Books That Changed My Mind This Year: CEO Selections

Books CEO selection

Books That Changed My Mind This Year: CEO Selections

Fortune asked 16 business leaders to write about their favorite titles.

A good book will make you think; a really good book will change the way you do it. Fortune asked 16 CEOs, luminaries, and rising stars to name the one book they read this year that altered their perspective on life or business. Here are their picks for the most mind-bending and most useful reads out there today.

1. The Road to Character, David Brooks

The Road to Character

Photograph by Brian Henn

Beyond provoking valuable self-reflection and introspection, it sparked a wonderful discussion with my two daughters about why building inner character is just as important as building a career. In fact, the two go hand in hand—the moral compass of our lives must also be the moral compass of our livelihoods.

—Reviewed by Indra Nooyi, CEO, PepsiCo

2. Three Nights in August: Strategy, Heartbreak, and Joy Inside the Mind of a Manager, Buzz Bissinger

3 Nights in August

Photograph by Brian Henn

As a CEO, I have often thought about the balance of trusting data vs. gut in decision-making. I claim to be data-oriented, but in the moment, I often rely on my understanding of human nature. As I read about Tony La Russa’s maniacal focus on baseball’s mass of statistics, coupled with this nuanced understanding of his players and opponents, it was obvious that neither is enough on its own: The leader who truly understands the numbers will make the best gut decisions.

—Reviewed by Sam Yagan, CEO, IAC’s Match Group

3. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol S. Dweck

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Photograph by Brian Henn

My children’s school recommended that we read Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. The book has a lot of great information that is as applicable to managers at high growth companies as it is to parents. The key takeaway for me is that highly capable people tend to be risk-avoiders because they are afraid of failure. They get so used to being praised for their achievements that they end up not pushing themselves to their full potential for fear of looking dumb. As a parent (or a manager), the book recommends praising effort, not accomplishment, and creating an environment that encourages risk-taking and celebrates failure. This is a concept that really resonates with me, not only as a part of my parenting style, but in the way I lead at Zillow Group. Our core values as a company encourage employees to take big swings, with the understanding that they won’t all work out. It’s how we’ve achieved our current success, and it’s what motivates our employees.

—Reviewed by Spencer Rascoff, CEO, Zillow Group

4. Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China, Evan Osnos

Age of Ambition

A standout for me this year was Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China, by Evan Osnos. Osnos spent eight years in China as a foreign correspondent, and his book helped me gain insight into today’s China through stories of people, some well-known and others ordinary.

—Reviewed by Dr. Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO, Gates Foundation

5. The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings, Philip Zaleski and Carol Zaleski

The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings

Photograph by Brian Henn

I have always admired and enjoyed the writings and speeches of C. S. Lewis, the brilliant Christian apologist. Lewis’s ideas, like his carefully constructed sentences seem so fully formed from within. But my interest in Lewis got deeper and broader as I read The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings. The intertwining of Lewis’s work with his relationships with mythmaker J. R. R. Tolkien and literary lions Owen Barfield and Charles Williams cast Lewis in a new and fascinating light. The story reminds us all that the fount of ideas in a great university is as much about conversations as it is about one’s original thoughts.

—Reviewed by Glenn Hubbard, Dean of Columbia Business School, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers

6. The Martian, Andy Weir

The Martian

Photograph by Brian Henn

This book didn’t really change my mind, but rather reinforced the concept of the power of the individual. At a time when we depend more and more on big institutions to solve our business and social problems the real solutions are crafted by individual actions and initiative. This is true in the business world, where ideas from individual researchers or entrepreneurs can create mega companies overnight, and in the social sector, where such actions as high performing charter schools run circles around a moribund K-12 education system. Best we all remember that the next meaningful advances will come from individual initiative rather than massive governmental programs. After all, Google, Facebook, Uber, microloans and countless other success stories were not products of big government.

