Last year you set the goal to finally stop guessing. You were going to test, experiment, and iterate your way to business success. Where did the year go? There were other priorities, you weren’t quite sure where to start, and all of the sudden, the year is over. If you’re serious about data-driven decision making, make that same promise to yourself and start with these 10 books.

Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability and Science of Customer Centricity


Avinash Kaushik

A how-to book that will get you out of the data bog and into the world of actionable insights. Web Analytics 2.0 is comprehensive, delightfully accessible, and 100% action-oriented.

Get it here

Data Smart: Using Data Science to Transform Information Into Insight


John W. Foreman

A book to take the magic out of data science and put the…well…science back into it. The Chief Data Scientist at walks readers through techniuqes like outlier detection, optimization, and forecasting using only Excel.

Get it here

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions


Dan Ariely

We prefer to think of ourselves as rational beings, but this book reminds us just how susceptible we are to irrational thought. A great book for anyone interested in better understanding human behavior.

Get it here

The Undercover Economist


Tim Harford

A crash course in basic economic principles that will engage the mind of any data-driven thinker.

Get it here

The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More


Chris Anderson

For the many ecommerce marketers who are finding success tapping into a niche market, this book is for you. The revised edition adds an additional chapter with advice how to apply the book’s insights to online marketing.

Get it here

The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses


Eric Ries

The data-driven approach to creating something new in an environment of uncertainty. Whether it’s a startup, a marketing campaign, or a new product – this is the book to read if you’re looking for a more scientific approach to testing what is and isn’t working in your organization.

Get it here

Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning


Thomas H. Davenport, Jeanne G. Harris

An overview on what it looks like to run a company based on data and analysis – from the attributes of a data-driven company to advise on managing analytical people.

Get it here

Doing Data Science: Straight Talk from the Frontline


Cathy O’Neil, Rachel Schutt

A collection of presentations made by various people to a Columbia University class – Introduction to Data Science. This is a technical book providing a solid introduction to the world of data science.

Get it here

Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative


Edward R. Tufte

The third book in Tufte’s series on information display focuses on information that changes over time. It’s by no means a textbook or comprehensive guide, but rather a loose collection of observations and ideas from a pioneer in the field of data visualization.

Get it here

Now You See It: Simple Visualization Techniques for Quantitative Analysis


Stephen Few

The perfect book for anyone responsible for using data to communicate. Now You See It explores a variety of methods of using data more effectively and in what scenario they are most effective.

Get it here

This list is hardly comprehensive. What other books would you recommend for people looking to get serious about making data-driven decisions?

Image courtesy of foto76 /

  • Jeff Noethen

    I’m biased since I co-wrote this book with Carlos Del Rio, but I would add “User Driven Change: Give Them What They Want” to this list. :) Good list though!

    • JanessaLantz


      Thanks for weighing in. Looks like a great book, I’ve added it to my Amazon reading list. Website testing & optimization is an important topic for many of our readers, let me know if you would ever be interested in writing a guest blog post.

  • Juan Carlos Borrás

    Foreman’s approachable style is these days a must for biz people and excel warriors. I’d drop Kaushik’s (yes, I just said so) and use Croll’s and Yoskovitz’s “Lean Analytics”. By Tufte get not just the one mentioned by the whole Trinity. Davenport’s is OK but Humby’s on the Tesco chain in UK (can’t remember the titles now) makes a good companion for it. Nice collection anyway Ms. Lantz.

    • JanessaLantz

      Drop Kaushik’s?! I won’t tell anyone you said that :) Thanks for taking the time to add your comments to the list. I haven’t read the Tesco book, but I’ll certainly check it out.

  • Muhammad Ali

    Good Collection Janessa.

  • PeerPowerInc

    Thanks for this post Janessa. I would add How to Measure Anything by Douglas Hubbard. -Michael