Was 2022 a happy year for you? Maybe you got a promotion or started seeing someone special. Or maybe, despite your best efforts, the past year wasn’t particularly happy—with too much stress at work, perhaps, or persistent feelings of loneliness. Either way, how can we shift our habits and mindsets to have a better, happier 2023?
At the Next Big Idea Club, we crunched the numbers to identify the happiness books that were loved most by our tens of thousands of app users. (Our curators Malcolm Gladwell, Susan Cain, Daniel Pink, and Adam Grant only pick each season’s two official selections.) So if you’re ready to discover a little more happiness next year, check out the 22 books below.
Learn something new every day with “Book Bites,” 15-minute audio summaries of the latest and greatest nonfiction. Get started by downloading the Next Big Idea App today!
22. Life Is Hard: How Philosophy Can Help Us Find Our Way
By Kieran Setiya
Warm, accessible, and good-humored, this book is about making the best of a bad lot. It offers guidance for coping with pain and making new friends, for grieving the lost and failing with grace, for confronting injustice and searching for meaning in life. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Kieran Setiya, in the Next Big Idea App
21. Happiness in Action: A Philosopher’s Guide to the Good Life
By Adam Adatto Sandel
A young philosopher and Guinness World Record holder in pull-ups argues that the key to happiness is not goal-driven striving but forging a life that integrates self-possession, friendship, and engagement with nature. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Adam Adatto Sandel, in the Next Big Idea App
20. The Sunny Nihilist: A Declaration of the Pleasure of Pointlessness
By Wendy Syfret
When you let go of the idea that everything must have purpose, you will find relief from stress, exhaustion, and anxiety. Most importantly, you can embrace the opportunity to enjoy the moment, the present, the chaos and luck of being alive at all. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Wendy Syfret, in the Next Big Idea App
19. Happier Hour: How to Beat Distraction, Expand Your Time, and Focus on What Matters Most
By Cassie Holmes
Based on her wildly popular MBA class at UCLA, an award-winning professor demonstrates how to immediately improve our lives by changing how we perceive and invest our time. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Cassie Holmes, in the Next Big Idea App
18. How to Be Authentic: Simone de Beauvoir and the Quest for Fulfillment
By Skye C. Cleary
How to Be Authentic is a lively introduction to Simone de Beauvoir’s philosophy of existentialism, as well as an exploration of the successes and failures that Beauvoir and other women have experienced in striving towards authenticity. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Skye Cleary, in the Next Big Idea App
17. Future Tense: Why Anxiety Is Good for You (Even Though It Feels Bad)
By Tracy Dennis-Tiwary
A psychologist confronts our pervasive misunderstanding of anxiety, and presents a powerful new framework for reimagining and reclaiming the confounding emotion as the advantage it evolved to be. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Tracy Dennis-Tiwary, in the Next Big Idea App
16. Toxic Positivity: Keeping It Real in a World Obsessed with Being Happy
By Whitney Goodman
A powerful guide to owning our emotions—even the difficult ones—in order to show up authentically in the world, from the popular therapist behind the Instagram account @sitwithwhit. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Whitney Goodman, in the Next Big Idea App
15. Mastering Community: The Surprising Ways Coming Together Moves Us from Surviving to Thriving
By Christine Porath
From the author of Mastering Civility comes an illuminating and empowering guide to help you discover just how important thriving communities are to our well-being and the success of organizations—and learn what steps you can take to create them. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Christine Porath, in the Next Big Idea App
14. A Life in Light: Meditations on Impermanence
By Mary Pipher
From the bestselling author of Women Rowing North and Reviving Ophelia comes a memoir in essays reflecting on radiance, resilience, and the constantly changing nature of reality. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Mary Pipher, in the Next Big Idea App
13. Losing Ourselves: Learning to Live Without a Self
By Jay Garfield
A leading expert on Buddhist philosophy offers a brief and radically clear account of an idea that at first might seem frightening but that promises to liberate us and improve our lives, our relationships, and the world. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Jay Garfield, in the Next Big Idea App
12. The Courage Playbook: Five Steps to Overcome Your Fears and Become Your Best Self
By Gus Lee
A leadership expert explains that with moral courage, we can overcome our fears. The Courage Playbook is a practical guide to gaining the courage to live rightly, treat others without bias, and lead inspirationally. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Gus Lee, in the Next Big Idea App