—Reviewed by Craig Barrett, former CEO of Intel

7. The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor

The Happiness Advantage

This book opened an ongoing conversation on our team around the relationship between employee happiness and productivity. Achor overturns the conventional belief that happiness is a natural outcome of success. Through practical research, experiences and anecdotes, he illustrates that happiness that will actually lead you to success. Happy people tend to work harder, collaborate better and be more productive. This in turn leads to better results. SoulCycle is and always has been an inherently positive experience and one of the things Achor’s book validated for us is that a meaningful commitment to employee well-being is a huge part of why we’re successful. We’ve integrated the book as a resource for our entire organization.

—Reviewed by Melanie Whelan, CEO, SoulCycle

8. Man’s Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl

Man’s Search for Meaning

Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl made a profound impact on me. Frankl, a psychologist, spent years in the Nazi concentration camps under barbaric conditions. Yet he was somehow able to convert and channel his own suffering into improving the lives of others with his work after the war.

Reading his story was an inspiration—a lesson and a deep and poignant message that if you can find the strength (and awareness) to attach meaning to your own suffering it can make it a little more bearable. And a further reminder as to how lucky we are to live in a free Western World. It tells us what it means to live with dignity, valuing freedom and our common humanity in spite of being subjected to unspeakable savagery.

—Reviewed by George Logothetis, CEO, Libra Group

9. Sorrows of the Moon: A Journey Through London, Iqbal Ahmed

Sorrows of the Moon: A Journey Through London

Photograph by Brian Henn

Sorrows of the Moon: A Journey Through London, by Iqbal Ahmed, is a collection of the author’s observations about immigrant communities in London, usually focusing on an individual or two in those communities—how they live their lives, how they have settled into the rhythm of London, how they stay connected to the places they came from. It is a beautifully written book, but more than that, it is an excellent reminder of the amazing depth of people. Unless we pause long enough to listen, we seldom hear the compelling stories of the people we meet. For example, this author is a concierge in our Regents Park Marriott in London. Reading the book caused me to pause and listen. I will be forever grateful that I did.

—Reviewed by Arne Sorenson, CEO, Marriott International

10. Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010, Charles A. Murray

Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010

Murray made me realize that in thinking about the growth in inequality in recent decades, we need to think about more than just the economic forces at work. Sociological trends, such as differences in marriage patterns, may be just as important in explaining why the gap between the haves and the have-nots has grown so large.

—Reviewed by Greg Mankiw, Harvard professor and former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers

11. The Road to Character, David Brooks

A married couple in their 80s, whom I have known for 32 years and dearly love and respect, gave the book to me this year for my birthday. They demanded I read it and then join them for dinner to discuss it. It opened my mind and made me think about how I live my life. David’s book elaborates on the concept of “Adam I” and “Adam II.” Adam I wants high status and external achievement, Adam II wants to do good and also be good. Our culture today is all Adam I. I left P&G seven years ago, after a 25-year career, to start a small business to help people in business discover their purpose and grow. David’s book helped me see more clearly why I did that, and inspired me with wonderful stories that set a thoughtful standard for a life of character.

—Reviewed by Jim Stengel, business author, former CMO of P&G

12. The Man Without Qualities, Robert Musil

The Man Without Qualities

Musil’s book is about many different things. The difference between Germany and Austria, Idealism and pragmatism, for example. But for me there was one huge takeaway: It explains why the lives of humans can only be partially studied in natural science. Counting people and their response to questions is less efficient than reading our poetry and listening to music if you want to understand the world we live in. When he writes “It was a fine spring day in Vienna,” we understand exactly and in great detail what that feels like. You can measure temperature, pressure and wind as much as you like, but sometimes science only muddies are understanding of each other.

—Reviewed by Christian Madsbjerg, founding partner, ReD Associates

13. The Centrist Manifesto, Charles Wheelan

The Centrist Manifesto

Photograph by Brian Henn

The performance of the US economy is weaker than we have experienced in generations, in terms of jobs, wages and economic opportunity for the average citizen. This reflects a structural decline in US competitiveness, in well known problem areas such as education, workforce skills, infrastructure, corporate taxes, health care costs, regulatory costs, and an unsustainable budget. Yet the US has failed to make meaningful progress in any of these areas for a decade or more. Instead, our nation’s economic strategy has degenerated to monetary stimulus.

