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Business books recommended by Bill Gates, Barack Obama and other successful people

Barack Obama and Bill Gates
Chesnot | Getty Images; Ian Langsdon | AFP | Getty Images

Today's most successful leaders, from Bill Gates to Richard Branson, have one thing in common: They're all avid readers, using books to stay sharp and in the know.

CNBC Make It has gathered 10 business and career books suggested by some of the world's most successful people in 2018. From former President Barack Obama to billionaire Mark Cuban, here are the books these leaders have recommended this year that will give you the edge you need.

"Leadership and Self-Deception"

Author: The Arbinger Institute
Recommended by: Slack co-founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield

What the book's about: "Leadership and Self-Deception" uses a relatable story about a man facing hurdles at work to show the ways we blind ourselves to our real motivations and hold ourselves back from reaching our goals and achieving happiness.

Why Butterfield recommends it: The Slack CEO said this was the most useful book he's ever read and it's one he has recommended to his entire executive team. He said two key ideas stood out to him: one, that people at work often treat co-workers as obstacles in the way of their goals; and two, that people can create villains at work to justify the ways they fall short of their own potential.

Said Butterfield, "It's crazy how much [these ideas show] up in everything — in every kind of relationship that you will have."

"That's What She Said"

Author: Joanne Lipman
Recommended by: Billionaire investor and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban

What the book's about: In "That's What She Said," former USA Today editor-in-chief Joanne Lipman tackles gender norms in the workplace and offers solutions on gender gap issues. Using anecdotes from numerous corporate flubs, recent studies and stories from her own experience, Lipman offers a road map for empowering women.

Why Mark Cuban recommended it: As a business leader, Cuban said the book provides "amazing insights" that could help anyone recognize workplace issues, communication challenges and possible solutions.

"One of my most important takeaways from the book was learning that treating everyone equally doesn't mean treating everyone the same," said Cuban in a Barron's interview. "Each person has unique qualities that can benefit a company in ways I hadn't fully considered. This book helped me. It will help you, too."

"The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving a Career You Love Without Becoming a Person You Hate"

Author: Fran Hauser
Recommended by: Self-made millionaire and media mogul Arianna Huffington

What the book's about: Through anecdotes, hard-won wisdom and time-tested strategies, Hauser's "The Myth of the Nice Girl" shows that women leaders can be both kind and strong.

Why Huffington recommends it: Huffington said the book redefined the "outdated notion of what powerful leaders should look like and shows how a culture in which we no longer allow brilliant jerks to dominate the workplace will be better not just for women, but for everyone — and for the bottom line."

"Leadership: In Turbulent Times"

Author: Doris Kearns Goodwin
Recommended by: Salesforce co-CEO Keith Block

What the book's about: "Leadership" poses a fundamental question: Are leaders born or made? Goodwin studies the adversities faced by four American presidents: Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. By looking at their first entries into public life, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Goodwin reveals how they saw leadership qualities in themselves and how they were perceived as leaders by others.

Why Block recommended it: "As a business leader and a student of history," Block told the Wall Street Journal, the book offers "invaluable lessons for anyone who leads a team, large or small."

By showcasing the skills the former presidents learned in their careers, Block said the book provides an "an essential, thought-provoking and timely guide for any leader facing any challenge."

"Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup"

Author: John Carreyrou
Recommended by: Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates

What the book's about: "Bad Blood" tells the story of failed blood-testing startup Theranos and its founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes, who was once widely celebrated as the "female Steve Jobs." The book tells the "riveting story of the biggest corporate fraud since Enron, a tale of ambition and hubris set amid bold promises of Silicon Valley," according to its Amazon description.

Why Gates recommended it: The book offers a number of lessons any company can learn, wrote Gates on his blog, from properly scaling a startup to building an appropriate a board of directors who'll notice red flags.

But ultimately, said Gates, the book is a "thriller with a tragic ending," one he said he couldn't put down. He said the book is "full of bizarre details that will make you gasp out loud." Said Gates, the work is the perfect book to be read in front of the fire this winter.

