This time of year, entrepreneurs looking to feed their brains with a good book won't be short of ideas. Between end-of-the-year lists and suggestions for filling your shelves (or your e-reader) in the year ahead, recommendations are everywhere you look.
Which can be handy, or bewildering. From "16 Books for 2016" to "10 Books to Read This Fall," you might just be thinking, who has time for all this reading? If your leisure time is limited and you have time for only a few essential reads, what should they be?
The very best business book of the year?
According to the Financial Times and consultancy McKinsey, there's at least one title even the busiest business owners shouldn't miss. They recently crowned Rise of the Robots by entrepreneur Martin Ford the very best business book of the year.
Hugely topical, the book discusses the much debated idea that advances in automation will soon radically affect the labor market. "The book reflects growing anxiety in some quarters about the possible negative impact of automation on jobs, from manufacturing to professional services," explains the FT write-up of the award. This economic reshuffle may require "a fundamental restructuring of our economic rules," according to Ford, who proposes a guaranteed minimum basic income as one possible remedy.
Other books shortlisted for the prize include Losing the Signal by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff, Digital Gold by Nathaniel Popper, How Music Got Free by Stephen Witt, Unfinished Business by Anne-Marie Slaughter, and Misbehaving by Richard Thaler.
Will robots take all our jobs?
The award, which comes with around $45,000 in prize money, is a strong recommendation for Ford's book, but even if you decide not to pick it up, the judges' decision may interest you. Their choice highlights just how intense the discussion has become about the effect advances in automation will have on us, and suggests that every business owner could probably benefit from familiarizing him- or herself with at least the basics of the debate.
We've covered the idea here on Inc.com before, including write-ups of research on how fast robots are replacing jobs and in which sectors and an investigation into all the incredible things robots are capable of doing these days. Or, if you're looking for a more in-depth introduction to the topic, have a quick watch of the BBC debate below.
The proposition is "Be afraid, be very afraid: The robots are coming and they will destroy our livelihoods." The speakers are Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson, entrepreneurs Pippa Malmgren and Andrew Keen, and economist George Magnus. It's a good introduction to the views of both technological optimists and pessimists.