At this moment in our history, I have come to believe that politics has become the fundamental constraint holding back the U.S. economy and our ability to bridge the many divisions we face. Neither political party delivered the leadership and solutions orientation necessary to address America’s problems. The public is frustrated. No matter who is the next president, we need a Congress that can compromise and get things done.

The Centrist Manifesto has helped me understand the ‎root causes of political gridlock and why it has only gotten worse. The book also puts forth a bold new idea for how to change this, that can work even as soon as 2016.

—Reviewed by Michael Porter, Harvard Business School professor

14. Straight From the Gut, Jack Welch

Straight From the Gut

I read Jack Welch’s book back in 2003 and it was at the time a great source of inspiration. There were a couple of things that got stuck in my mind and in some cases changed my mind: that there are no shortcuts, that facts always must be faced no matter how brutal and that loosing or failing had a value as long as your learn from them. His thoughts on how crucial the soft values are, inspired me a lot. It is really a genuine focus on people and mindset, or call it culture, that makes an organization excel in the long run.

—Reviewed by Annika Falkengren, President and CEO, SEB Group

15. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Photograph by Brian Henn

I read The New Jim Crow, a study of how the U.S. justice system disproportionately criminalizes and jails blacks and Latinos. Making our criminal justice system fairer and more effective is a huge challenge for our country. I’m going to keep learning about this topic, but some things are already clear: We can’t jail our way to a just society, and our current system isn’t working (adapted with permission from Facebook’s A Year of Books project).

—Reviewed by Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook

16. Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman

Thinking, Fast and Slow

Photograph by Brian Henn

This book is amazing—it didn’t change my mind, so much as it has changed the way I think. It helps to understand the difference between the way you make quick decisions, versus considered decisions—it takes different mechanisms in the brain. Understanding which you’re doing at any given time can have a profound impact on what you ultimately decide.

—Reviewed by John Lilly, investment partner, Greylock Partners

Fortune

Books That Changed My Mind This Year: CEO Selections

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100 Notable Books of 2014

The year’s notable fiction, poetry and nonfiction, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review.

ALL OUR NAMES. By Dinaw Mengestu. (Knopf, $25.95.) With great sadness and much hard truth, Mengestu’s novel looks at a relationship of shared dependencies between a Midwestern social worker and a bereft African immigrant.

ALL THE BIRDS, SINGING. By Evie Wyld. (Pantheon, $24.95.) Wyld’s emotionally wrenching novel traces a solitary sheep farmer’s attempt to outrun her past on a remote British island.

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE. By Anthony Doerr. (Scribner, $27.) The paths of a blind French girl and an orphaned German boy converge in this novel, set around the time of World War II.

AMERICAN INNOVATIONS. By Rivka Galchen. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $24.) Most of these stories offer variations on a particular sort of woman: in her 30s, urban, emotionally adrift.

THE ASSASSINATION OF MARGARET THATCHER: Stories. By Hilary Mantel. (John Macrae/Holt, $27.) One has the sense that Mantel is working with some complex private material in these suavely stylish, vastly entertaining contemporary fables.

THE BALLAD OF A SMALL PLAYER. By Lawrence Osborne. (Hogarth, $25.) In Osborne’s feverish novel, the playing is done on the gambling tables of Macau by a tortured embezzler on the run.

BARK: Stories. By Lorrie Moore. (Knopf, $24.95.) The uncrowded format of Moore’s first collection in 16 years allows each story the chance it deserves for leisurely appreciation, and lets the reader savor just what makes her work unique.

THE BLAZING WORLD. By Siri Hust­vedt. (Simon & Schuster, $26.) Hustvedt’s multifaceted novel is a portrait of a creative titan whose career and reputation have seemingly been blighted by the art establishment’s ingrained sexism.

