In my opinion, bookstores are filled with so much management psycho-babble that it's hard to pick out the few gems that come out each year that have a positive impact on my life or career. I enjoy finding "off topic" books that allow my brain to grab hold of new [u]concepts[/u] and [u]processes[/u] not just others' thoughts.
This year, I'm still looking for those couple of gems but last year was a different story. Dan Pink's A Whole New Mind was not designed (one of my new favorite concepts) to be a management book but what a great one it was for me. Taking a simple look at how innovation and design and the way we think about things can be changed by the smallest of factors is an amazing idea that I have used to simplify my operation and improve the communication we have with our internal partners.
Freakonomics, although not for the faint of political heart, is single handedly my favorite book of the last decade. Again, this is no management or leadership lesson... or is it??? Every decision you make has another consequence you may not have foreseen... there is typically more than one "right" answer to even the most direct questions... data can tell you a lot of things, especially when clouded by emotion, the trick can sometimes be in looking at data from a real objective perspective (again, real objective, not just you saying you're now going to be objective). This book has changed the way I manage by always trying to get down to the "freaky data".
Books are like most things in life... one man's trash is another man's treasure, these books, in my life, are absolute treasures.