Best Business Books 2021

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Consumer behavior

Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2021), by Oliver Burkeman, the year’s best book about consumer behavior, is a book about consumption in the deepest sense, a book about how we spend our time. As Burkeman puts it, in one of the book’s most haunting sentences, “When you pay attention to something you don’t especially value, it’s not an exaggeration to say that you’re paying with your life.” We act as if we have all the time in the world, so that it’s possible to see and do everything we want. And as a result, we’re constantly in fear of missing out. The reality, of course, is that there isn’t time enough to watch everything, read everything, do everything. The task, as it were, is to recognize this and make your peace with it. The book’s real message: recognize your limits, both in terms of how much you can do and how long it will take to do it, and cultivate what Burkeman calls an active, muscular patience.

—Adapted from “Best Business Books 2021: Making attention pay,” by James Surowiecki


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