11. Don’t Trust Your Gut: Using Data to Get What You Really Want in Life
By Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
A former Google data scientist explains how hard facts and figures contradict our instincts yet reveal self-help that actually works—whether it involves the best time in life to start a business, or how happy it actually makes us to skip a friend’s birthday party for a night of Netflix on the couch. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, in the Next Big Idea App
10. Choose Your Story, Change Your Life: Silence Your Inner Critic and Rewrite Your Life from the Inside Out
By Kindra Hall
This eye-opening journey will transform you from a passive listener of limiting, unconscious thoughts into the definitive author of who you are and everything you want to be. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Kindra Hall, in the Next Big Idea App
9. Big Feelings: How to Be Okay When Things Are Not Okay
By Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy
Big Feelings helps us understand that difficult emotions are not abnormal, and that we can emerge from them with a deeper sense of meaning. We can’t stop emotions from bubbling up, but we can learn how to make peace with them. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by co-authors Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy, in the Next Big Idea App
8. The Good Life Method: Reasoning Through the Big Questions of Happiness, Faith, and Meaning
By Meghan Sullivan and Paul Blaschko
Two Notre Dame philosophy professors invite us into the classroom to investigate what figures such as Aristotle, Plato, Marcus Aurelius, Iris Murdoch, and W. E. B. Du Bois have to say about how to live well. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by co-authors Meghan Sullivan and Paul Blaschko, in the Next Big Idea App
7. The Earned Life: Lose Regret, Choose Fulfillment
By Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter
Discover the steps to earning your path to fulfillment and living without regrets—from the world-renowned executive coach and New York Times bestselling author of Triggers and What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by co-author Marshall Goldsmith, in the Next Big Idea App
6. The Good-Enough Life
By Avram Alpert
A Princeton University lecturer shows how our obsession with greatness results in stress and anxiety, damage to our relationships, widespread political and economic inequality, and destruction of the natural world. He describes how to move beyond greatness to create a society in which everyone flourishes. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Avram Alpert, in the Next Big Idea App
5. The Expectation Effect: How Your Mindset Can Change Your World
By David Robson
Melding neuroscience with narrative, a science journalist takes readers on a deep dive into the many life zones the “expectation effect” permeates—like how associating aging with wisdom can add seven plus years to your life. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author David Robson, in the Next Big Idea App
4. The End of Burnout: Why Work Drains Us and How to Build Better Lives
By Jonathan Malesic
Going beyond the how and why of burnout, a former tenured professor combines academic methods and first-person experience to propose new ways for resisting our cultural obsession with work and transforming our vision of human flourishing. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Jonathan Malesic, in the Next Big Idea App
3. The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward
By Daniel Pink
Drawing on research in social psychology, neuroscience, and biology, a world-renowned thinker debunks the myth of the “no regrets” philosophy of life. In fact, regrets offer compelling insights into how we live—and how we can find a better path forward. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Daniel Pink, in the Next Big Idea App
2. The Science of Stuck: Breaking Through Inertia to Find Your Path Forward
By Britt Frank
Bringing together research-backed solutions and empowering personal stories, this book is a hands-on road map for moving forward with purpose, confidence, and the freedom to become who you’re truly meant to be. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Britt Frank, in the Next Big Idea App
1. From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life
By Arthur C. Brooks
Drawing on social science, philosophy, biography, theology, and Eastern wisdom, as well as dozens of interviews with everyday men and women, a Harvard professor shows us that true life success is well within our reach. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Arthur C. Brooks, 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.
Learn Faster, from the World’s Leading Thinkers
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.
If you’re hoping to grow as a person or as a professional, we hope you’ll join us and tens of thousands of others who enjoy the Next Big Idea. Get started by downloading the app today!
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