The most recommended books on execution

Who picked these books? Meet our 26 experts.

26 authors created a book list connected to execution, and here are their favorite execution books.
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Book cover of Practice Perfect: 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting Better

Barron Ryan Author Of Honey, If It Wasn't for You

From my list on finding your voice.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a musician with a singular mission: to discover and present the beauty I’m uniquely positioned for. You may not expect a concert pianist to co-write a song with a man he would never meet, much less write an illustrated storybook about it. But given how I’ve learned to use my voice, I didn’t hesitate to become a first-time author with an illustrated storybook. May these recommendations help you find your voice as well.

Barron's book list on finding your voice

Barron Ryan Why did Barron love this book?

No one’s voice is fully formed from the beginning. It takes work to refine it, and that’s where this book is invaluable.

Even though I had practiced piano for more than 20 years when I read Practice Perfect, I still found helpful insights for improving. My favorite rule is number 31: normalize error. “Failure is normal and not the indicator of a lack of skill.”

This is an excellent book for anyone who wants to get better at anything. That probably includes you.

By Doug Lemov, Erica Woolway, Katie Yezzi

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Practice Perfect as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Rules for developing talent with disciplined, deliberate, intelligent practice

We live in a competition loving culture. We love the performance, the big win, the ticking seconds of the clock as the game comes down to the wire. We watch games and cheer, sometimes to the point of obsession, but if we really wanted to see greatness-wanted to cheer for it, see it happen, understand what made it happen-we'd spend our time watching, obsessing on, and maybe even cheering the practices instead. This book puts practice on the front burner of all who seek to instill talent and achievement in others…


Book cover of Uncommon Measure: A Journey Through Music, Performance, and the Science of Time

Annik LaFarge Author Of Chasing Chopin: A Musical Journey Across Three Centuries, Four Countries, and a Half-Dozen Revolutions

From my list on bringing music to life history listening joy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I took piano lessons as a kid, but my teacher was imperious and boring. In my mid-30s I started thinking about it again, and my partner bought me a state-of-the-art Yamaha keyboard as a Valentine’s Day present. I found a wonderful teacher, Rafael Cortés, who worked at a community music school a few blocks from my office. Every piece we worked on began with a conversation about the composer, the period in which she/he wrote the piece, and the other artists–painters, sculptors, poets–who were working then. I fell in love with both playing and learning about music, and more than 30 years later, I’m still taking weekly lessons with Rafael. 

Annik's book list on bringing music to life history listening joy

Annik LaFarge Why did Annik love this book?

I was struck by the ease with which Hodges moves from her own experience learning the violin to the scientific underpinnings of her subject: from math, physics, and neurology to quantum mechanics, biology, and entanglement theory, always in search of a clue to how music informs our experience of time.

Complex topics are suddenly eased by an anecdote from her personal life and practice: a bow dropping during Paganini or the story of her mother buying her “a red dress, bright as D major.” There’s a quality of searching that runs through these essays, both for scientific meaning in music as well a deeper understanding of the dynamics of her own life. 

By Natalie Hodges,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Uncommon Measure as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD LONGLIST
NPR "BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR" SELECTION
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS' CHOICE

A virtuosic debut from a gifted violinist searching for a new mode of artistic becoming

How does time shape consciousness and consciousness, time? Do we live in time, or does time live in us? And how does music, with its patterns of rhythm and harmony, inform our experience of time?

Uncommon Measure explores these questions from the perspective of a young Korean American who dedicated herself to perfecting her art until performance anxiety forced her to give up the dream of becoming a concert…


Book cover of Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity

Joe Contrera Author Of Extraordinary Results for Life: Discover Your Path to Be UN-ordinary

From my list on transforming your business and your life!.

Why am I passionate about this?

For nearly 40 years, I have studied and written about blending the business world and the spiritual side of life together. By spiritual, I mean everything to do with our purpose and why we exist. I refer to this as being ALIVE @ WORK ®. We spend countless hours at work doing a j-o-b, when what we want most is knowing that we are making a difference in our lives and the lives of others. The key is taking 100% responsibility for our lives, knowing we have the power to change them in an instant. You will find this thread woven through all of my books and those I recommend.

Joe's book list on transforming your business and your life!

