Best reads for HR Professionals from 2013 – By Jess Adair and Stef Scott

whether you’ve started 2014 with some focussed personal objectives you’re determined to achieve, or if you’re still deliberating what your own L&D journey should look like over the coming months, our handpicked selection of literary highlights from 2013 should inspire you along the way. Our Winter Reads selection brings together the best books from the genres of business, fiction and non-fiction. It might be cold outside, but warming up those grey cells to tackle your 2014 L&D challenges will be plain sailing if you have the right bedtime read to motivate you.

Lean In

Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

The debut offering from Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and one of the business world’s most influential women, made quite a splash in 2013 and topped Management Today’s top ten books of the year chart. In Lean In, Sandberg presents her view on what women must do in order to attain real power in the workplace and win key leadership positions. A book that has divided audiences since its publication earlier last year, Lean In is bound to keep people talking well into 2014 and beyond.

Everything Store

The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone

The Everything Store tells the fascinating story of Amazon’s visionary CEO Jeff Bezos and his leadership of the company through its meteoric rise to success. While the book has come in for some criticism – not least from Jeff Bezos’s wife Mackenzie – the Financial Times has given it their stamp of approval by naming it their business book of the year.

Playing to Win

Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works by AG Lafley and Roger Martin

The prestigious annual Thinkers 50 awards celebrate the work of the leadership world’s most prolific and influential figures. Last year, the Thinkers 50 Book Award went to AG Lafley and Roger Martin for Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works.The book, a Wall Street Journal bestseller, outlines the strategic approach that former Procter and Gamble CEO Lafley used, in close partnership with strategic adviser Roger Martin, to double P&G’s sales, quadruple its profits and increase its market value by more than $100 billion.


The Ocean

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The latest offering from the multi award-winning author of Coraline and Stardust is based on a real event from Gaiman’s childhood. The seven year old narrator recalls the aftermath of his parents’ lodger committing suicide, bringing an ancient, mythical monster into his home. His only hope is the three strange women on the farm at the end of his lane, the youngest of whom swears that their pond is really an ocean. A tale that beautifully depicts the innocence, powerlessness and magic of youth, with a genuinely frightening edge, The Ocean at the End of the Lane was named Book of the Year by Hudson Booksellers.


Stoner by John Williams

This surprise international bestseller has earned critical acclaim from literary heavyweights such as Ian McEwan and Julian Barnes. It tells the story of unassuming scholar William Stoner and his struggles in both his career and marriage. Upon its initial publication in 1965, Stoner failed to attract critical acclaim; in fact it went out of print the following year. More than half a century later, however, it is being hailed as a modern masterpiece, and was crowned Waterstones’ Book of the Year at the end of 2013.

The Thing About Luck

The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata

Cynthia Kadohata’s The Thing About Luck won the 2013 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. Aimed at teenagers but with a story that is suitable for everyone, The Thing About Luck is a heartwarming tale of poverty and bad luck, told through the eyes of twelve year old Summer Miyamoto.


The Unwinding

The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America by George Packer

New Yorker staff writer George Packer’s The Unwinding is a book about American history, but with a powerful human element. It looks at the last three decades in America, told from the perspectives of three central real-life characters. It considers the impact of political, economic and social change on the lives of normal people trying to make their way in the world. The Unwinding was awarded the 2013 National Book Award for Non-Fiction.

I Am Malala

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

At the Specsavers National Books Awards, Pakistani school girl Malala Yousafzai’s autobiography I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education won the Magic FM Non-Fiction Book of the Year prize, in conjunction with her co-author, journalist Christina Lamb. Known around the world as the girl who was shot by the Taliban, Malala’s book is a powerful call for equality and equal access to education for women. This year Malala also won the United Nations Human Rights Prize and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Seven Deadly Sins

Seven Deadly Sins by David Walsh

Another notable title is David Walsh’s Seven Deadly Sins, which won the 2013 British Sports Book Award. It takes a fascinating look at the world of professional cycling, and the doping scandal that engulfed Lance Armstrong and the Tour de France, resulting in Armstrong being stripped of his seven victories and leaving his reputation in tatters.


Eat: The Little Book of Fast Food by Nigel Slater

Nigel Slater’s Eat was the top book in the coveted Food and Drink category at the Specsavers National Book Awards. It was also chosen by online retailer Amazon as their best food and drink book of 2013. Eat contains over 600 tasty recipes for simple, quick to prepare meals that will work for weeknight dinners as well as impressing guests.