Reading List: The Best Books of 2015

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Inspiring and Motivating

In Do the KIND Thing, Daniel Lubetzky traces his evolution from a Wall Street legal eagle in training to a young man determined to create a “not-only-for-profit” company with a socially conscious heart. Even when his first entrepreneurial foray failed miserably, Lubestzky persevered. He eventually founded KIND Healthy Snacks, a successful enterprise that creates opportunities for economic cooperation among people in conflict. Lubetzky encourages readers to think boundlessly, work purposefully and live passionately. (Ballantine Books; $26)

Many cautioned Kiva co-founder Jessica Jackley about the perils of launching the first online micro-lending platform for the working poor. Jackley didn’t cave. In Clay Water Brick, she charts the nonprofit’s steps and missteps, imparts valuable advice on how to handle it all, and shares the profound lessons that Kiva entrepreneurs taught her about life and business. (Spiegel & Grau; $28)

Brothers Bert and John Jacobs merrily recount how their simple yet powerful “life is good” philosophy (it’s not easy; it’s not perfect; it’s good) put them on the path to personal fulfillment and a $100 million apparel empire that gives back to kids in crisis. Illustrated with the brand’s iconic artwork, Life is Good is a charming and enjoyable read that inspires, motivates and educates. (National Geographic; $25)


In No One Understands You and What to Do About It, psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D., shows that how you perceive yourself often differs dramatically from how others perceive you. As she explains, average folks aren’t all that adept at reading facial cues and are frequently unaware of their unconscious biases. Halvorson parses it all and provides workarounds in this fascinating study of perception and self-awareness. (Harvard Business Review Press; $22)

After reading Tony Crabbe’s delightful takedown of Busy as an excuse, explanation and form of self-aggrandizement, you’ll be inclined to delete the word from your lexicon while incorporating Crabbe’s techniques and tactics to regain control of your life. (Grand Central Publishing; $28)

In What to Do When You’re New, psychologist Keith Rollag explains how to overcome the anxiety, fears and self-imposed obstacles that keep people from feeling at ease in social situations. Rollag identifies the genesis of these social fears and offers various self-directed approaches to help readers overcome their awkwardness and expand their comfort zones. (AMACOM; $18)

Face-to-face conversation is a uniquely human interaction that may be in jeopardy, Sherry Turkle writes in Reclaiming Conversation. With technology, people are always connected from a distance and rarely communicate in person. Turkle deftly explores and explains the good and bad of this “flight from conversation” while encouraging parents, teachers and bosses to champion conversation, use technology more intentionally and serve as role models. (Penguin Press; $28)


Finding fulfillment and satisfaction as life’s small triumphs are the welcome messages of Little Victories by Jason Gay. While opining on everyday life with humor and wisdom, Gay points out the danger of elevating unimportant events into real stressors. Humor, heartwarming anecdotes and great storytelling make Little Victories a big win. (Doubleday; $25)

Given a choice, most of us favor stability and predictably over the uncertainty of Surprise, writes self-described “surprisologists” Tania Luna and LeeAnn Renninger. The authors explain why learning to embrace the unexpected builds resilience and strengthens the ability to bounce back from negative events as well as transform them into opportunities to go in a new, positive direction. (Perigee Books; $27)

Creative living is about constructing a life “driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear,” according to Elizabeth Gilbert in Big Magic. The author of Eat, Pray, Love nudges readers to release fear, summon courage and allow the creative jewels hidden within us to blossom and grow. Encouraging and astute insights mixed with revealing personal anecdotes add up to a rewarding read. (Riverhead Books; $25)


This article appears in the December 2015 issue of SUCCESS magazine.

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