An average-length book will take you two to four hours to finish. Compare that to the time you spend on your phone: four hours per day. What’s more, you will spend over five years of your lifetime on social media alone.

Yes, phones as essential work (and life) tools, but if you say you don’t have time to read, take a moment to reflect if it’s just a question of priorities.

Much like our bodies, curious minds need fuel to function. While the nutritional value of a gif can be debated, a book will offer a well-rounded balance of perspectives, knowledge, and a-ha moments – not to mention a healthy dose of empathy when opting for literary fiction.

Whatever your medium of choice – e-book, audiobook, or a trusty hardcover or paperback – here are twelve book recommendations to dive into this summer. Our regular GamePlan A contributors have carefully selected them for creators and entrepreneurial minds with an athlete’s heart.

‘Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice’ by Matthew Syed

©HarperCollins Publishers Australia

“What are the secrets to success of the sporting and business elite? Written by a two-time Olympian and award-winning journalist, ‘Bounce’ delves deep into the human brain and dispels the myth that champions are born with a natural talent. This book offers a fascinating insight into the science behind high achievement in sport, business, and life, covering topics as widespread as neuroscience and psychology in a quest to understand not just success, but the mindset behind it.”

—Marcus Leach, Writer, Chef, Adventurer

‘Leading at The Edge’ by Dennis N. T. Perkins


“This real-life saga of the Shackleton Antarctic Expedition gone awry combines creative problem solving, motivation, decision quality, leading in ambiguity, and a plethora of timeless leadership competencies that exist in our day to day. The pragmatic parallels of leadership combined with the near-fatal expedition remind us that anything is possible and endurance is the key.”

—Tina Nicolai, Senior Recruiter at adidas

‘Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation’ by Michael Pollan

“‘Cooked’ looks at food as more than just a collection of ingredients, and digs into the magic that happens through the primal process of cooking with the elements. Through food processing and fad diets, our society has become so distant from real food that we barely recognize it as a product of the earth. If we could find a way to reconnect with food in the simple ways Pollan suggests, the world would be much healthier and happier. The book has also been adapted into a short series on Netflix.”

Brooke Rosenbauer, Elite Les Mills Instructor, Personal Trainer, and Health Coach at Reebok

‘Mindset: The New Psychology of Success’ by Carol S. Dweck

©Courtesy of Random House Books

“Dr. Dweck’s book is a quick and simple read highlighting the importance of growth versus fixed mindsets and their effect on sustainable high performance. It is an especially powerful read for all those who approach their personal and professional growth in a sporting way of continuous improvement.”

—Mark Verstegen, Founder and President of EXOS

‘Daring Greatly’ by Brené Brown


“This is one of those books you will read, reflect on, and come out with new perceptions. Dr. Brown recaps her research around shame and vulnerability, and how it is at the core of how we live our lives. She covers deep issues that affect how we show up in the workplace as professionals, and on the court or in the field as athletes. Touching on empathy, creativity, love, joy, and belonging, Brown helps us dig deep within ourselves to ultimately show greater courage and authenticity in the workplace.”

—Erica Cenci, Athlete Development Specialist and Professional Coach

‘The Listening Leader’ by Emilio Galli Zugaro with Clementina Galli Zugaro

“Long-time Corporate Communication Officer of Allianz AG Emilio Galli Zugaro gives hands-on insights on how he sees the communications function evolving in corporations. I recommend it not only for communications professionals, but for every manager who wants to improve their leadership skills. Listening and communicating well is an essential part of great leadership. Or phrased differently: you can’t be a leader without sound communication skills.”

—Jan Runau, Chief Corporate Communication Officer at adidas

‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ by Daniel Kahneman

©Penguin Books Ltd, 2011

“Psychologist Daniel Kahneman walks us through the mystery of human decision making. He describes two systems for how we think – one that is intuitive and emotional, and the other that is logical and deliberate. The book explains the advantages and faults of the way our brains are wired. You’ll be surprised and intrigued by the impacts of biases and the pervasive influence of intuition (whether right or wrong) on our thoughts and behaviors. You’ll start to question when you should be trusting your gut both in business and your personal life.”

—Olivia Rotenberg, Associate Manager Digital Business Development at Reebok

‘The Circle’ by Dave Eggers

©Verlag Kiepenheuer & Witsch

“This fictional story puts your work life and priorities into perspective and triggers your thoughts about the future role of digital and social networks in our world. I recommend reading ‘The Circle’ with a colleague, friend, or team mate at the same time so you can reflect on its themes together. You might end up in some pretty philosophical conversations.”

