The Great Books Collection


Great Books

I like to review and cleanup many of my lists at the end of the year.  I give special attention to my Great Books list.   With my Great Books lists, I attempt to round up the best books on specific topics to help you get useful insights and rapid results.  It’s about finding the books to lift you up and help you get ahead.

My Great Books list is actually a list of lists.   Within the Great Books list, I have the following key lists:

I have way more lists than just that, but I feature those for now.

I’ve finished updating my business books list, my leadership books list, my personal development books list, and my time management books list.  I’ll be cleaning up the additional book lists, but I’m also still playing around with the format of each book list.

Structured for Fast Scanning

The approach I’ve used so far is to organize the book lists into four main sections:

  1. Top 10 Best Books
  2. Getting Started
  3. Categories
  4. A-Z List of the Best Books

You can use the Top 10 Best Books section to very quickly see the best of the best.   I’ve recently added the Getting Started section so that you can start with some of the books that help you get a firm foundation in that particular topic.  The categories help chunk up the topic down into more specific topics.   The A-Z list of the best books is basically a long, flat list of the books so that you can quickly scan and compare with other book lists, including your own.

I’m mostly happy with the format because if you are just looking for a fast and simple answer, then just scan the top 10 or jump into a specific topic.  If, on the other hand, you are doing a deep dive into the topic, you can really use the list to explore a very complete set of books that will take your game to the next level.  For example, if you really want to grow your leadership skills, my Leadership Books list will help you do just that.

Let’s take a deeper look, using Leadership Books as an example …

Focused on Addressing Key Challenges

To illustrate how each book list is driven from key challenges, here is an example of the challenges that drove the best leadership books list:

  • How to create and share your vision, mission, and values
  • How to adopt a leadership mindset
  • How to build better daily leadership habits
  • How to build your emotional intelligence
  • How to deal with setbacks and failures as a leader
  • How to develop the leader within you
  • How to develop the leaders around you
  • How to do succession planning
  • How to execute
  • How to look and act like a leader
  • How to find your motivation and drive and help others find theirs
  • How to influence without authority
  • How to create a culture of excellence
  • How to create a learning organization and culture of growth
  • How to use situational leadership to improve your leadership ability
  • How to play to your strengths
  • How to prioritize and take decisive action
  • How to practice principle-centered leadership
  • How to practice servant leadership
  • How to establish healthy teamwork

Organized by Meaningful Categories

To illustrate how the books lists are organized by meaningful categories, here is an example of the categories I’ve used to organize the best leadership books:

Authenticity, Authentic Leadership
Development, Leadership Development
Emotional Intelligence, Heart, Empathy
Executive Presence
Failure, Setbacks
Influence, Rapport
Interpersonal Skills
Leadership, Lessons in Leadership
Learning, Growth
Principles, Practices, Strategies, Tactics
Purpose, Passion, Motivation
Reflection, Inner-Engineering
Servant Leadership
Situational Leadership

Vision, Mission, Values


As you can imagine, it’s a pretty comprehensive list of leadership books.  It’s more than that, though.  It’s also a set of useful categories for exploring, researching, and organizing leadership skills.   For example, if you want to be a more effective leader, you’ll want to explore emotional intelligence or executive presence or, perhaps, situational leadership.

To Summarize or Not to Summarize

One thing I’m struggling with is whether to summarize the key challenges for each book in the A-Z section.  The lists are already long, but they are light-weight.  If I add brief descriptions, it helps to summarize the book at a glance, but it makes the list heavier.  Since this is at the end of the list, it might be worth it.

Here is an example of how I summarize some of the books:

I’m very much leaning toward adding the brief descriptions because I think they add an additional level of clarity around the book, before reading the full reviews of each book.  I’ll need to test.

Enjoy the Great Books collection and use it to help you find the best books that will help grow your greatness.

Photo by Liz Grace.


  1. Hi JD,

    Just want to say thanks for all this work – these are life changing books and I am constantly back scanning this list for what to read next.

    Awesome job!

  2. @ Ricardo — Thank you.

    These are the books that have helped me in many, many ways, in work and life. What I like about books is that they give me a fast way to explore the many lessons from so many people at my own pace.

    Knowledge is power, and books light the way.

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