40 Leaders Book Club

“What book do you think everyone should read?” We posed this question to the 2018 class of 40 Leaders Under Forty—a well-read group, as one might expect—and garnered a wide range of responses, from best-selling business tomes to children’s books and more. 

Kelly Donnelly and Alyssa Emanuelson both agree on the power of the Harry Potter series. “[It] meant a lot to me growing up,” Donnelly says, “and those books we grow up with… impact who we are and should be treasured.” Emanuelson adds The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society to her list—a dramatic novel based on the German occupation of the Channel Islands during World War II. Heather Russo suggests another WWII-related volume, Road to Valor—about cyclist Gino Bartali who twice won the Tour de France, 10 years apart, while taking on undercover missions during the war.

Both Tiffany White and Jeff Muniz endorse The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw—the story of those who came of age during the Great Depression and World War II and built modern America. Kyle W. King recommends Freakonomics, in which “a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything.” He says it challenges readers “to seek out the unintended consequences of our decisions… Each chapter is filled with interesting and unique stories that keep the reader engaged and at times thinking ‘I can’t believe this is actually real.’”

Oh, The Places You’ll Go!, by the one-and-only Dr. Seuss, comes highly regarded by Nick Yates and Adam C. Simmons. (For Simmons, it’s a toss-up between that and Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.) Bryan O’Neal and Melissa Yoder both recommend the classic Good to Great by Jim Collins; Dr. Steven Tsoraides suggests The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay and The Bible. Lauren Obalil was inspired by a pair of books she read this year: Capital Gaines by serial entrepreneur Chip Gaines and Girl, Wash Your Face by lifestyle expert Rachel Hollis. 

For Jessica Ford, George Samuel Clason’s The Richest Man in Babylon is a go-to graduation gift for friends and clients’ children. Myskeshia Mitchell thinks everyone should read Becoming a Person of Influence by John C. Maxwell; every African American should read Think and Grow Rich: A Black Choice by Dennis Kimbro and Napoleon Hill; and every woman should read Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. Other suggestions include:

  • Andre W. Allen: Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People like Family by Bob Chapman and Raj Sisodia 
  • Paroma Banerjee: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  • Benjamin Brewer: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
  • Jenna Ford: The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
  • Alyssa R. Herman: The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann
  • Xavier Nicholes Horton: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • John Kaiser: Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
  • Jodi Faye Lindsay: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
  • Eric W. Martin: The Servant: A Simple Story About the True Essence of Leadership by James C. Hunter
  • Erin Wood Miller: Writing Without Bullshit by Josh Bernoff
  • Olga K. Rowan: Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver
  • Priscilla Slaughter: The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell 
  • Jon Ward: The Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni

Whatever you choose to read, whether fiction or nonfiction, it’s important to read as much as possible—“in whatever subjects [you] are interested in,” adds Robert J. Hills. “Never stop learning and growing.” iBi