THE BONE CLOCKS. By David Mitchell. (Random House, $30.) In this latest head-­spinning flight into other dimensions from the author of “Cloud Atlas,” all borders between pubby England and the machinations of the undead begin to blur.

THE BOOK OF STRANGE NEW THINGS. By Michel Faber. (Hogarth, $28.) Faber is a master of the weird; in his defiantly unclassifiable novel, a pastor from Earth is picked to satisfy an alien planet’s mysterious yen for religious instruction.

THE BOOK OF UNKNOWN AMERICANS. By Cristina Henríquez. (Knopf, $24.95.) Latino immigrant characters face the challenges of assimilation.

BOY, SNOW, BIRD. By Helen Oyeyemi. (Riverhead, $27.95.) Taking “Snow White” as a cultural touchstone, Oyeyemi’s novel offers up a cautionary tale on post-race ideology, racial limbos and the politics of passing.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF SEVEN KILLINGS. By Marlon James. (Riverhead, $28.95.) Revolving around the assassination attempt on Bob Marley in 1976, this mesmerizingly powerful novel addresses politics, class, race and violence in ­Jamaica.

CAN’T AND WON’T. By Lydia Davis. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26.) In Davis’s stories, the mundane and the fathomless appear together on the same street, and calamity is always close at hand.

THE COLD SONG. By Linn Ullmann. Translated by Barbara J. Haveland. (Other Press, paper, $15.95.) Ullmann’s novel of a guilt-ridden Norwegian family is set in motion by a nanny’s murder.

COLORLESS TSUKURU TAZAKI AND HIS YEARS OF PILGRIMAGE. By Haruki Murakami. Translated by Philip Gabriel. (Knopf, $25.95.) A novel of a man’s traumatic entrance into adulthood and the shadowy passages he must then ­negotiate.

DEPT. OF SPECULATION. By Jenny Offill. (Knopf, $22.95.) Building its story from fragments, observations, meditations and different points of view, Offill’s cannily paced second novel charts the course of a marriage.

THE DOG. By Joseph O’Neill. (Pantheon, $25.95.) In O’Neill’s disturbing, elegant novel, his first since “Netherland,” a lost and tormented New York lawyer recognizes more darkness within himself than in the iniquitous place he works, Dubai.

EUPHORIA. By Lily King. (Atlantic Monthly, $25.) King’s novel turns an episode in the life of Margaret Mead into a taut tale of competing egos and desires in a landscape of exotic menace.

EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU. By Celeste Ng. (Penguin Press, $26.95.) In this novel, a tragedy tears away at a mixed-race family in 1970s Ohio.

F. By Daniel Kehlmann. Translated by Carol Brown Janeway. (Pantheon, $25.95.) Deserted by their enigmatic father, three brothers struggle with life in Kehlmann’s sly tragicomedy.

FAITHFUL AND VIRTUOUS NIGHT. By Louise Glück. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $23.) The poet’s latest collection responds with high art and startling presence to the vantage offered by mortality.

FAMILY LIFE. By Akhil Sharma. (Norton, $23.95.) Sharma’s novel, deeply unnerving and tender at the core, charts a young man’s struggles to grow within a family shattered by tragedy and disoriented by its move from India.

FOURTH OF JULY CREEK. By Smith Henderson. (Ecco/HarperCollins, $26.99.) In Henderson’s impressive novel, an overburdened social worker becomes involved with a near-feral boy and his survivalist father in 1980 Montana.

A GIRL IS A HALF-FORMED THING. By Eimear McBride. (Coffee House Press, $24.) An Irish writer’s odd, energetic first novel.

I PITY THE POOR IMMIGRANT. By Zachary Lazar. (Little, Brown, $25.) Lazar’s brilliant novel of spiritual discovery features Meyer Lansky, an American journalist and an Israeli poet’s murder.

THE LAUGHING MONSTERS. By Denis Johnson. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25.) Johnson’s cheerfully nihilistic novel about two scammers and rogue spies in Africa derives much of its situation from several of his early journalistic pieces.

