My favorite party trick these days involves stealing.
Specifically, stealing an idea I found in a book and sharing it with a fellow guest. I love the “No way!” and “So cool!” I get when I talk about a weird fact or a new psychological finding I’ve just learned.
The truth is, you can find these fascinating tidbits in pretty much any book you pick up. But the nine books Business Insider has listed below are just brimming with shareable insights.
Here’s a brief synopsis of each one, and how it’ll help you spark great conversations.
‘Better Than Before’ by Gretchen Rubin
Rubin is the bestselling author of multiple books about happiness and habits; her most well-known is her 2012 book, “The Happiness Project.”
In “Better Than Before,” published in 2015, Rubin helps readers figure out their “Tendency” — a.k.a. their typical approach to habits. Everyone, she says, falls into one of four categories: Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel.
Rubin also offers 21 strategies for developing better habits, each one tailored to different personality types.
‘Smarter Faster Better’ by Charles Duhigg
This 2016 book is the second bestseller Duhigg has published; the first was “The Power of Habit” in 2012.
Duhigg, a New York Times journalist, explores the science of productivity from different angles: how to make an optimal to-do list, how Disney created the mega-hit “Frozen”; and what makes Google teams effective.
The book is full of eye-opening stories that Duhigg dug up in his research, like how an airplane pilot prevented the plane from crashing by creating a “mental model.”
‘Unfinished Business’ by Anne-Marie Slaughter
This book stemmed from a viral Atlantic article titled, “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All,” which Slaughter published in 2012.
Slaughter was the dean of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs; she subsequently served as the first female director of policy planning in the US State Department, under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
After two years in Washington, Slaughter returned to an academic career at Princeton University, feeling that her family needed her at home. The experience sparked her article in The Atlantic.
In the book, published in 2015, Slaughter argues that we undervalue certain contributions to society — like parenting and caregiving in general — and challenges conventional notions about what work and gender equality really mean. Her arguments are supported by research as well as personal anecdotes.