When it comes to making a financial investment, you look for the opportunity that's going to yield the greatest return in the shortest time. The same is true of books.

Sometimes we read to exercise our empathy, sometimes to find the solution to a particular problem, and sometimes just to pass the time when we're on a beach or a train. But if you're goal is to hone your brain with a good book, what you want is the title that will teach you the most with the quickest, most enjoyable read.

If that's your aim, star Wharton professor, WorkLife podcast host, and bestselling author Adam Grant has a few suggestions for you. In partnership with Scribd, Grant recently pulled together a short list of must-read titles for business people that offer truly big ideas in an easy-to-digest package.

"My favorite books about work life have four things in common: they challenge conventional wisdom, they're evidence-based, they're riveting reads, and they're actionable," Grant wrote in an email, explaining why these specific titles made the cut. 

1. When by Daniel Pink

This new release also made Grant's list of upcoming books everyone will soon be talking about. Why? "Everything important depends on timing, but in a sea of how-to books there's almost nothing on when-to," Grant notes. "In this actionable and enthralling read, Dan tackles the ideal times to do creative vs. analytical work, take a nappuccino, quit your job, and go first vs. last in a job interview." (Yes, you heard that right, there is such a thing as a nappucino, and it sounds fabulous).

2. The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle

"Whereas many authors report from the sidelines, Dan gets in the arena with the Spurs, Pixar, and the Navy SEALs to demystify the magic of great groups. He shows that most of us try to build trust backward and focus on the shallow fun of ping-pong tables instead of the deep fun of hard problems," explains Grant of this pick.

3. Quiet by Susan Cain

A must-read for all of us quieter types, as well as all those organizations that want to recruit them and help them do their best work. "This beautiful book shatters the myth of the extroverted ideal and highlights the essential role of introverts in the world of work. It's full of wisdom about how to lead quietly, build more supportive cultures, and harness individual reflection for creativity," says Grant.

4. Switch by Chip and Dan Heath

The third Dan on the list, along with his brother Heath this Dan writes about one of the most vexing but inescapable aspects of life: change. "Change might be the toughest hurdle in our work and our lives, and this book has the tools for scaling it," claims Grant. "I've watched many leaders follow their guidance to motivate the elephant by shrinking the change, direct the rider to follow the bright spots, and shape the path by rallying the herd."

Published on: Apr 3, 2018