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10 Fascinating Books to Help You Learn Something New

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The humble book is probably one of the most powerful inventions in human history.

They’re a hugely valuable asset — and particularly so when it comes to developing your career.

To celebrate World Book Day 2020, we’ve come up with a list of our 10 favourite books that you can use to help you learn something new, whether it’s at home or at work.

 

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1.      The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do, and How to Change

Author: Charles Duhigg

Publisher: Random House

Our success in mastering new skills is often based on how well we can change and form habits, so if you want to learn, you need to develop a good learning habits.

Charles Duhigg explores the neurological patterns and mental processes that form our habits, and the golden rule of habit change: how to stop negative habits and replace them with positive ones.

Duhigg also looks at the concept of ‘keystone habits’ — habits that trigger the formation of other habits — which have the potential to transform cultures in workplaces. 

 

2.      Thinking Fast and Slow

Author: Daniel Kahneman

Publisher: Paul Goundry

Daniel Kahneman, winner of the Nobel Prize for economics, explores the intriguing idea that we have two different thinking ‘speeds’ — fast and slow — in this bestseller that’s been described as everything from ‘profound’ to ‘a masterpiece’.

Recognising the various ways in which our minds can become unstuck by fast and intuitive thinking, this book provides some practical techniques for helping us to think slower and make better decisions.

 

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3.      Everything Bad is Good for You: How Popular Culture is Making Us Smarter

Author: Steven Johnson

Publisher: Penguin

How many times did you hear the age-old argument from your parents when you were growing up that TV, videos games and popular culture are bad for you? Well, media theorist and author Steven Johnson has a fascinating idea for you: they aren’t — in fact, they could even be helping us learn better than before.

Johnson argues that mass culture is much more sophisticated now than it was in the past, with modern culture requiring us to process complex, multi-faceted messages. Rather than making us stupider, Johnson argues that popular culture is making us much smarter by forcing us to develop different mental skills.

If Johnson’s assertions are correct, this could have big implications for learning and development in the workplace!

 

4.      How We Learn: Throw out the rule book and unlock your brain’s potential

Author: Benedict Carey

Publisher: Random House

What if everything we knew about learning was actually wrong? That’s what award-winning science reporter Benedict Carey argues in this intriguing book. Carey’s argument is that from the moment we’re born, we’re learning automatically, through methods that we don’t even consider as ‘learning’ — like sleeping, daydreaming and forgetting.

Carey explores the various ways that we can improve the ‘deep-learning’ of our brain, from interweaving subjects when learning new skills, through to staying up late to revise before an exam.

 

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5.      Fairness for All: Unlocking the Power of Employee Engagement

Author: Mark Price

Publisher: David Fickling Books

Mark Price, former Managing Director of Waitrose and Deputy Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, knows a thing or two about business.

To Price, employees are the most important stakeholders that a business has.  According to his philosophy, treating employees fairly and developing their skills is essential to developing a thriving culture of employee development.

Examining best practice from other companies and concentrating on the influential John Lewis Partnership model, ‘Fairness for All’ explores how an inclusive form of capitalism can be developed through unlocking the power of employee engagement.

 

6.      Understanding How We Learn: A Visual Guide

Author: Yana Weinstein

Publisher: Routledge

Weinstein challenges our reliance on intuition at the expense of evidence-based approaches when it comes to learning. This book is a great read if you want to ground your learning approaches in proven evidence (or if you need to convince a tricky stakeholder to fund an L&D project!)

Accessible and genuinely interesting, this guide explores human cognitive psychology, strategies for effective learning, and applying them to the learning environment.

 

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7.      The Post-Capitalist Society

Author: Peter Drucker

Publisher: Routledge

If you want to position your skills for the future, this book is essential reading.

Having been a big influence on the philosophy and practice of modern business, management consultant Peter Drucker also correctly predicted many key developments that others thought impossible: from privatisation and outsourcing through to the rise of Japan as a leading economy.

In this influential book, Drucker argues that several countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and France have entered a post-capitalist system of production. In this system, capital is no longer present because it belongs to a series of organisations (like banks, insurance companies etc.) rather than one person or family.

Ordinary people will effectively become the owners of businesses and capital, basically overcoming capitalism. Drucker predicts that this post-capitalist world will be a society of highly-specialised organisations, where the continued learning of workers will be essential to growth.

 

8.      Workplace Learning: How to Build a Culture of Continuous Employee Development

Author: Nigel Paine

Publisher: Kogan Page

Sometimes, the thing we need the most is just a good old-fashioned guide to a subject. Paine’s ‘Workplace Culture’ is just that.

Teaching you how to develop a culture of ongoing workplace learning, this book covers everything from finding key learning areas to focus on, through to implementing and developing learning processes.

At the heart of Paine’s book is a relatively simple idea: that in order to keep a business competitive, its employees have to be able to adapt quickly to change. The best way that they can do this is through constantly developing their knowledge and skills in the workplace.

 

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9.      Learning Technologies in the Workplace: How to Successfully Implement Learning Technologies in Organizations

Author: Donald H. Taylor

Publisher: Kogan Page

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that technology can solve all the L&D challenges in your organisation. This book will help you think about learning tech in a realistic, practical way.

Donald Taylor explores the entire process of implementing a learning technology strategy in a business: from asking the right questions and identifying staff training needs, through to dealing with potential resistance along the way.

 

10.      Map It: The hands-on guide to strategic training design

Author: Cathy Moore

Publisher: Montesa Press

This one’s great for professionals who are working in learning and development and want to make their courses more relevant to the needs of their learners.

Using humour, plenty of real-world examples and a useful visual approach, Moore’s approach guides you through the process of developing a course that designed to provide the best learning experience possible.

 

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