Article: Here are the best books on ‘people and work’ in 2019

Sports, Books & Movies

Here are the best books on ‘people and work’ in 2019

Josh Bersin, David Green, Abhijit Bhaduri share the best books they read in 2019.
Here are the best books on ‘people and work’ in 2019

As we step into a new decade in the world of work, People Matters reached out to leading experts from the world of ‘people and work’ to gather recommendations on some of the most impactful books they read in 2019. 

The end list was a mix of new and exciting books as well as classics that were re-read. This year, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein was recommended by two of the experts on the list. Another book that was recommended by two experts was "Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life", a book by Albert Liebermann and Hector Garcia, which was also recommeded in our 2018 best books list. 

 Here's the complete list.

Josh Bersin, Global Industry Analyst and Dean, Josh Bersin Academy 


Range:  Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, by David Epstein.

“This book describes, through research, the real way people develop in their career – and why people need a broad range of experiences to succeed. It also explains the concepts of “growth mindset” by studying the careers of highly successful people (in business, sports, media) and how they spend a lot of time “sampling” different jobs before they focus and succeed greatly. This book will teach you about hiring, development, succession management, talent mobility, leadership assessment, and of course give you lots of insights into L&D.” Josh said.

David Green, Executive Director at Insight222 and former Global Director of People Analytics Solutions at IBM Watson Talent

Dying for a Paycheck by Jeffrey Pfeffer

“My book of the year is Jeffrey Pfeffer's Dying for a Paycheck. It provides a damning indictment on how modern management practices engender stress, damage engagement and the physical and mental health of employees as well as providing evidence of how this impacts company performance too.

If we have one role in HR, it is to look after the wellbeing of our workforce and prove via data that not only is this the right thing to do but that it makes business sense too,” he said.

Sajid Iqbal, GE Transportation HR Leader for APAC Region (now Wabtec’s HR Leader for International Freight)

The Five dysfunctions of a Team by Lencioni 

“Most organizations when they scale up have inherent challenges of large teams working in silos, this book provides a model on how to deal with these dysfunctions,” he said.

Chinam Kry, Vice President, Solution and Customer Marketing, Oracle

"I enjoyed reading "The Power of Human: How Our Shared Humanity Can Help Us Create a Better World" by Adam Waytz. It's a nice read on the importance of humanity in the digital age. All of us in tech need to help rehumanize the world around us," Chinam said.

Abhijit Bhaduri, Keynote speaker, Author and Columnist and Host of the podcast ‘Dreamers and Unicorns’.


Range:  Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, by David Epstein.

“The best book I read in 2019 would have to be Range by David Epstein. Careers used to be like a straight eight-lane highway. You could choose one of the eight careers - doctor/engineer/lawyer etc and you could cruise along. Then there are fields like robot ethicist, drone pilot, Alexa Personality designer -  that are complex and unpredictable—generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel. These are jobs that have not existed before like most of the new career paths that are coming up. 

David Epstein's book Range tells us in these settings, a Generalist is the one who will excel. Generalists often find their path late, and they juggle many interests rather than focusing on one. The future belongs to people who are creative, quick learners, and able to make connections their more specialized peers can’t see.”

Armaan Seth, Head of Human Resources, Indian Sub-continent at Philips


Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life

“I would strongly recommend Ikigai. I read the book recently and was quite inspired by it. It talks about a Japanese concept to find happiness in what you do. It made me pause and reflect about how we get sucked into too many things,” he said.

T. N Hari, Head of HR at Big Basket 


Loonshots by Safi Bahcal

“This is truly a ground breaking book. In this book Safi Bahcal, a physicist and a biotech entrepreneur, describes lucidly what it takes to nurture and commercialize radical innovation. The best line in the book: “The most important breakthroughs are surprisingly fragile. They pass through long dark tunnels of scepticism and uncertainty, crushed or neglected, their champions often dismissed as crazy"” Hari said.

The Square Root of a Sonnet by Nilanjan Choudhury

“The book is a celebration of the achievements of an Indian scientist and is based on the lives of two of the greatest giants in astrophysics, Chandrasekhar and Arthur Eddington. It portrays the story of a complicated friendship, betrayal and large ideas. Every science lover must read it,” Hari said.

Apart from the above two books, Hari also recommended Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely, The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and The Entrepreneur's Soulbook by Swati Jena.

Viji Hari, PoSH & Diversity consultant; CEO & Co Founder at KELP HR Services Pvt Ltd


Lean In - Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

"This year - I loved reading or rather listening on Audible - 1. Ikigai - an essential life skill stressing on the importance of lifestyle and the sense of purpose in living, a must read for all.  2. Lean In - a must read for all career women on how to aspire and reach leadership positions, 3. How to win Friends and influence People by Dale Carnegie which teaches the importance of communication in our day to day life, the impact of right and powerful communication," Viji said.

We hope this curation of suggestions will help you navigate the new world of work - which is increasingly becoming more fluid and complex.

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Topics: Sports, Books & Movies, #Rewind2019

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