At Ness Labs, we believe in the power of ideas and the profound impact of continuous learning. Each month, we curate a small selection that stands out in an overwhelming ocean of books to choose from. The Ness Labs Best Books series aims to highlight work that can serve as a compass to life—both personal and professional—so you can achieve your potential without sacrificing your mental health. This is your guide to discovering the most insightful, inspiring, and transformative books on mindful productivity, creative growth, holistic ambition, and developing a healthier relationship with work.
The Good Enough Job
Simone Stolzoff’s The Good Enough Job offers a compelling critique of the prevailing culture that places our work and professional ambitions at the center of our identities. Through insightful reporting and interviews with individuals across diverse professions, Stolzoff lays bare the impacts of intertwining our sense of self with our jobs and the cost it exacts on our well-being and even professional success. The book prompts us to question the status quo, challenging the societal expectation of work as a calling, a dream to be chased relentlessly. For those striving to find a healthier relationship with work and ambition, The Good Enough Job provides a refreshing perspective. By exposing the myths that have chained us to our work desks and that underscore the overvaluation of work compared to other important areas of life, Stolzoff inspires us to redefine what it means for a job to be good enough.
The Order of Time
Time has bemused us since the dawn of consciousness. With his unique combination of scientific insight, philosophical wisdom, and artistic flair, Rovelli takes us on a journey to demystify the enigma of time. He guides us from Einstein to loop quantum gravity, all the while challenging and reshaping our intuitive understanding of time’s very structure and compelling us to confront the startling realities of our universe, where time flows at varied speeds in different places. With his help, we understand that the distinctions between past, future, and present are far less rigid than we perceive. Rovelli’s work is not just an intellectual feast; it’s also a call to introspection. For those obsessively striving to master time management, this book serves as a reminder to reconsider our relationship with time. It urges us to reflect on the interconnectedness of our selfhood and our perception of time. With The Order of Time, Rovelli nudges us to view time not as a foe to be tamed but as an intrinsic part of our existence to be understood and appreciated.
The book Hidden Genius by Polina Marinova Pompliano is a treasure trove of insights from some of the world’s most interesting individuals. After five years of studying these high performers through her work at The Profile, Pompliano offers readers a unique opportunity to understand the mental frameworks these people use to navigate complex problems, fuel their creativity, and perform exceptionally under pressure. Far from simple tricks, these frameworks offer profound shifts in perspective that can redefine your worldview. Probably the greatest thing about Polina’s book is that it goes beyond sharing successful people’s stories: it provides a mental toolkit that you can use to tackle complex problems, navigate relationships, and foster creativity and resilience in the face of uncertainty. As such, Hidden Genius is an invaluable resource to enhance your thinking skills or seek inspiration during trying times.
Saving Time by Jenny Odell is a riveting investigation into our relationship with time, compelling us to question the societal structures that commodify it and push us towards relentless efficiency. Odell argues that the societal clock we live by was designed more for profit than for people, turning even our leisure into quantifiable, transactional moments. Her book highlights how our distorted perception of time is intricately tied to enduring the climate, social, and mental health crises. Yet, Odell’s book is not a despairing read; it’s a beacon of hope, presenting us with alternative ways to experience time. By saving time from its commodification, Odell suggests that time, in its most authentic and diverse forms, may also save us, offering a profound source of meaning beyond the constraints of the workplace or the dictates of a profit-oriented society. In short, her book is a thoughtful rebellion against reality as we know it.
The Pathless Path
The Pathless Path by Paul Millerd takes readers on a deeply personal journey of self-discovery and personal growth. From his beginnings as a small-town Connecticut kid to reaching what he thought at the time was the pinnacle of success at a prestigious consulting firm, Paul had it all by conventional standards. Yet, he chose to walk away, setting off on his life’s “real work”: identifying what truly mattered to him and daringly constructing a life around those values. This book is not a how-to manual filled with life hacks. Rather, The Pathless Path is an intimate account of Paul’s transition from a life focused on professional advancement to one centered on work that genuinely matters. This book should be an essential companion for those contemplating a departure from their current jobs, embarking on a new path, navigating the uncertainties of an unconventional trajectory, or seeking alternative ways to understand work in our rapidly evolving world.
Other books to explore this month:
- Exhalation by Ted Chiang (this is fiction but relevant to the future of life and work)
- The Art & Business Of Ghostwriting by Nicolas Cole
- How We Learn by Stanislas Dehaene
Do you have any books to recommend for the Ness Labs Best Books series? Please let us know via the contact form. We welcome self-recommendations.