Every year, the Next Big Idea Club editorial staff reviews hundreds of upcoming books to identify the best nonfiction titles. We start with a broad pool of nominees each season, then share them with our curators—Adam Grant, Susan Cain, Daniel Pink, and Malcolm Gladwell—who identify a small handful of finalists and, ultimately, two official season selections.
Today, we look back on the remarkable titles that our curators hand-picked as season finalists in 2023. If you’re hoping to work a little smarter and live a little better in 2024, start by checking out the 23 groundbreaking books below.
Anatomy of a Breakthrough: How to Get Unstuck When It Matters Most
By Adam Alter
Whether you’re muddling through a midlife crisis, wrestling writer’s block, trapped in a thankless job, or trying to remedy a fraying friendship, Anatomy of a Breakthrough is the roadmap we all need to escape our inertia and flourish in the face of friction. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Adam Alter, in the Next Big Idea App
Attention Span: A Groundbreaking Way to Restore Balance, Happiness and Productivity
By Gloria Mark
It takes 25 minutes to bring our attention back to a task after an interruption—and we interrupt ourselves more than we’re interrupted by others. In Attention Span, a renowned psychologist reveals these and more surprising results from her decades of research into how technology affects our attention. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Gloria Mark, in the Next Big Idea App
Awe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life
By Dacher Keltner
From a leading expert on the science of emotions and consultant to Pixar’s Inside Out comes a groundbreaking and essential exploration into the history and science of awe. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Dacher Keltner, in the Next Big Idea App
The Creative Act: A Way of Being
By Rick Rubin
From legendary music producer Rick Rubin, a master at helping people connect with the wellsprings of their creativity, comes a beautifully crafted book many years in the making that offers that same deep wisdom to all of us. View on Amazon
Enchantment: Awakening Wonder in an Anxious Age
By Katherine May
Blending lyricism and storytelling, sensitivity and empathy, Enchantment invites each of us to open the door to human experience in all its sensual complexity, and to find the beauty waiting for us there. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Katherine May, in the Next Big Idea App
Everyday Utopia: What 2,000 Years of Wild Experiments Can Teach Us About the Good Life
By Kristen Ghodsee
A University of Pennsylvania professor offers a radically hopeful vision for how to build more contented and connected societies, alongside a practical guide to what we all can do in the meantime to live the good life each and every day. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Kristen Ghodsee, in the Next Big Idea App
Fool Proof: How Fear of Playing the Sucker Shapes Our Selves and the Social Order―and What We Can Do About It
By Tess Wilkinson-Ryan
Facing the fear of being suckered head-on means deciding for ourselves what risks to take, what relationships to invest in, when to share, and when to protest—drafting a new template for how to live with integrity in a sucker’s world. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Tess Wilkinson-Ryan, in the Next Big Idea App
The Good Life: Lessons from the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness
By Robert Waldinger and Marc Schulz
What makes for a happy life, a fulfilling life? A good life? According to the directors of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, the longest scientific study of happiness ever conducted, the answer to these questions may be closer than you realize. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by co-authors Robert Waldinger and Marc Schulz, in the Next Big Idea App
How Do We Know Ourselves?: Curiosities and Marvels of the Human Mind
By David Myers
These forty remarkable essays offer fresh insight into our sometimes bewildering but ever-fascinating lives. Subjects range from why we so often fear the wrong things to how simply going for a walk with someone can increase rapport and empathy. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author David Myers, in the Next Big Idea App
Magic Words: What to Say to Get Your Way
By Jonah Berger
A world-renowned marketing expert reveals how mastering a few words can change your life, offering an inside look at the new science of language and how you can use it to motivate, engage, and persuade. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Jonah Berger, in the Next Big Idea App
Master of Change: How to Excel When Everything Is Changing—Including You
By Brad Stulberg
A revelatory book on rethinking change and creating a rugged and flexible mindset amidst life’s intensifying flux, from expert on sustainable excellence, coach, and bestselling author of The Practice of Groundedness. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Brad Stulberg, in the Next Big Idea App
Never Enough: When Achievement Culture Becomes Toxic—And What We Can Do About It
By Jennifer Breheny Wallace
Drawing on interviews with families, educators, and an original survey of nearly 6,000 parents, an award-winning reporter reveals how the pressure for students to perform is not a matter of parental choice, but baked in to our larger society. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Jennifer Breheny Wallace, in the Next Big Idea App
Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity
By Peter Attia
From a visionary physician and leading longevity expert comes a groundbreaking manifesto on living better and longer, one that challenges the conventional medical thinking on aging and reveals a new approach to preventing chronic disease and extending long-term health. Read an excerpt of our podcast episode with author Peter Attia
Pathogenesis: A History of the World in Eight Plagues
By Jonathan Kennedy
Drawing on the latest research in fields ranging from genetics and anthropology to archaeology and economics, Pathogenesis takes us through sixty thousand years of history, exploring eight major outbreaks of infectious disease that have made the modern world. View on Amazon
Paved Paradise: How Parking Explains the World
By Henry Grabar