LENA FINKLE’S MAGIC BARREL. Written and illustrated by Anya Ulinich. (Penguin, paper, $17.) Ulinich’s graphic novel traces the marital and romantic adventures of her immigrant heroine.

LET ME BE FRANK WITH YOU: A Frank Bascombe Book. By Richard Ford. (Ecco/Harper­Collins, $27.99.) In four linked stories, Ford’s aging Everyman surveys life after Hurricane Sandy batters New ­Jersey.

LILA. By Marilynne Robinson. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26.) A young woman with a past of hardship and suffering makes a new start in Robinson’s fictional town of Gilead, Iowa.

LOVERS AT THE CHAMELEON CLUB, PARIS 1932. By Francine Prose. (Harper, $26.99.) Prose, a subtle psychologist, has created a genuinely evil character in Lou Villars, a cross-dressing French racecar driver and Nazi collaborator.

THE MAGICIAN’S LAND. By Lev Grossman. (Viking, $27.95.) In the strong final installment of a trilogy, an exiled magician attempts a risky heist.

THE MOOR’S ACCOUNT. By Laila La­lami. (Pantheon, $26.95.) Estebanico, the first black explorer of America, narrates this fictional memoir.

MOTHERLAND FATHERLAND HOMELANDSEXUALS. By Patricia Lockwood. (Penguin Poets, paper, $20.) Lockwood offers a collection at once angrier, and more fun, more attuned to our time and more bizarre, than most poetry can ever get.

MY STRUGGLE. Book 3: Boyhood. By Karl Ove Knausgaard. Translated by Don Bartlett. ­(Archipelago, $27.) The third installment of Knausgaard’s Proustian six-volume autobiographical novel.

THE NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH. By Richard Flanagan. (Knopf, $26.95.) A frail humanity survives the unspeakable in this novel of the Burma-­Thailand Railway of World War II.

NORA WEBSTER. By Colm Toibin. (Scribner, $27.) In Toibin’s luminous, elliptical novel, set in the late 1960s and early ’70s, an Irishwoman struggles toward independence after her husband’s unexpected death.

PANIC IN A SUITCASE. By Yelena Akhtiorskaya. (Riverhead, $27.95.) As a Ukrainian family adapts to life in Brooklyn, old-country memories linger.

THE PAYING GUESTS. By Sarah Waters. (Riverhead, $28.95.) Hard times, forbidden love, murder and justice are the themes of this nevertheless comic novel, set in London after World War I.

THE POETRY OF DEREK WALCOTT 1948-2013. Selected by Glyn Maxwell. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $40.) Stroke by patient stroke, the poems in this largehearted and essential selection from Walcott, now 84, are the work of a painterly hand.

REDEPLOYMENT. By Phil Klay. (Penguin Press, $26.95.) Twelve stories by a former Marine who served in Iraq capture on an intimate scale the ways in which the war there evoked a unique array of emotion, predicament and heartbreak.

REMEMBER ME LIKE THIS. By Bret Anthony Johnston. (Random House, $26.) In Johnston’s skillful and enthralling debut novel, a family is reunited after an abducted son comes home.

A REPLACEMENT LIFE. By Boris Fishman. (Harper, $25.99.) In Fishman’s bold, ambitious and wickedly smart first novel, a Soviet émigré writer in New York becomes disturbingly adept at forging applications for Holocaust reparations.

SONG OF THE SHANK. By Jeffery Renard Allen. (Graywolf, paper, $18.) Allen’s masterly novel blends the personal story of the enslaved autistic piano prodigy Thomas Wiggins with the history of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

10:04. By Ben Lerner. (Faber & Faber, $25.) A Brooklyn-based narrator preoccupied with identity decides to help his best friend have a child in this frequently brilliant second novel.

THIRTY GIRLS. By Susan Minot. (Knopf, $26.95.) Minot’s novel approaches the atrocities wrought by a murderous African rebel army with candor yet without sensationalism.

