I'm going to guess that your time is pretty limited, but that doesn't mean you can't strive to learn something and better yourself with a few good books. The key is simply to know what texts are worth their salt and which ones are better as doorstops. To save you some leg work, I turned to Blinkist, which provides "the gist" versions of key points from top reads, all of which are digestible in the neighborhood of 15-30 minutes.

Overall, the category everybody is digging hard into on Blinkist is personal development. And as might come as no surprise, the top book there (and across categories) is Stephen R. Covey's classic, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. But expanding into other categories, the top niches and their corresponding books-in-a-blink on the company's site are

 

  1. Business & Entrepreneurship: Getting Things Done (David Allen)
  2. Personal Development: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People  (Stephen R. Covey)
  3. Career and Success: How to Win Friends & Influence People (Dale Carnegie)
  4. Motivation and Inspiration: Drive (Daniel Pink)
  5. Mindfulness and Happiness: Flow (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi)
  6. Money & Investments: Rich Dad, Poor Dad (Robert T. Kiyosaki)
  7. Productivity & Time Management: The Power of Habit (Charles Duhigg)
  8. Management & Leadership: Creativity, Inc. (Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace)

 

Looking at Blinkist's data a little differently, the top 10 books across the above categories are

  1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Stephen R. Covey)
  2. Getting Things Done (David Allen)
  3. How To Make People Like You In 90 Seconds Or Less (Nicholas Boothman)
  4. How To Win Friends & Influence People (Dale Carnegie)
  5. The Power of Habit (Charles Duhigg)
  6. Emotional Intelligence (Daniel Goleman)
  7. The 4 Hour Work Week (Tim Ferriss)
  8. Flow (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi)
  9. The Miracle Morning (Hal Elrod)
  10. The 80/20 Principle (Richard Koch)

 

Since Blinkist also allows users to highlight passages that are meaningful or interesting to them, we can also get an idea of what the best nuggets from the books are, too.

Robyn Kerkhof, Selection, Publishing and Curation Manager at Blinkist, says the top highlights offer a glimpse into what readers really are prioritizing in terms of personal values. The passages from Getting Things Done and 7 Habits, for example, stress getting what you've got to do into to-do lists and structured projects, which frees the mind for bigger creative and strategic thinking. And the top highlight from How to Win Friends and Influence People shows how important leaders consider empathy to be. The search for 7 Habits further generally shows that people are looking to work smarter, not harder.

 

"We've seen a jump of almost 7 percent over the past year in interest in management and leadership books," Kerkhof adds. "This shows that more people are looking for guidance on how to motivate teams. It's also really telling that the number one book in this management and leadership category is Creativity Inc.; a book that follows the highs and lows of Ed Catmull's personal journey as president at Pixar and Disney and explains how to foster a unique culture of creativity in a team. This speaks to changing cultures in workplaces and shows that inspirational creative leadership is a popular direction for the leaders of tomorrow."

If you'd rather trade a book for a podcast for your commute, make-dinner, cleaning or just-chill-out time, the Blinkist team still has some great recommendations for you.

1. Create Your Own Life

Self-made marketer Jeremy Ryan Slate talks with a huge range of successful individuals to unpack what got them to the top, translating their insights so you can apply it to your own life.

2. Art of Charm

Provides advanced social skills training for entrepreneurs. Learn about human dynamics, relationship and self-improvement from two experienced coaches.

3. How I Built This (Guy Raz)

Dives into the stories of some of the world's best-known companies to reveal how innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists built their movements. Uses motivational narrative infused with applicable lessons for listeners.

4. Unconventional Life (Jules Schroeder)

Inspires you to give yourself permission to create and live the life you want. The concept that little modifications to your routine can result in big change directly translates to entrepreneurial life, since success usually requires being nontraditional and breaking rules.

And if that doesn't satisfy you, throw these onto your playlist, too:

5. Entrepreneurs on Fire (Daily Business Podcast)

6. Start-Up (Gimlet Media)

7. The Tim Ferriss Show

8. Sam Harris: Making Sense & Waking Up

9. 99% Invisible

10. Side Hustle School (Chris Guillebeau)

11. Design Matters (Debbie Millman)

Well? Go on! Get reading and listening!

Published on: Feb 14, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.