I have two rules for a great book: make me think and make me smile. I spent part of the summer reading advance copies of the fall’s top nonfiction releases, and here are eight that sail over the bar:
1. The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis (December)
The spellbinding storyteller behind Moneyball, The Blind Side, and The Big Short is back. He explores the friendship that exposed irrationality, transformed our understanding of decision-making, and won Daniel Kahneman a Nobel Prize in economics.
2. Messy by Tim Harford (October)
The undercover economist at the Financial Times shows that if you want to be creative and resilient, you need a little more disorder in your world. It’s a masterful case for the life-changing magic of cluttering up.
3. 100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings by Sarah Cooper (October)
An ex-Googler offers a highly amusing look at how people try to impress others. Here’s a sample:
4. Pre-Suasion by Robert Cialdini (September)
The world’s foremost expert on influence reveals that the most important drivers of persuasion aren’t the words you choose in the moment, but how you set the stage beforehand.
5. Feminist Fight Club by Jessica Bennett (September)
With mighty wit, a talented Time columnist shows women how to defeat the enemies of inequality — and men how to stop being enemies. I was not prepared to laugh out loud so many times while learning so much about a serious topic.
6. The Fix by Jonathan Tepperman (September)
Just when it looks like the world’s problems couldn’t get much worse, the Foreign Affairs editor takes us on an eye-opening tour of local villages, cabinet rooms, and presidential palaces where some outstanding leaders have made real strides toward solving colossal economic and political challenges.
7. Take Pride by Jessica Tracy (September)
The leading authority on the deadly sin shines a light on its hidden virtues. Yes, pride can get us in trouble, but it’s one of the most powerful engines of achievement and innovation. As she puts it, entrepreneurs, scientists, and inventors don’t just want to create something new; they want to be the one who creates it.
8. Forward by Abby Wambach (September)
This is the best memoir I’ve read by an athlete since Andre Agassi’s, but it is much more than a book about sports. It’s a candid, moving account of the thrills and toils of achieving greatness — and then sustaining it.