Joe Contrera Why did Joe love this book?

A very well-written book by a reporter from the New York Times (also the author of The Power of Habit). The author's style of writing, which is then blended with stories of people and organizations, kept me glued as if I was reading a news story.

It is one of the best books written on productivity I have ever read! There is such a broad range of people and stories, but all wrapped up into eight key concepts about focus and productivity. This book can help you understand why some folks (organizations) are so much more productive than others.

By Charles Duhigg,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Smarter Faster Better as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In his international bestseller The Power of Habit, Pulitzer Prize-winner Charles Duhigg explained why we do what we do. Now he applies the same relentless curiosity and masterful analysis to the question: how can each of us achieve more?

Drawing on the very latest findings in neuroscience, psychology and behavioural economics, he demonstrates the eight simple principles that govern productivity. He demonstrates how the most dynamic and effective people - from CEOs to film-makers to software entrepreneurs - deploy them. And he shows how you can, too.

'Charles has some wonderful advice for increasing productivity . . . the tips…


Book cover of Edge: Turning Adversity Into Advantage

Roberta Chinsky Matuson Author Of Can We Talk?: Seven Principles for Managing Difficult Conversations at Work

From my list on maximizing your talent.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m one of the world’s leading experts on the maximization of talent, who is the author of six books on leadership and talent. I’m also a LinkedIn Top Voice in Leadership and Workplace, and one of the few people who was a guest on The O’Reilly Factor, with Bill O’Reilly, who left the show unscathed.

Roberta's book list on maximizing your talent

Roberta Chinsky Matuson Why did Roberta love this book?

I can’t recall the last time I read a business book in less than a week’s time. Laura’s book is so well written that I didn’t want to put it down. I loved this book so much, that I made it a point to meet the author. Laura Huang shows that success is about gaining an edge: that elusive quality that gives you an upper hand and attracts attention and support. She teaches you how to find a competitive edge when the obstacles feel insurmountable. Having met Laura, I can tell you she writes exactly how she speaks. Great book. Grab a copy.

By Laura Huang,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Edge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There's power in owning the obstacles you might face. This book shows you how to unlock it.

In an ideal world, we'd succeed based on our actual skills and performance. But in the real world, subtle perceptions and stereotypes - about appearance, race, gender, experience and more - colour others' perceptions. The result might be that your hard work isn't noticed or appreciated, your effort doesn't lead to proportional rewards and your good ideas aren't taken seriously.

But it doesn't have to be that way. As Harvard Business School Professor Laura Huang has discovered, there's a way to flip stereotypes…


Book cover of Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening

Paul Harris Author Of You Can Read Music: The Practical Guide

From my list on musical pedagogy.

Why am I passionate about this?

Paul Harris is one of the UK’s most influential music educationalists. He studied the clarinet at the Royal Academy of Music, where he won the August Manns Prize for outstanding performance in clarinet playing and where he now teaches. He is in great demand as a teacher, composer, and writer (he has written over 600 books); and his inspirational masterclasses and workshops continue to influence thousands of young musicians and teachers all over the world in both the principles and practice of musical performance and education.

Paul's book list on musical pedagogy

Paul Harris Why did Paul love this book?

This book explores music in a delightfully refreshing way where the author considers music essentially an activity and develops his concept of ‘musicking’ or ‘doing music’ in all its various ways. He gives much confidence to those who may think ‘they are not very good at music’ to take part in a much more enthusiastic and practical way. It’s a lovely way in to the exploration of this wonderful art.

By Christopher Small,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Musicking as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Extending the inquiry of his early groundbreaking books, Christopher Small strikes at the heart of traditional studies of Western music by asserting that music is not a thing, but rather an activity. In this new book, Small outlines a theory of what he terms "musicking," a verb that encompasses all musical activity from composing to performing to listening to a Walkman to singing in the shower.

Using Gregory Bateson's philosophy of mind and a Geertzian thick description of a typical concert in a typical symphony hall, Small demonstrates how musicking forms a ritual through which all the participants explore and…


Book cover of First Things First

Devora Zack Author Of Singletasking: Get More Done one Thing at a Time

From my list on to singletask what matters most.

Why am I passionate about this?