THOSE WHO LEAVE AND THOSE WHO STAY: Book 3, The Neapolitan Novels: “Middle Time.” By Elena Ferrante. Translated by Ann Goldstein. (Europa Editions, paper, $18.) The third novel in Ferrante’s series, which tracks a long and complicated friendship.

THE WALLCREEPER. By Nell Zink. (Dorothy, a Publishing Project, paper, $16.) Zink’s heady, rambunctious debut is an environmental novel, if a totally surprising and irreverent one.

WE ARE NOT OURSELVES. By Matthew Thomas. (Simon & Schuster, $28.) Thomas’s gorgeous family epic follows three Irish-American generations.

WHEN MYSTICAL CREATURES ATTACK! By Kathleen Founds. (University of Iowa, paper, $16.) This dark, rich little novel in stories shows Founds as a talented moralist of nearly Russian ferocity.

AMERICAN MIRROR: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell. By Deborah Solomon. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $28.) Solomon pays honest respect to Rockwell for his dedication through periods of self-doubt, depression and marital tumult.

BEING MORTAL: Medicine and What Matters in the End. By Atul Gawande. (Metropolitan/Holt, $26.) A meditation on living better with age-related frailty, serious illness and approaching death.

BUILDING A BETTER TEACHER: How Teaching Works (and How to Teach It to Everyone). By Elizabeth Green. (Norton, $27.95.) What emerges here is the gaping chasm between what the best teachers do and how they are evaluated.

CAN’T WE TALK ABOUT SOMETHING MORE PLEASANT? Written and illustrated by Roz Chast. (Bloomsbury, $28.) This scorchingly honest, achingly wistful graphic memoir looks at the last years of Chast’s nonagenarian parents.

CHINA’S SECOND CONTINENT: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in ­Africa. By Howard W. French. (Knopf, $27.95.) French delves into the actual lives of the Chinese who have uprooted themselves to live and work in Africa.

CUBED: A Secret History of the Workplace. By Nikil Saval. (Doubleday, $26.95.) This account of office design and technology since the Civil War offers insights into the changing nature of work.

DEEP DOWN DARK: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free. By Héctor Tobar. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26.) Tobar graphically recounts the quandaries faced by the victims of Chile’s 2010 mine disaster.

DEMON CAMP: A Soldier’s Exorcism. By Jennifer Percy. (Scribner, $26.) Percy’s first book follows an anguished Army veteran who searches for salvation in a Christian exorcism camp.

DUTY: Memoirs of a Secretary at War. By Robert M. Gates. (Knopf, $35.) One of the few Obama administration members who come off well in this frank account — probably one of the best Washington memoirs ever — is Hillary Clinton.

DYING EVERY DAY: Seneca at the Court of Nero. By James Romm. (Knopf, $27.95.) A classicist tries to unravel the enigma of the Stoic philosopher who was the Roman emperor Nero’s adviser.

EICHMANN BEFORE JERUSALEM: The Unexamined Life of a Mass Murderer. By Bettina Stangneth. Translated by Ruth Martin. (Knopf, $35.) The Eichmann of this study is a much more motivated Nazi than in Arendt’s version.

ELEPHANT COMPANY: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II. By Vicki Constantine Croke. (Random House, $28.) A rich portrait of a fascinating Englishman in extraordinary times.

EMBATTLED REBEL: Jefferson Davis as Commander in Chief. By James M. McPherson. (Penguin Press, $32.95.) The Confederate president as “a product of his time and circumstances.”

THE EMPATHY EXAMS: Essays. By Leslie Jamison. (Graywolf, $15.) Considerations of pain, physical and emotional, and how it affects our relationships with one another and with ourselves.

FACTORY MAN: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local — and Helped Save an American Town. By Beth Macy. (Little, Brown, $28.) Macy’s folksy concentration on her local hero makes complex global issues ­understandable.

THE FAME LUNCHES: On Wounded Icons, Money, Sex, the Brontës, and the Importance of Handbags. By Daphne Merkin. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $28.) Forty-six essays that share a similar curiosity about the glittering byproducts of personal pain.

