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7 CEOs on the ‘Innovative' and ‘Timely' Books Everyone Should Read This Winter

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In addition to gathering with friends and family, the holiday break is a good time to take a breather and unwind with a good book or two.

Many of the world's most successful CEOs and business leaders swear by their reading habit. In fact, when a group of Columbia Business School students asked Warren Buffett the key to success in 2000, he said, "Read 500 pages like this every day," while reaching toward a stack of manuals and papers. "That's how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it."

CNBC Make It asked 7 CEOs to share their favorite reads for the holiday season. From inspirational non-fiction to deep-dives on the latest trends in business, consider these titles to expand your reading list: 

'Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order: Why Nations Succeed and Fail'

By Ray Dalio 

Recommended by Cathy Tie, CEO and founder of Locke Bio: 

"It's a timely book to read during a changing time in the world economy and shifting political landscapes. Ray Dalio explores the patterns of empires and nations in the last 500 years, and describes economic, political and societal indicators correlated with their rise and falls. They say that the best way to predict the future is by studying the past, and this book provides a crisp perspective into history that is especially relevant today in the United States." 

'Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know'

By Adam Grant 

Recommended by Dr. Rosina Racioppi, president and CEO of WOMEN Unlimited, Inc.: 

"I am a huge fan of Adam Grant. In 'Think Again,' Grant leverages research and stories to help us understand how to build the intellectual and emotional muscle needed to stay curious about the world around us to help us actually change it! It is so timely and necessary given the pace of work and the amount of distractions. It's also important for leaders to understand how to think again as they are leading in these challenging times."

'Embrace the Work, Love Your Career'

By Fran Hauser 

Recommended by Tiffany Dufu, founder and CEO of The Cru: 

"Last year when I received the advanced manuscript for 'Embrace The Work, Love Your Career,' I immediately found the book innovative. She encourages the reader to foster 'evidence-based confidence' to cultivate their own self-assurance.

Unlike reading a typical book, which can feel passive, 'Embrace The Work, Love Your Career' is an experiential journal. There are meditations, reflections and even blank pages for doodling. I recommend lighting a candle, pour yourself a glass of wine or cup of tea, and preparing to be fully immersed and active as Hauser takes you on a journey of self-discovery."

'Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box'

By The Arbinger Institute 

Recommended by Timothy Chi, CEO of The Knot Worldwide:

"We have all heard that being a better listener is the hallmark of a good leader and business owner. This book is a quick read that really helped me connect to the ways we tend to tell ourselves stories to self-justify our thoughts and actions. Understanding how we can be more self-aware about our own innate motivators as well as those you are interacting with, whether it's in a manager-employee relationship or an owner-potential customer relationship, can really help lead to better outcomes."

'The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon'

By Kevin Federko 

Recommended by Jim Szafranski, CEO of Prezi: 

"This is a really fun read for anyone who enjoys adventure storytelling. And, while it's primarily a way to take a break over the holidays, it also has some relevance to the world we live in today. It's set in the American West, which is facing historic climate challenges and the scale of the challenge really comes to life with the story taking place during a glut of water in the West. 

But, it's not a climate book — I find that it's a story of achievement and craftsmanship, told through the eyes of adversaries, and it weaves together the building of America's great dams and the adventurers who become conservationists due to their connection with the natural world." 

'A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy'

By William B. Irvine 

Recommended by Daragh Murphy, co-founder and CEO of Imprint:

"This book helps me put the day-to-day in perspective, but through a philosophical versus a cosmological lens. It's full of reminders that the frustration, impatience and hurt we feel every day is mostly self created rather than inflicted by those around us … which can be very helpful around the Thanksgiving dinner table! But I have to admit that I always tell friends to skip the first three chapters on the history of Stoic philosophy, which can get pretty dry and are much less helpful than the latter chapters on stoic lessons for everyday life." 

'Animal, Vegetable, Junk: A History of Food, from Sustainable to Suicidal'

By Mark Bittman

Recommended by Geneva Long, founder and CEO of Bowlus: 

"On its face, this book is about humanity's relationship to food. But from a business and economics perspective, it's a fascinating case study in externalities and unintended consequences. As business leaders, we're constantly thinking about the second and third-order effects of our immediate decisions and this book is a great reminder to carefully consider which activities you are trying to incentivize in your organization and amongst your customers." 

Check out:

Here are Bill Gates' 5 new book recommendations for your holiday reading list

3 books that will change your mindset about work and success, according to a career coach

The 5 best books to help you live a happier, more balanced life in 2022, according to a burnout coach

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