Six Books Worth Reading This Summer

Six Books Worth Reading This Summer

The FINANCIAL -- Summer is now upon us — and if you’re like me, you’ve given up on ever getting to the end of “The Social Life of Numbers” and are looking for an alternative.

What to read? It depends on the situation:

If you’re at the airport and have only five minutes before you have to board your plane, dash to the bookstore and pick up “Rebel Talent.” There, my Harvard Business School colleague Francesca Gino explores how — and when — bucking convention can enhance both our productivity and personal fulfillment. Her tour of Michelin star restaurants, animation studios and even airplanes will have you ready to break all sorts of rules by the end of your flight, according to HBS.

If you’re still hoping to write (or rewrite or re-rewrite) that article, novella or column by summer’s end, check out “Draft No. 4.” There, Pulitzer Prize-winning nonfiction guru John McPhee meditates on and invigorates the writing process. He also gives away some secrets of the trade. 

Or if you’d rather spend the summer completely rethinking capitalism, “Radical Markets” might be your cup of tea. There, Eric Posner and Glen Weyl argue against private property — and for treating the data we generate on the internet and elsewhere as akin to labor. But unlike other accounts seeking to uproot capitalism, the logic here comes not from a desire to constrain markets, but rather to make them more all-encompassing, according to HBS.

If Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk’s killer-robot debate has you scared about the future impact of artificial intelligence, turn to “Prediction Machines.”

There, Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans and Avi Goldfarb give a clear-headed, less scary account: AI’s biggest influence on business may be its ability to improve predictions about everything from heart rates to how price changes will affect sales. And by helping us make informed decisions, that will actually increase the value of human judgment.

If you foresee awkward encounters with friends, family or former confidants you haven’t talked to in a while, try Melissa Dahl’s “Cringeworthy.” This tour of the uncomfortable corners of our lives and psychology will indeed make you cringe at points. But it will also free you from fear by showing how to transform even the most “awkward turtle” moments into a form of strength.

And for those twilight nights in midsummer, pick up Wilkie Collins’s masterpiece “The Moonstone.” Credited by many as the world’s first detective novel, this tale of love, intrigue and betrayal is so vivid that it feels almost like a waking dream.