'Psychoanalysis: The Impossible Profession' by Janet Malcolm
Gladwell considers Janet Malcolm to be his other role model as nonfiction writer.
"I reread Malcolm's 'Psychoanalysis: The Impossible Profession' just to remind myself how nonfiction is supposed to be done," Gladwell told the Times.
He loves the confidence she writes with. As he told the Longform podcast, Malcolm writes with the confidence that the reader has no choice but to keep following along — unlike how he fights for the reader's attention with every sentence.
"Even when she is simply sketching out the scenery, you know that something wonderful and thrilling is about to happen," Gladwell says.
Gladwell says you really only need to read one, "The Opposable Mind" by University of Toronto management professor Roger Martin.
The book "explores what makes great CEOs stand out from their peers," Gladwell says. "I realize that there are thousands of business books on the subject, but, trust me, this is the first to really answer the question."
Martin knows what he's talking about — in his 15 years of serving as the dean of the University of Toronto's Rotman School, Fortune says that he turned "a small, irrelevant Canadian B-school to a legitimate global player."
'Traffic: Why We Drive The Way We Do' by Tom Vanderbilt
Penned by Slate columnist Tom Vanderbilt, "Traffic" investigates human nature from beyond the driver's seat.
Gladwell says that "Traffic" is "one of the heirs to the 'Freakonomics' legacy."
Vanderbilt, "a very clever young writer, tells us all sorts of things about what driving says about us," Gladwell continues. "I kept waiting for the moment when my interest in congestion and roads would run its course. It never did."
'Nixon Agonistes: The Crisis of the Self-Made Man' by Garry Wills
Gladwell has said that he'd never try to write about politics because there are already so many fantastic political writers.
He cites the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Garry Wills and his presidential biography "Nixon Agonistes" as a primary case study.
"A classic from the early '70s by one of the great political writers of his time," Gladwell said. "Written just before Richard Nixon resigned, it's as devastating a portrait of him as has ever been written."