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” - Goethe. As Singletasking notes, we’ve become relentlessly disrespectful of the people and experiences right in front of us. Reversing this is a mission of mine. Nothing seems more important than redirecting our lifelong attention to what matters most. As an international author and speaker about both Singletasking and personality styles, I’m convinced paying attention to and honoring each other is the key to a meaningful life and deep relationships.

Devora's book list on to singletask what matters most

Devora Zack Why did Devora love this book?

Covey is internationally acclaimed for The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. However, I have a penchant for his also famous First Things First, a gem with visceral concepts that stick like honey in the brain. 

For example, the brilliance behind “Quad Two”—shorthand for items and to-dos that are important yet not urgent. Because they are not pressing, the things (and people) that matter most often get waylaid—propelling us into a life missing our passions and aspirations. Only cropping back up when they do become urgent—such as neglecting health until we can’t fully function.

And who can proceed in life unchanged following his introduction of the “Big Rocks” concept. I won’t do a spoiler alert. Let’s just say it merges prioritization with a singletasked focus.

Finally, I’m a sucker for the thoughtful worksheets nestled throughout First Things First.

By Stephen R. Covey, A. Roger Merrill, Rebecca R. Merrill

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked First Things First as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The authors of this book apply insights from their previous book, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People", to the daily problems of people who must struggle with the demands of work and home life. Rather than focusing on time and change, the book emphasizes relationships and results.


Book cover of The Whatifs

Jennifer E. Morris Author Of Much Too Much Birthday (Maud the Koala)

From my list on worried or anxious children.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a children’s book creator and a parent. Raising an anxious child can be challenging. Events that many children find fun and exciting can be overwhelming and scary for your child. Seemingly small changes in their daily routine can throw some youngsters into a swirl of emotions that is upsetting to them and to those who love them. When I was searching for picture books to help the young worrier in my life, I looked for books that acknowledged their distressing feelings while giving them some strategies with which to cope with their overwhelming emotions. That premise became the theme of my Maud the Koala book series. 

Jennifer's book list on worried or anxious children

Jennifer E. Morris Why did Jennifer love this book?

Cora has a bad case of the whatifs, whimiscal bug-like creatures that follow her everywhere. They fill her head with worries like “what if the dog runs away?” or “what if I forget my homework?” The whatifs become almost unbearable as Cora prepares for her big piano recital. What if no one comes? What if she makes a mistake? But through the help of her friend, Cora learns there are also happy whatifs. A good introduction to replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. 

By Emily Kilgore, Zoe Persico (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Whatifs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

"Persico's atmospheric illustrations aptly reflect Cora's shifting emotions, and Kilgore successfully balances the whimsical with a tale grounded in reality." -Publishers Weekly

"Cora and her Whatifs have a charming appeal beyond their focus on tackling anxious thoughts, making an enjoyable read-aloud for wide audiences. . . . A thoroughly welcome addition to growing collections of socio-emotional development materials." -Kirkus Reviews

Cora is struggling with her Whatif questions ahead of a big piano recital in this timely picture book about overcoming anxiety.

What if my dog runs away?
What if I forget my homework?
What if the sun stops shining?
What…


Book cover of Gustavo, the Shy Ghost

Lenny Wen Author Of Wolfgang in the Meadow

From my list on picture books with creepy and cute ghosts.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a fan of horror stories since I was a kid. As an introverted and shy kid, I used to joke with my best friend about how I felt like a ghost and wished I had the power to be invisible. After I became a children’s book author/illustrator, I became fascinated with ghost picture books and started collecting them. Ghost picture books not only fulfilled my spooky necessities but also gave me warmth and heartfelt emotions.

Lenny's book list on picture books with creepy and cute ghosts

Lenny Wen Why did Lenny love this book?

Gustavo is one of the most adorable ghosts, and his story is so relatable. As an introverted and shy person, I can relate to all of Gustavo’s struggles, especially the struggle with making friends.

Flavia’s artwork is so fantastic, expressive, and vibrant. I love the characters and textures. I also love how Flavia applied Mexican culture to the artwork.

By Flavia Z. Drago,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gustavo, the Shy Ghost as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

A story of friendship and courage - perfect for the spooky season or all year round!