FIRE SHUT UP IN MY BONES: A Memoir. By Charles M. Blow. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27.) The Times Op-Ed columnist describes overcoming his rage at being abused as a child.

FORCING THE SPRING: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality. By Jo Becker. (Penguin Press, $29.95.) A fly-on-the-wall account of the 2013 Supreme Court case that led to the overturn of California’s ban on same-sex marriage.

GANDHI BEFORE INDIA. By Ramachandra Guha. (Knopf, $35.) It was as a young lawyer in South Africa that Gandhi forged the philosophy and strategies later put to such effect in India.

GEEK SUBLIME: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty. By Vikram Chandra. (Graywolf, paper, $16.) With great subtlety and depth, Chandra, who is both a novelist and a programmer, traces the connections between art and technology.

HOTEL FLORIDA: Truth, Love, and Death in the Spanish Civil War. By Amanda Vaill. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $30.) A collective portrait of Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn, and two other couples.

THE HUMAN AGE: The World Shaped by Us. By Diane Ackerman. (Norton, $27.95.) An optimistic survey of the technology and innovations that define our human-dominated epoch.

THE INVISIBLE BRIDGE: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan. By Rick Perlstein. (Simon & Schuster, $37.50.) Engrossing and at times mordantly funny, Perlstein’s book treats the years 1973-76 as a Rosetta stone for American politics today.

THE INVISIBLE FRONT: Love and Loss in an Era of Endless War. By Yochi Dreazen. (Crown, $26.) Dreazen uses one military family’s tragedy to examine the troubling rise of postwar suicides.

THE INVISIBLE HISTORY OF THE HUMAN RACE: How DNA and History Shape Our Identities and Our Futures. By Christine Kenneally. ­(Viking, $27.95.) Kenneally takes a smart and highly entertaining look at the revelations DNA can provide.

JUST MERCY: A Story of Justice and Redemption. By Bryan Stevenson. (Spiegel & Grau, $28.) An activist lawyer’s account of a man wrongfully convicted of murder reads like a call to action.

LIMONOV. By Emmanuel Carrère. Translated by John Lambert. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $30.) Carrère applies his affinity for the big questions to his biography of an uncategorizable Russian writer.

LITTLE FAILURE: A Memoir. By Gary Shteyngart. (Random House, $27.) Shteyngart’s hilarious and touching account of his family’s move from Leningrad to Queens, and his emergence as a writer.

THE MADWOMAN IN THE VOLVO: My Year of Raging Hormones. By Sandra Tsing Loh. (Norton, $25.95.) Loh’s memoir wittily describes her roller-coaster ride through “the change.”

NAPOLEON: A Life. By Andrew Roberts. (Viking, $45.) Roberts brilliantly conveys the sheer energy of this military and organizational whirlwind.

NO GOOD MEN AMONG THE LIVING: America, the Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes. By Anand Gopal. (Metropolitan/Holt, $27.) A devastating look at how we got ­Afghanistan wrong.

NOT I: Memoirs of a German Childhood. By Joachim Fest. Translated by Martin Chalmers. (Other Press, paper, $16.95.) The author’s father’s opposition to Hitler brought his family into danger.

ON IMMUNITY: An Inoculation. By Eula Biss. (Graywolf, $24.) Drawing on science, myth and literature, Biss spellbindingly examines the psychological fog of fear that surrounds immunization today.

ON THE RUN: Fugitive Life in an American City. By Alice Goffman. (University of Chicago, $25.) A young sociologist’s remarkably reported ethnography of a poor black Philadelphia ­neighborhood.

100 ESSAYS I DON’T HAVE TIME TO WRITE: On Umbrellas and Sword Fights, Parades and Dogs, Fire Alarms, Children, and Theater. By Sarah Ruhl. (Faber & Faber, $23.) The playwright on how to be creative when life and children intervene.

THE PARTHENON ENIGMA. By Joan Breton Connelly. (Knopf, $35.) With first-rate scholarship, an archaeologist reinterprets the Parthenon frieze in this exciting and revelatory history.

