Editor’s Book Picks

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Here are some titles to check out, ranging from advice about success, personal growth, business and a hilarious look at dorm life.

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

Pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth shows anyone striving to succeed—be it parents, students, educators, athletes or business people—that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence that she calls “grit.”

Drawing on her own powerful story as the daughter of a scientist who frequently noted her lack of “genius,” Duckworth, now a celebrated researcher and professor, describes her early eye-opening stints in teaching, business consulting and neuroscience, which led to the hypothesis that what really drives success is not “genius” but a unique combination of passion and long-term perseverance.

In Grit, she takes readers into the field to visit cadets struggling through their first days at West Point, teachers working in some of the toughest schools, and young finalists in the National Spelling Bee. She also mines fascinating insights from history and shows what can be gleaned from modern experiments in peak performance. Finally, she shares what she’s learned from interviewing dozens of high achievers—from JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon to New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff to Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.

Among Grit’s most valuable insights:

• Why any effort you make ultimately counts twice toward your goal
• How grit can be learned, regardless of IQ or circumstances
• How lifelong interest is triggered
• How much of optimal practice is suffering and how much ecstasy
• Which is better for your child—a warm embrace or high standards
• The magic of the Hard Thing Rule

Winningly personal, insightful, and even life-changing, Grit is a book about what goes through your head when you fall down, and how that—not talent or luck—makes all the difference.

Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

At last, a book that shows you how to build—design—a life you can thrive in, at any age or stage. Designers create worlds and solve problems using design thinking. Look around your office or home—at the tablet or smartphone you may be holding or the chair you are sitting in. Everything in our lives was designed by someone. And every design starts with a problem that a designer or team of designers seeks to solve.

In Designing Your Life, Burnett and Evans show us how design thinking can help us create a life that is both meaningful and fulfilling, regardless of who or where we are, what we do or have done for a living, or how young or old we are.

The same design thinking responsible for amazing technology, products and spaces can be used to design and build your career and your life, a life of fulfillment and joy, constantly creative and productive, one that always holds the possibility of surprise.

Crack The Code: Decrypting Your Job Search by Reid A. Robison and Joseph Ellsworth

Can’t find a job—let alone your dream job? Uncover the secret in Crack The Code and land the job you want. Realize your potential and learn:

• How to create a résumé that pops
• How to prepare the best two-minute “elevator speech”
• How to most effectively answer common interview questions
• How to construct a career development plan

Learn the skills you need now to be a competitive candidate for the jobs you want.

Goodnight Dorm Room: All the Advice I Wish I Got Before Going to College by Keith Riegert, Sam Kaplan and Emily Fromm

It’s one of the most amazing experiences life has to offer. But what actually happens there? How do you make the most of four transforming years? What should you expect? And what the heck is a roommate? This book answers the most pressing questions that college-bound high school graduates probably never think to ask. Like: Why should I get to my dorm room early on Day 1? Or is it really a bad idea if I major in archaeology? And how does one use a “washing machine”?

Fully illustrated by talented San Francisco-based artist Emily Fromm, this book has all the advice and information that every college grad wishes they had gotten before freshman year started.

Eyes Wide Open: Overcoming Obstacles and Recognizing Opportunities in a World That Can’t See Clearly by Isaac Lidsky

Lidsky draws on his experience of achieving immense success, joy, and fulfillment while losing his sight to a blinding disease to show us that it isn’t external circumstances, but how we perceive and respond to them, that governs our reality.

Fear has a tendency to give us tunnel vision—we fill the unknown with our worst imaginings and cling to what’s familiar. But when confronted with new challenges, we need to think more broadly and adapt. When Lidsky learned that he was beginning to go blind at age 13, eventually losing his sight entirely by the time he was 25, he initially thought that blindness would mean an end to his early success and his hopes for the future. Paradoxically, losing his sight gave him the vision to take responsibility for his reality and thrive. Lidsky graduated from Harvard College at age 19, served as a Supreme Court law clerk, fathered four children, and turned a failing construction subcontractor into a highly profitable business.

Whether we’re blind or not, our vision is limited by our past experiences, biases, and emotions. Lidsky shows us how we can overcome paralyzing fears, avoid falling prey to our own assumptions and faulty leaps of logic, silence our inner critic, harness our strength, and live with open hearts and minds. In sharing his hard-won insights, Lidsky shows us how we too can confront life’s trials with initiative, humor and grace.

Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent by Sydney Finkelstein

Superbosses exist in nearly every industry, from the glamorous to the mundane. They are defined by consistent success in their fields and their approach to finding, nurturing and developing talent. If you study the top 50 leaders in any field, as many as one-third will have once worked for a superboss.

After 10 years of research and more than 200 interviews with superbosses, including technology CEO Larry Ellison and fashion pioneer Ralph Lauren, Finkelstein explores this previously unidentified phenomenon—and shows how each of us can emulate their best tactics to create our own powerful networks of extraordinary talent.

—Compiled by Christy Hinko

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