Who am I?

I am always trying to get a leg up in life, and I figured one of the best ways to do that is through investments. I have learned that by understanding how capitalism and business works, I was able to spot plenty of major opportunities in the economy all around us.


I wrote...

Penny Stocks for Dummies

By Peter Leeds,

Book cover of Penny Stocks for Dummies

What is my book about?

The growing popularity of penny stocks can be attributed to a combination of increased understanding and tough economic times. Penny Stocks For Dummies explains the basics of penny stocks and provides expert guidance to help you get involved right away.

Penny Stocks For Dummies provides you with the information and advice you need before considering an investment in penny stocks, as well as the tools needed to make sound investments. You'll also get expert guidance on identifying growth trends and market sectors positioned for rapid growth, finding undiscovered penny stocks, and understanding the fundamentals of a potential investment in penny stocks.

Finish Strong

By Barbara Coombs Lee,

Book cover of Finish Strong: Putting Your Priorities First at Life's End

Barbara Coombs Lee is a nurse, lawyer, and leader of the movement to promote assisted death in the United States and around the world for people with terminal illnesses. Lee is a patient advocate at heart, a position she embodied given her work as a nurse. In this book, she provides a humane, eye witness view of what she saw as a nurse that inspired her to spark a movement that strives to give patients control over their bodies and medical decisions.


Who am I?

As a physician, I have been in innumerable situations where people and their loved ones were facing off a serious illness but felt like they were completely lost. The reality of the end of life is nothing like how we have experienced it throughout our history. I have written about end-of-life care for the New York Times, Washington Post, and The Atlantic amongst others, but felt that this was such an important and vast issue that it deserved a deeper dive. My research also focuses on end-of-life care and I was able to weave a story presented through stories, historical texts, and research papers in a way that readers will feel like they have a map of just how life and death have evolved with scientific advances and a changing society. It doesn’t hurt that I trained at Harvard Medical School and Duke University, providing me the best environments to shape my views and perspective.


I wrote...

Modern Death: How Medicine Changed the End of Life

By Haider Warraich,

Book cover of Modern Death: How Medicine Changed the End of Life

What is my book about?

As a physician, on an almost daily basis, I have countless encounters with patients and family members who find themselves in some of the most difficult circumstances in their lives. Many of them find themselves facing death, an experience that they find completely alien and foreign. The fact is that how we die these days is diametrically different from how we have died as a species for our entire history.

Modern Death provides a historical and scientific review of how death and dying have evolved over the past few decades and provides an in-depth overview of the landscape of the end of life in our society. I tackle some of the basic questions of death – the whys, wheres, whens, and hows – but also some larger questions. Technological and social changes have made death and dying completely unfamiliar terrain for most people. I wanted to write something that would spread this message beyond the four walls of my clinic or hospital.

The Art of Choosing

By Sheena Iyengar,

Book cover of The Art of Choosing

Almost everyone has more stuff than they can hold at once. Picking up something new involves setting down something that you already had. Iyengar’s book is the background for every marketing decision ever made, but from the consumer’s perspective: when there is so much stuff in the world, how do you make a choice? Part psychology, part business manual, Iyengar illustrates how much decision-making we do every single day.


Who am I?

I’m an archaeologist, which means that I’ve been lucky enough to travel to many places to dig and survey ancient remains. What I’ve realized in handling those dusty old objects is that all over the world, in both past and present, people are defined by their stuff: what they made, used, broke, and threw away. Most compelling are the things that people cherished despite being worn or flawed, just like we have objects in our house that are broken or old but that we keep anyway.


I wrote...

Cities: The First 6,000 Years

By Monica L. Smith,

Book cover of Cities: The First 6,000 Years

What is my book about?

Cities are such a strange concept that they had to be invented: in the deep past, everyone lived in villages. Yet cities provide so many things that a village cannot: diversity, entertainment, higher education, economic opportunities, and a sense of excitement accompanied by ever-increasing quantities of stuff. How did cities get started? What characteristics do modern cities share with ancient ones, both positive and negative? And what is it like to actually dig a city as an archaeologist, going down to the very bottom of the earliest urban centers to find out what made them so attractive to ancient inhabitants? 


Thinking in Bets

By Annie Duke,

Book cover of Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts

I never realized it, but purchasing a house is a bet. Sales negotiations and contracts are bets. Job and relocation decisions are bets. This fascinating book claims that even ordering the chicken and not steak is a bet. Yes, everything is a bet. Thinking in Bets helps us re-examine our view of the world, and enhance all facets of decision-making in our lives.

The author says that we are overly biased in our decision-making. We con ourselves into accepting our beliefs, whether or not they're even worthy of our trust. Worse, our biases invariably hamper our decision-making. And gosh, we're so quick to develop beliefs, we gravitate towards absolutes ('this is wrong, that is right'), and fall prey to “motivated reasoning,” searching for confirmation while all but ignoring contradictory evidence.

I didn't know that believing is so easy – we are hardwired to believe. Our beliefs then impact how we…


Who am I?

I am the recognized expert on work-life balance, harmony, and integrative issues, and since 2009, hold the registered trademark from the USPTO as the “Work-Life Balance Expert®." My books have been featured in 68 of the top 75 American newspapers and, in two instances, advertised in Time Magazine and The Wall Street Journal. In all, 16 of my books are published in Chinese, among them Simpler Living, appearing as a 3-volume set, Everyday Project Management, The 60 Second Innovator, The 60 Second Organizer, The 60 Second Self-Starter, Ten Minute Guide to Time Management, and Ten Minute Guide to Project Management. I also have 13 books published in Arabic.

I wrote...

The 60 Second Innovator

By Jeff Davidson,

Book cover of The 60 Second Innovator

What is my book about?

The 60 Second Innovator asserts that nearly everyone would want to be an innovator if they could. Only a fraction of professionals within an organization, however, prove to be innovators. Unfortunately, most people in the working world head into their jobs the same as they always have; they approach their tasks much the same, attempt to stay within their comfort zones all day long, depart, and return the next day to repeat the process.  

If you work for a company that encourages innovation, lucky you!  If not, that doesn't mean you're up the creek in the day-to-day execution of your job. You can adopt the mindset of an innovator right where you are, with what you have and The 60 Second Innovator will serve as your handy guide.

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