PAY ANY PRICE: Greed, Power, and Endless War. By James Risen. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28.) The Pulitzer Prize-winning Times reporter chronicles the excesses of the war on terror in this important and powerful book.

PENELOPE FITZGERALD: A Life. By Hermione Lee. (Knopf, $35.) In this delicate portrait, Lee takes on the challenge of an elusive late-bloomer — the great novelist and biographer who published her first book at 58 and became famous at 80.

PRO: Reclaiming Abortion Rights. By Katha Pollitt. (Picador, $25.) In this manifesto, Pollitt argues that women should stop apologizing and reclaim abortion as a “positive social good.”

THE SHORT AND TRAGIC LIFE OF ROBERT PEACE: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League. By Jeff Hobbs. (Scribner, $27.) A heartbreaking journey from a New Jersey ghetto to Yale to a drug-­related murder.

THE SIXTH EXTINCTION: An Unnatural History. By Elizabeth Kolbert. (Holt, $28.) A powerful examination of the role of man-made climate change in causing the current spasm of plant and animal loss that threatens the planet.

A SPY AMONG FRIENDS: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal. By Ben Mac­intyre. (Crown, $27.) This account of the high-level British spymaster who turned out to be a Russian mole reads like John le Carré but is a solidly researched true story.

STUFF MATTERS: Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Shape Our Man-Made World. By Mark Miodownik. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26.) Materials we think banal and boring — paper, concrete, glass, plastic — hold hidden wonders.

THE TEACHER WARS: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession. By Dana Goldstein. (Doubleday, $26.95.) Goldstein offers a lively, personality-driven survey of the public education system, and offers ideas for its reform.

THIRTEEN DAYS IN SEPTEMBER: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David. By Lawrence Wright. (Knopf, $27.95.) How marathon sessions of bare-knuckle diplomacy forged a framework for peace between Israel and Egypt in 1978.

THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING: Capitalism vs. the Climate. By Naomi Klein. (Simon & Schuster, $30.) In her ambitious and consequential analysis, Klein argues there is still time to avoid catastrophe, but not within the current rules of capitalism.

THROWN. By Kerry Howley. (Sarabande, paper, $15.95.) With its sly humor and trenchant vision, this genre-bending work finds sublime poetry in the world of mixed martial arts.

THE TRIP TO ECHO SPRING: On Writers and Drinking. By Olivia Laing. (Picador, $26.) A charming and gusto-driven look at the alcoholic insanity of six famous authors: John Cheever, Tennessee Williams, John Berryman, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Raymond Carver.

THE TRUE AMERICAN: Murder and Mercy in Texas. By Anand Giridharadas. (Norton, $27.95.) Competing visions of the American dream collide in this account of a post-9/11 hate crime and its unlikely ­reverberations.

WORLD ORDER. By Henry Kissinger. (Penguin Press, $36.) Kissinger’s elegant, wide-ranging cri de coeur is a realpolitik warning for future generations from a skeptic steeped in the past.

100 Notable Books of 2014 – NYTimes.com.

Books we will need tomorrow

History has some potent lessons for business, but it is the future that really excites most corporate leaders, entrepreneurs and investors. That is not only because the future offers fresh opportunities to make money, but because it gives the ambitious and talented the chance to write their own new chapter in the lore of management, finance and economics.

Books we will need tomorrow.

Worlds coolest bookstores

Someday there may be a generation of kids who think bookstores are fictional creations found only in novels that come in the mail.

Understandable, since many of the world’s most beautiful independent bookstores have closed in recent years.

Not all of them are facing unhappy endings, however.

The brick-and-mortar survivors — and brave newcomers — have adapted to the Age of Amazon in their own ways, from opening 24 hours to undergoing spectacular design renovations or stocking books that aren’t sold by the online giant.

Old or new, all with fascinating stories, these bookstores serve as historic sites, sanctuaries, salons of culture and must-visit entries in any travel itinerary.

Worlds coolest bookstores – CNN.com.