Gustavo is a ghost. He is good at doing all sorts of paranormal things, like walking through walls, making objects fly and glowing in the dark. And he loves playing beautiful music on his violin. But Gustavo also has a problem. He is SHY. Which means some things are harder for him to do, like getting in a line to buy eye-scream or talking to the other monsters. But Gustavo longs to be a part of something, he longs to be seen. More than…


Book cover of Ending Medical Reversal: Improving Outcomes, Saving Lives

Sylvester J. Schieber Author Of Healthcare USA: American Exceptionalism Run Amok

From my list on why healthcare is a cancer on the American Dream.

Why am I passionate about this?

I spent nearly 30 years consulting with employers about the design and operation of the health insurance and retirement benefits they provided their workers. In my work, I was familiar with economic studies showing that workers’ wages and salaries have been increasingly skewed toward higher earners and was convinced the results were less pronounced for workers' total rewards.. In developing my analysis I came to understand that the cost of employees’ health insurance was consuming a large share of workers’ growing rewards. This led me to explore how the US health system was imposing much higher costs on workers than any other segment of society and how we might address the problem.

Sylvester's book list on why healthcare is a cancer on the American Dream

Sylvester J. Schieber Why did Sylvester love this book?

These medical doctors explore the introduction of new medical practices that are subsequently shown to be of no value to patients or even harmful.

Prasad and Cifu report on a variety of procedures and practices often used widely that have been proven ineffective. They review 10 years of a prominent medical journal's articles reporting the results of efficacy studies of existing and new practices.

Of 363 articles reporting on the results of studies on existing practices, 40.2 percent indicated the practice of no value or harmful to the patients and another 21.8 percent were inconclusive on whether the practice was beneficial or not.

In looking at 981 articles on studies of new practices, 16.8 percent found the practice of no benefit or harmful and another 6.1 percent were inconclusive.

In the latter sections of their discussion, they describe ways to address the prevalence of what they call “medical reversals.”

By Vinayak K. Prasad, Adam S. Cifu,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ending Medical Reversal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why medicine adopts ineffective or harmful medical practices only to abandon them-sometimes too late.

Medications such as Vioxx and procedures such as vertebroplasty for back pain are among the medical "advances" that turned out to be dangerous or useless. What Dr. Vinayak K. Prasad and Dr. Adam S. Cifu call medical reversal happens when doctors start using a medication, procedure, or diagnostic tool without a robust evidence base-and then stop using it when it is found not to help, or even to harm, patients.

In Ending Medical Reversal, Drs. Prasad and Cifu narrate fascinating stories from every corner of medicine…


Book cover of Live Music in America: A History from Jenny Lind to Beyoncé

Seth Mallios Author Of Let it Rock! Live From San Diego State

From my list on die-hard rockers.

Why am I passionate about this?

While it is tempting to insist that the reason we wrote a five-volume set on the history of local rock ‘n’ roll was as context for rescuing the famed 1976 “Backdoor Mural,” it’s not entirely true. Jaime and I love live music, mark major life events with important musical milestones, and delight in bizarre musical tangents. Music moves us, history matters, and the intersection of song and society is profound, elucidating, and eternally relevant.

Seth's book list on die-hard rockers

Seth Mallios Why did Seth love this book?

Few books on popular music history include analysis of the evolving conditions of live concerts. Most inventory the top shows and offer quirky anecdotes, but Steve Waksman’s Live Music in America: A History from Jenny Lind to Beyoncé refuses to separate the actual performance from the numerous behind-the-scene individuals that shaped the shows. Readers will come to appreciate diverse influences over a turbulent 170-year history that have led to today’s modern music festival.

By Steve Waksman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Live Music in America as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When the Swedish concert singer Jenny Lind toured the U.S. in 1850, she became the prototype for the modern pop star. Meanwhile, her manager, P.T. Barnum, became the prototype for another figure of enduring significance: the pop culture impresario. Starting with Lind's fabled U.S. tour and winding all the way into the twenty-first century, Live Music in America surveys the ongoing impact and changing conditions of live music performance in the U.S. It covers
a range of historic performances, from the Fisk Jubilee Singers expanding the sphere of African American music in the 1870s, to Benny Goodman bringing swing to…