End-of-Year Books to Read ASAP

Our experts have queued up a special holiday book list for your year-end vacation.

It’s holiday season, which means that work emails will slow down for a couple of weeks, providing actual time to sit down and read a book. Korn Ferry partners are avid readers, so we asked them for their recommendations to close out a busy year. In this unpredictable time, most chose tried-and-true standbys. 

Here are the nine titles that our partners are advising leaders to enjoy this holiday season. 

The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why it Matters

By Priya Parker (2018)

Read this one before the holiday guests arrive. “Parker’s human-centered approach to bringing people together challenged my thinking of traditional gatherings, and has ignited every gathering that I’ve created since,” says Miriam Nelson, senior client partner in the Assessment and Succession Solutions practice at Korn Ferry. “It will help you cook up thoughtful, meaningful, and memorable gatherings.” 

Where Have All the Leaders Gone

By Lee Iacocca (2007)

You can thank Iacocca for the minivan, as well as this shrewd look at the role of leadership in corporate and political America. “I am always fascinated by the books of predominant leaders who led in our lifetimes,” says Jacob Zabkowicz, vice president and general manager for global RPO at Korn Ferry. “Iacocca turned Chrysler around, and his unique leadership insights are the key to how that happened.” 

Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story

By Bono (2022)

Who knew that Bono had a good book in him? Let alone one that teaches humility and perspective? “Bono is an amazing writer,” says Radhika Papandreou, sector leader for the Travel, Hospitality and Leisure practice at Korn Ferry. “His ability to lead and stay relevant for over four decades across the entertainment and charity industries is unparalleled. What an inspiration!”

Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results

By Judith Glaser (2013)

This deep dive into the neuroscience of leadership illuminates the many ways that communication impacts engagement and the people around us. “It was an important book for me,” says Jane Stevenson, vice chair of the Board and CEO Services practice at Korn Ferry. “It helped me realize the ways that I can elevate capabilities, or inadvertently shut them down.”

Build: An Unorthodox Guide to Making Things Worth Making

By Tony Fadell (2022)

Fadell led teams that created the iPod, iPhone, and Nest Learning Thermostat, and funneled his strategies into a book. “He learned enough in thirty-plus years in Silicon Valley to fill an encyclopedia about leadership, design, startups, decision-making, mentorship, unbelievable success, and devastating failure,” says Deepali Vyas, global head of Fintech, Payments and Crypto practice at Korn Ferry.

The Grapes of Wrath

By John Steinbeck (1939)

It’s even better when your high school English teacher isn’t involved. The Pulitzer-winning novel traces the lives of a family of tenant farmers amid socioeconomic changes that might ring familiar. “I picked this up because of the monumental upheaval in the economy and social patterns brought about by uncontrollable circumstances,” says David Vied, global sector leader for medical devices and diagnostics at Korn Ferry. 

A Short History of Nearly Everything

By Bill Bryson (2003)

At face value, this oldie but goodie is a rollicking exploration of science, scientists, and their discoveries. “It is also instructive to consider the discovery process—the series of interconnected, unplanned, and sometimes random things that can influence advancement,” says James Bywater, senior client partner at Korn Ferry. “There are lessons for all of us in the diverse sources of inspiration and the unexpected people that made discoveries.”

Man’s Search for Meaning

By Viktor Frankl (1946)

A vivid account of Frankl’s experience as a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp. “It focuses on love, hope, responsibility, inner freedom, and the beauty to be found in both nature and art to help one endure and overcome harrowing experiences,” says Seth Steinberg, senior client partner at Korn Ferry. He has memorized the line that has most impacted his life: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Take Control: The Career You Want, Where You Want

By Gary Burnison (2022)

Last but not least, many workers will be thinking over the holidays about their next career steps. Our own CEO has a handy contribution, just released a few weeks ago. It helps you identify the career you want, the organization where you want to pursue it, and the way to succeed. His guide to authentic career success is practical and inspiring.