Here Are The 50 Books People Recommended I Read In 2020

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: “I’ve never met a person who’s gone broke buying books before.”

I love reading, because I love learning. So much so it’s baked into Drift’s leadership principles: Be a curious learning machine.

Last month, I offered a list of the five business books I was excited about in 2019.

But, I also wanted to touch base and see what others in the community were reading too.

So at the end of the year, I posted on Twitter and Instagram to see what I should be reading going into 2020.

Below, I’ve done my best to categorize your recommendations into the 50 must-read books for 2020?

Happy Reading ?

The Must-Read Books On Leadership

For leaders, it’s common for us to think in terms of “final products” or “waiting for perfect.” But some of the world’s most successful companies encourage employees to ship and share every day. This has become a common mantra here at Drift, and I owe this type of thinking to authors like James Clear. Here are the other leadership-related titles recommended to me:

  1. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
  2. Lost & Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World by Rand Fishkin
  3. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek
  4. Herding Tigers: Be The Leader That Creative People Need by Todd Henry
  5. The Making of a Manager: What To Do When Everyone Looks To You by Julie Zhuo
  6. It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy At Work by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson   
  7. Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg, and Alan Eagle
  8. What You Do is Who You Are: How to Create Your Business Culture by Ben Horowitz
  9. Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman
  10. Turn The Ship Around by L. David Marquet
  11. An Elegant Puzzle: Systems of Engineering Management by Will Larsen
  12. “Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?: Leading a Great Enterprise Through Dramatic Change” by Louis V. Gerstner Jr.

The Must-Read Books On Business

Competition across product and service categories has exploded. Today, how you position your business and the trust customers have in your brand is everything. The titles in this section touch on how and how NOT to approach business in 2020.

The Cluetrain Manifesto is one I’d recommend to almost anyone. Why? Because it looks at how the dawn of the modern internet has dramatically changed every facet of our culture, how we do business and how people interact with companies. For those of you who have read Drift’s Conversational Marketing book, this is a great follow-up.

  1. The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual by Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger
  2. Obviously Awesome by April Dunford
  3. Get Together: A Book on Building Community by Bailey Richardson, Kevin Huynh, and Kai Elmer Sotto
  4. The Challenge Culture: Why the Most Successful Organizations Run on Pushback by Nigel Travis
  5. How Brands Grow: What Marketers Don’t Know by Byron Sharp
  6. Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou

The Must-Read Books On Empowerment

Navigating workplace hierarchy is a struggle, especially for minorities, marginalized groups, and females. If you fall into any of these categories, these may offer some really helpful insights for you. And for those of you who don’t: I challenge you to pick up these books and enrich your perspective.

The first in this category is The Memo. This connected with me on a deep level because it looks at the challenges faced by both people of color and working women. What commonalities will you find in these stories? How will they change your thinking?

  1. The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table by Minda Harts
  2. How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith
  3. Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy by Angela Garbes
  4. Just the Funny Parts: …And a Few Hard Truths About Sneaking into the Hollywood Boys’ Club by Nell Scovell
  5. Dignity: The Essential Role It Plays in Resolving Conflict by Donna Hicks
  6. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

The Must-Read Books On Personal Development

Skill-building, negotiating, transformative thinking – these are just some of the topics covered in the most extensive category on our list. These books have something for anyone looking to better themselves personally and professionally this year.

Thinking In Bets was one of my favorite books in 2019. Written by professional poker player Annie Duke, the book is perfect for not just leaders like myself who make big decisions everyday, but those who struggle to “think on their feet.”

  1. Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts by Annie Duke
  2. The Copywriter’s Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide To Writing Copy That Sells by Robert W. Bly.
  3. What Do You Do With An Idea by Kobi Yamada (Author) and Mae Besom (Illustrator)
  4. The Third Door: The Wild Quest to Uncover How the World’s Most Successful People Launched Their Careers by Alex Banayan
  5. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  6. Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz
  7. How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence by Michael Pollan
  8. Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins by Mark Schaefer
  9. Bullshit Jobs: A Theory by David Graeber
  10. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
  11. The Algebra of Happiness: Notes on the Pursuit of Success, Love, and Meaning by Scott Galloway
  12. Stillness Is The Key by Ryan Holiday
  13. Super Thinking: The Big Book of Mental Models by Gabriel Weinberg and Lauren McCann
  14. Getting To Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher, William L. Ury, and Bruce Patton
  15. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
  16. Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein

The Must-Read Books For Fantastic Storytelling

Stories define a society. I was so happy to see a mixture of fiction and non-fiction narratives on the list of must-reads. From time-jumping scifi to heart-breaking memoirs to a historical introspective, this category has a diverse range of titles to help you escape your everyday.

Malcolm Gladwell has always been a go-to for me. His approach to non-fiction is masterful. Talking To Strangers offers some of the best insight into his writing process and how others can become more mindful listeners – and learners.

  1. Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know Malcolm Gladwell
  2. Energy and Civilization by Vaclav Smil
  3. Educated by Tara Westover
  4. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
  5. Recursion by Blake Crouch
  6. The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company by Robert Iger
  7. The Nickle Boys by Colson Whitehead
  8. The Outsider by Stephen King
  9. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb
  10. The Surrender Experiment: My Journey into Life’s Perfection by Michael Singer

Want More?

Once you’ve managed to make your way through this extensive list, you might be asking: What’s next?

If you’re a marketer or salesperson, the Drift library is updated every quarter with new titles and topics to hone your skills. You can find all of our books here.