Termites can be segregated by their lust of books. Some forage them for gastronomy while others for taxonomy.
I have been a biblopath since college and being in business for 20+ years, have spent countless hours browsing business books in every bookstore that I could possibly locate. In those bookstores, reclining against a shelf, many a times I have been privy to animated discussions, over the business books that should be read. Executives and students, who wish to educate themselves are forever seeking and dispensing folk wisdom on books, its contents and their authors.
Their source of confusion often is the ocean of “thin content books” and “laundry list curations” that is out there. The problem is that unless you sift properly, finding published pearls, is more the exception than the rule. Spared of prolix theories, they are often seeking business books that will give them working models and readable subtitles, for handling most business situations.
Now, Abraham Lincoln being the astute human he was, had this value definition of kinship: “my best friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read”.
Unfortunately I couldn’t be his best friend, due to temporal overlap issues that we had, but I want to be yours. So I present to you my collection of best business books that are out there. I have compiled this best list out of 100s of business books that I have savored, tasted or avoided.
With this collection of 70 business books, spread across 14 categories, I have tried to cover the full spectrum of business knowledge that one needs. These books will immediately put anyone who invests time in pursuing them on the high road of business mastery. The best way of using this collection is to start with an area that interests you or in an domain where you are facing an immediate challenge and then over time, populate your overall conceptual library.
Also in order, is a small note about the organization and the selection criterion of these books.
I believe, any master should have knowledge and skills in three overlapping and concentric domains. The innermost circle has to have the skills of managing self, middle circle is the craft that you seek to master and the big outer circle is about the environment of its application.
So in organizing these books, though the large focus is on the craft of doing business, I have also endeavored to cover all three overlapping territories of
1) Managing self.
2) Business, domains and dimensions
3) Evolving business environment.
Across these territories, the books mentioned are geared towards providing usable tools and frames, which are practical and can be learned and deployed.
This collection would have been poorer if all it had was a left brain focus. We learn through stories and examples as well. Hence I have included books which recount parables and the business graphies of hallowed businesses. They inspire and engage our right brains and thus often keep us on the learning track, reinforcing the message deeply.
As about the authors and coaches, that adorn this list I must confess to two dominant biases, in their selection. First, as you would not want to learn combat from a general who has personally never fought on a battlefront, likewise I believe somebody who has not been into corporate trenches is largely peddling intellectual candy. His writing will lack heart and unfortunately, nakedness shows.
Also I have excluded modern, uni-dimensional well promoted, books as they add little to you but are often speaking or consulting assignments baits, for their authors. Emerson obviously presaged their advent when he proclaimed: Some books make us free, some leave us free.
With this filtering then, what is left are a bevy of dedicated doers and original thinkers in whose company you can spend many a pleasant days feeling enriched by their insights and their generosity. They will teach you, enthrall you and will give you as many aha moments as you can afford to exhale upon.
Also as far as I know, visually this is one of a kind, Business “Shelf Help” Collection.
In case you have any suggestions or ideas to make it better or if you think I have left out any major business publication please do let me know in the comments section below and I will be happy to consider those for inclusion.
If Ignorance is obesity of the mind then I invite you to be healthy !!!