"Startup: A Silicon Valley Adventure"

Author: Jerry Kaplan
Recommended by: Venture capitalist Bill Gurley

What the book's about: In "Startup," computer scientist and entrepreneur Jerry Kaplan explains how he built his computer company GO corporation in the late 1980s. His team pioneered a hand-held computer operated with a pen and faced numerous failures along the way. He also shares his encounters with computing titans such as Microsoft's Bill Gates and ex-Apple CEO John Sculley.

Why Gurley recommended it: Though published in 1995, "Startup" offers a personal take on the daily struggle to launch a company from the ground up, which can still apply to today. In a tweet earlier this year, he named it a book "every entrepreneur should read."

"It's a spectacular book because [Kaplan] had a tape recorder and on the way home from work every day, he dictated himself notes," Gurley said last year, according to Silicon Valley Business Journal. "It's remarkably detailed. We spend so much time analyzing success. Sometimes it's good to read how hard it can be."

"The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life"

Author: Alice Schroeder
Recommended by: Golden State Warriors small forward Andre Iguodala

What the book's about: "The Snowball" is one of a limited number of authorized biographies available on billionaire investor Warren Buffett. Schroeder, a former Morgan Stanley insurance analyst, so impressed Buffett with her writing, perception and business savvy, he allowed her unprecedented access to learn about his work and life. Based on numerous interviews, Schroeder provides a wide-ranging look at Buffett's personal life, investment strategy and business tactics.

Why Iguodala recommended it: The basketball star said Schroeder's book on Buffett is one he can't live without. The work, at 982 pages, is "probably the longest" business book he's ever read, he said, but also one of the best.

"[Buffett has] been studying money since the age of 8," Iguodala told GQ. "So that's like me — I've been playing basketball since I was 6. His environment put him in that situation. He put the hard work in and made the most of his opportunities."

"The Person You Mean To Be"

Author: Dolly Chugh
Recommended by: Wharton professor and organizational psychologist Adam Grant

What the book's about: In "The Person You Mean To Be," New York University Stern School of Business social psychologist Dolly Chugh details how people can identify bias in their actions and change their actions and behaviors. In a step-by-step guide, Chugh provides a way to think about inclusion and strategies to implement it.

Why Grant recommended it: "Finally: a lively, evidence-based book about how to battle biases, champion diversity and inclusion, and advocate for those who lack power and privilege," wrote Grant about the book on LinkedIn. "An unusually thoughtful psychologist makes a convincing case that being an ally isn't about being a good person—it's about constantly striving to be a better person."

"The New Geography of Jobs"

Author: Enrico Moretti
Recommended by: Former President Barack Obama

What the book's about: "The New Geography of Jobs," University of California Berkeley economist Enrico Moretti explores the power of location on financial outcomes. For example, he considers why cities such as San Jose and Austin have seen economic booms in the last decade, while others have not.

Why Obama recommended It: Though the book was published in 2012, Obama listed it as one of the select books he read this year. He also noted there's still plenty for people to take away from it for those looking to understand how to make the most of shifting economies.

"It's six years old now, but still a timely and smart discussion of how different cities and regions have made a changing economy work for them — and how policymakers can learn from that to lift the circumstances of working Americans everywhere," wrote Obama on Facebook.

"New Power"

Authors: Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms
Recommended by: Virgin Group founder and billionaire Richard Branson

What the book's about: In "New Power," authors look at the forces shaping the hyperconnected 21st century and how that's impacting politics, business and society.

Why Branson recommends it: The billionaire founder of Virgin Group suggested the book for those who "want to understand how the world is changing, what's really happening and how we can all find our way." As he wrote on his blog, Branson noted that Heimans and Timms offer "a useful lens to use when thinking about how business has changed, how to spread ideas or start a movement, or create change."

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Slack’s CEO recommended this book to his entire leadership team
Slack’s CEO recommended this book to his entire leadership team