The great thing about reading non-fiction is that you often encounter a book that completely changes your outlook on life. This has happened to me many times over the years but perhaps the most dramatic and life-changing example came about seven years ago when I read Matthew Syed’s fantastic debut, Bounce.  Reading this book drastically changed my entire belief system around the idea of ‘talent.’

All of the books that I am going to talk about today effectively blow apart the presumption that some of us are born with special abilities and some of us are not. Many will immediately argue against this point, but read these extraordinarily insightful books and you too will change the manner in which you perceive everyday ‘talent’ and its many examples.

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‘Bounce’ ~Matthew Syed

As mentioned above, this was the book that opened up the conversation of talent for me. What I liked about this book was that Syed competed at two Olympic games as the No.1 British Table Tennis international and so he already knew what it takes to get to the top. His wove elements of his own story into this book’s material to make it a more personal read than the other books on this list.  His many years working as a Times newspaper journalist also made this a very professional and easy-to-read book to get through. Out of the five books mentioned here, this one is probably the easiest to digest and so it is a great book to start your journey. Syed references many of his peers below and that is how I ended up reading more on this subject. I love this book and the next one on the list so much that I have bought many copies to replace the ones that I have given away!

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‘Mindset’ ~Dr. Carol Dweck

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In my opinion, this book is the most powerful of them all. It empowers the reader to look at the limiting beliefs that they might have about talent and continuous improvement. It does this largely from a psychological point of view which makes it a different read from the works of others regarding talent. I strongly believe that this book is an essential read for every parent, teacher, business leader and sports coach  out there that wants to get the best out of their charges and the best out of themself. Reading Bounce opened my eyes, but this book deeply ingrained strong beliefs within me that still affect me today. If you don’t read the book, at least watch this short presentation by the author and learn about the power of having a growth mindset:


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‘Outliers’ ~Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell writes fantastic non-fiction and he is referenced many times by the other authors mentioned here in their own tomes. Gladwell brings a great deal of research to his work and this book is no different. Here he includes many real life examples through interviews, newspaper articles and scientific research papers. This makes this book a very scientific and informative read to back up your now rapidly forming opinions on talent. Read this book because, trust me, you will need all the evidence that you can get to counter a lifetime of arguments from those who think that talent and success are overnight successes.

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‘The Talent Code’ ~Daniel Coyle

This book gives countless examples of world renowned stars and breaks down the mystery of their success. These examples include the Brontë sisters, Russian tennis stars, Jessica Simpson, baseball players of the Dominican Republic, South Korean golfers and Chinese classical musicians to name but a few. While Gladwell seems to be a paper person, Coyle appears to be more of a people person. I will always remember this book for Coyle’s use of the term ‘talent hotbeds.’ These are the mysterious areas of the world that seem to mass produce talented performers year after year. Coyle’s book is split into three parts; deep practise, ignition and master coaching. After reading this book, you will begin to understand how to create a ‘talent hotspot’ of your own.

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‘The Little Book Of Talent’ ~Daniel Coyle

Another Daniel Coyle book and while this one is not as groundbreaking as the other four books in this list, it is a perfect little read to refresh your memory on the main points covered above. It is the perfect coffee table book for the parent, teacher or coach who wants to remain true to the real values of talent creation. Many of the 52 tips mentioned in this book take only a couple of seconds to read and are instantly applicable. This is a great little book to play around with as you begin your quest for greatness!