“Business books are to literature what military music is to the symphony; it has its place, but you can only take so much before you want scream…”
The reason business books are mostly awful is they are generally just vehicles for some personality to promote themselves and get rich(er).The worst examples of this genre are the “masters of the universe” types who hype themselves as gurus and keeper of some Gnostic secret they are prepared to share…for a price…like this huckster.
Here are my rules for good business reading:
- Avoid reading books that are actually about “business”. The best insight for solving your business problems are found in the examples of genuinely accomplished and heroic people. Want to learn how to get your boss to take you seriously and break-out of the cube farm, read “Their Finest Hour” by Winston Churchill. It tells the story of how Winston lead Great Britain through the existential threat from Nazi Germany.
- Only listen to people who have actually accomplished something. Read Creativity, Inc by Ed Catmull. He created an art form and one of the most successful movie studios of all time. Heavily discount any book based on reach teams of grad students.
- Favor books that have stood the test of time. If you have time to read only one book this year, it should be The Art of War. If you have time for two…you might consider something on this list.