These are my elevator pitches for non-fiction books I consistently recommend
This book will change how you think about thinking. It's an in depth explanation by a Nobel Prize winner about how people make decisions. After reading this book I spent the next month trying to convince everyone I knew to read it. It goes into a little too much depth in the first part, which is why many people don't finish it, but it's well worth it. Easily the best book I read in 2013
This book can be summed up by "Make a short list of things people commonly forget to do". Which sounds obvious but it's amazing how much resistance there was initially to this seemingly good idea when applied to surgery. The idea is simple but you won't really appreciate it until you read some of the anecdotes about how drastically it improved outcomes for surgeons and pilots.
Like Checklist Manifesto the premise of this books seems simple. "If you want to make a new habit only make yourself do the smallest action to build it". The primary examples in the book is developing a work out habit by requiring one push up a day and developing a writing habit by requiring 50 words a day and then building from there. It's an easy and helpful read if you want to pick up a new habit.
This was the second best book I read in 2013. It's a brief 130 pages about the trials of trying to make art. But anyone who's ever tried to make something can relate to it. This book isn't 'actionable' unless you read it when you have some sort of creative block, in which case the advice is priceless. It's also eminently quotable and starts with "This book is about making art. Ordinary art. Ordinary art means something like: all art not made by Mozart. After all, art is rarely made by Mozart-like people"
If you want to know how to market, make and ship a product that people actually use read this book. The author has mentioned that some of the specific techniques to figure out market size are now a little out of date. But getting into the mindset of "market > marketing > aesthetic > functionality" makes this book worth it. Especially for developers. Or as the author says "I strongly believe that building something no one wants is the most common source of failure for entrepreneurs."
This is probably the second best known book about software development. I still don't think enough people have read it. Much of the advice in this book is counter intuitive, but backed up by sound reasoning and examples. It has the added benefit of all the advice being fairly practical. A must read if you develop software.
This book is the unspoken rules of the workplace that you may never have learned so are constantly breaking. A lot of reviews of this book have called it cynical, which seems unfair to me. It just takes a clear eyed look at what motivates executives and managers without castigating them. A must read if you work in a place with more than 50 people.
If you've ever wondered how to measure quality or how valuable a measurement even is, this book will give you ways to figure it out. A key thing I learned from this book was if something seems impossible to measure, it's probably not clear why you want to measure it in the first place. Buy the paper edition, not the kindle edition, since it contains lots of tables and figures.