From a Slate staff writer comes an entertaining, enlightening, and utterly original investigation into one of the most quietly influential forces in modern American life—the humble parking spot. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Henry Grabar, in the Next Big Idea App
The Perennials: The Megatrends Creating a Postgenerational Society
By Mauro F. Guillén
A Wharton professor explores how a new postgenerational workforce known as “perennials”—individuals who are not pitted against each other by age or experience—will level the playing field so that everyone has a chance at living a rewarding life. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Mauro F. Guillén, in the Next Big Idea App
Portable Magic: A History of Books and Their Readers
By Emma Smith
A history of one of humankind’s most resilient and influential technologies over the past millennium—the book. Portable Magic will charm and challenge literature lovers of all kinds as it illuminates the transformative power and eternal appeal of the written word. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Emma Smith, in the Next Big Idea App
Power Failure: The Rise and Fall of an American Icon
By William Cohan
In Power Failure, an acclaimed financial journalist punctures the myth of GE, exploring in a rich narrative how a once-great company wound up broken and in tatters—a cautionary tale for the ages. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author William Cohan, in the Next Big Idea App
Psych: The Story of the Human Mind
By Paul Bloom
Was Freud right that we are all plagued by forbidden sexual desires? What is the function of emotions such as disgust, gratitude, and shame? A renowned psychologist answers these questions and many more in this riveting new book about the science of the mind. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Paul Bloom, in the Next Big Idea App
Right Kind of Wrong: The Science of Failing Well
By Amy Edmondson
A revolutionary guide that will transform your relationship with failure, from a pioneering researcher of psychological safety and award-winning Harvard Business School professor. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Amy Edmondson, in the Next Big Idea App
Selfless: The Social Creation of “You”
By Brian Lowery
We don’t just exist in communities; we are created and shaped by them. By recognizing that we are products of relationships—from fleeting transactions to deep connections—we shatter the myth of individualism and free ourselves to make our lives and the world accordingly. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Brian Lowery, in the Next Big Idea App
Your Brain on Art: How the Arts Transform Us
By Susan Magsamen and Ivy Ross
A life-altering journey through the science of neuroaesthetics, which shows how our brains and bodies transform when we participate in the arts—and how this knowledge can both improve our health and help us build stronger communities. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by co-authors Susan Magsamen and Ivy Ross, in the Next Big Idea App
Your Future Self: How to Make Tomorrow Better Today
By Hal Hershfield
Many of us view the future as incredibly distant, making us more likely to opt for immediate gratification that disregards our health and well-being in the years to come. People who are able to connect with their future selves, however, are better able to balance living for today and planning for tomorrow. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Hal Hershfield, in the Next Big Idea App
The Key Ideas in 15 Minutes
“If you are going to get anywhere in life, you have to read a lot of books,” Roald Dahl once famously said. The only trouble is, reading even one book from cover to cover takes hours—and you may not have many hours to spare.
But imagine for a moment: What if you could read a groundbreaking new book every day? Or even better, what if you could invite a world-renowned thinker into your earbuds, where they personally describe the 5 key takeaways from their work in just 15 minutes?
With the Next Big Idea App, we’ve turned this fantasy into a reality. We partnered with hundreds of acclaimed authors to create “Book Bites,” short audio summaries of the latest nonfiction that are prepared and read aloud by the authors themselves. Discover cutting-edge leadership skills, productivity hacks, the science of happiness and well-being, and much more—all in the time it takes to drive to work or walk the dog.
Go Deeper with a Next Big Idea Club Membership
The Next Big Idea App is free for anyone to try—and if you love it, we invite you to become an official member of the Next Big Idea Club. Membership grants you unlimited access to Book Bites and unlocks early-release, ad-free episodes of our LinkedIn-partnered podcast. You also gain entry to our private online discussion group, where you can talk big ideas with fellow club members and join exclusive live Q&A sessions with featured authors.
For a more focused learning experience, we recommend a Hardcover or eBook Membership. Every few months, legendary authors and club curators Malcolm Gladwell, Susan Cain, Adam Grant, and Daniel Pink select two new nonfiction books as the must-reads of the season. We then send hardcover copies straight to your doorstep, or eBook versions to your favorite digital device. We also collaborate with the authors of selected books to produce original reading guides and premium video e-courses, 50-minute master classes that take you step by step through their most life-changing ideas. And yes, it’s all available through the Next Big Idea App.
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Whether you prefer to read, listen, or watch, the Next Big Idea is here to help you work smarter and live better. Wake up with an always-fresh Idea of the Day, the perfect shot of inspiration to go with your morning coffee. Then dive into one of our Challenges, hand-picked collections of Book Bites that form crash courses in subjects like communication, motivation, and career acceleration. Later, watch the playback of an interview with U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Stanford psychologist Jennifer Eberhardt, or philosopher John Kaag. And be sure to check the “Events” tab in the app, so that you can join an upcoming live Q&A and personally chat with the next featured thought leader.
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