—Nina Weihrauch, Assistant Manager Social Media at adidas

‘The Success Principles’ by Jack Canfield with Janet Switzer

©HarperCollins Publishers Australia

“‘The Success Principles’ will teach you how to increase confidence, tackle daily challenges, live with passion and purpose, and realize your ambitions. As a Corporate Trainer at adidas, I conduct a workshop based on Canfield’s principles as part of our Company Sports Program. It has empowered participants to change their mindsets and live their dreams. If you work with the principles, the principles will work for you.”

—Linda Evenhuis, Senior Manager Program Facilitation at adidas

‘Positive Intelligence’ by Shirzad Chamine


“A great read about our minds and the different ways of thinking – which the author calls saboteurs – that prevent us from achieving true greatness in life. In this easy-to-read book, Chamine talks in depth about how to recognize these mental saboteurs, and provides plenty of actionable concepts to help combat them. The book changed how I carry myself through life.”

—Omid Scheybani, World Culture Storyteller

‘Start with Why’ by Simon Sinek


“A great book that explains why we should start with the ‘why’ and not with the ‘what’ or ‘how’ we do things. I especially like the presentation of personalities such as Martin Luther King and Steve Jobs, and the key learning that successful people often follow the same patterns.”

—Florian Gschwandtner, Co-founder and CEO of Runtastic

‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho

©Illustration Jim Tierney

“’The Alchemist’ is a must-read for all those on a journey to transform the power of dreams into reality. It will provoke you to embrace the fact the world is yours for the taking. Its simplicity is stunning, and at the same time the wisdom shared is monumentally staggering. The main character’s pilgrimage to find worldly goods morphs into a quest to discover the treasures he has within, something we can all relate to and learn from as we experience life’s triumphs and challenges.”

—Shaba Mohseni, Senior Manager Corporate Communication at adidas

What’s missing from the list? Let us know your favorite reads in the comments below.


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by Renee Kearney 13.07.2017
I appreciate this list of books! These great leaders have shared their own personal favorites. I will start with Leading at the Edge that Tina Nicolai shared, looks like a great read! I can't wait to read them all. Thanks for this!!
by Maria Nokkonen Renee Kearney 13.07.2017
Thanks for the lovely feedback, Renee. Glad you found some new reads – I did, too :)
by Tina Nicolai Renee Kearney 13.07.2017
So glad you are interested in reading Leading at the Edge, Renee! Please share your thoughts upon reading this book, as well as others on the list.
by Hannah Sellers 13.07.2017
"Let My People Go Surfing" a great read for any business, environmental, adventure mind and was one of those reads that you can reread and take away something different each time.
by Maria Nokkonen Hannah Sellers 14.07.2017
Thanks for the tip, Hannah!
by Jordan Willing 14.07.2017
I just finished Legacy by James Kerr. Great read and one that I found myself going back and re-reading portions over again as I went through to take notes. Absolutely recommend to anyone looking for a good read this summer. 5/5 stars.

Champions do extra.
They sweep the sheds.
They follow the spearhead.
They keep a blue head.
They are good ancestors.
by Pablo Baeza 15.07.2017
Great list! I'd add "The Element" by Ken Robinson, a truly inspiring book.
by SJ 16.07.2017
What I talk about when I talk about Running, by Murakami.
by Maria Nokkonen SJ 17.07.2017
That’s a great one! Christopher McDougall’s ‘Born to Run’ is another classic. For more practical running advice meshed with motivational tidbits, Robin Arzon’s ‘Shut Up And Run’ is one to check.
by Jennie Reid 16.07.2017
Thank you, Maria for the excellent recommendations of books to read! Perfect timing for my longhaul flight coming up! I think I'll start with Mindset by Carol S. Dweck. I've heard great things about it and I know how important having a positive mindset is for success, so am looking forward to reading about it.
by Nina Weihrauch 21.07.2017
I just finished 'What if?' from Randall Munroe - a former NASA engineer answers crazy questions in a very scientific way. Some chapters were pretty heavy on physics, but a lot were interesting AND entertaining, e.g. 'How many tweets are possible when using the English language?'
by Matt Dickens 25.07.2017
Great list, definitely add:
Legacy by James Kerr
The Rise of Superman by Stephen Kotler
7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
Clarity by Jamie Smart

And 2 personal favourites: The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged, both by Ayn Rand.
by Dan Kehlenbach 26.07.2017
Thanks for this list - will have to put some of these on my reading list. Another life-changing book is "Man's Search for Meaning" by holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl. It quickly puts life into perspective.
by Gene O\\\'Donnell 21.06.2018
When:The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H.Pink
Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Happier Life by Ariana Huffington
Managing by Henry Mintzberg
The Excellence Dividend by Tom Peters
Factfulness by Hans Rosling
Every Day is Game Day by Mark Verstegen
The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle
Peak Performance by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness
Triggers by Marshall Goldsmith
How We Learn by Benedict Carey