I have reviewed many books on this website, including some of my favorite business books. But people keep asking me for a list, so here in one place is a list, including books I have reviewed and books I have not reviewed. With 50,000 books in my own library, and a few million I do not own, this is not an easy task. If you order these books through the links on the website, you will help support my efforts to offer free reviews and information. Many more books are reviewed in my diverse posts on hooversworld.
I always believe it is important to first get context for understanding any subject. Know where you (and your company and industry) are coming from. Since I recently began working at the University of Texas, my last amazon shipment contained three histories of American higher education. How could you even hope to understand what’s happening today and tomorrow unless you first understand how you got to where you’re at?
The first book to read to grasp how American business evolved is The Visible Hand, by the late Alfred Chandler, reviewed in more depth here: http://hooversworld.com/archives/2871. Chandler wrote several books on business history; if you are interested in international business, read Scale and Scope after you read The Visible Hand. Perhaps lighter reading to study some of the great business people and entrepreneurs: They Made America by Harold Evans and Masters of Enterprise by HW Brands. If you want to look up virtually any of the greats, go to a library or buy a used copy of the 4-volume Biographical Dictionary of American Business Leaders by John Ingham (new copies are $682.95, even on amazon; try www.abebooks.com for used copies.)
Bill Gates has said that if you are going to read only one book about business, read My Years with General Motors by Alfred P. Sloan. I consider myself a "Sloanite," in the footsteps of the greatest manager the world has yet known. And I agree with Bill! Read this book to capture the excitement of a new industry, and how this company mastered that industry.
There are many interesting histories of individual companies and industries, such as The Emperors of Chocolate by Joel Glenn Brenner (http://hooversworld.com/archives/3036). If you would like my recommendations on any given company or industry, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will help if I can, and often I can!
If you want to understand what the great business thinkers wrote and spoke about, there are a number of guides to management gurus. My own pick is The Capitalist Philosophers: The Geniuses of Modern Business by Andrea Gabor.
But the main man to study is Peter Drucker. Every year that goes by, I learn more from this man, and marvel at his vision. He had an uncanny ability to understand economics, business (which is very different from econ), sociology, demography, and all the other arts and sciences which bear on enterprise success. And he delicately knit all those together; he was one smart guy. He wrote so much, it can be hard to know where to start, but I would suggest The Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker’s Essential Writings on Management (the best $12.57 you will ever spend) and Innovation and Entrepreneurship (the best book on those subjects; see http://hooversworld.com/archives/2991). The Daily Drucker is also a nice volume to have around.
Behind Drucker, three management bestsellers were bestsellers for a reason: In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman and Jim Collins’ two books Built to Last (with Jerry Porras) and Good to Great.
While you are thinking about business, don’t miss one of the most provocative books ever, Poor Charlie’s Almanack by Charles Munger, “the brains behind Warren Buffett,” which I reviewed at http://hooversworld.com/archives/2740.
If you want to understand the key ideas of marketing, there is no better book than Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout (http://hooversworld.com/archives/2873). There are a ton of books about current trends and marketing issues; two of my favorites are The Experience Economy by B. Joseph Pine and James Gilmore (http://hooversworld.com/archives/2591) and The Long Tail by Chris Anderson (http://hooversworld.com/archives/3025).
Lastly, you probably know I don’t think you can understand business in a vacuum. Every enterprise takes place in a bigger world, a world of geography and history, politics and economics, sociology and psychology. I especially rely on reference books to help guide me through this world. (To learn why it is so important to know more than just business, check out A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink http://hooversworld.com/archives/2990.)
So any smart business person would be remiss not to own the following books:
· For world geography, Realms Regions and Concepts by Harm De Blij et. al. (http://hooversworld.com/archives/2777).
· Key data and statistics – three books: http://hooversworld.com/archives/2895.
· Good world atlases: http://hooversworld.com/archives/2996.
· Understanding America and politics: http://hooversworld.com/archives/3147.
· Getting a good liberal arts education on your own: http://hooversworld.com/archives/2932.
Good luck in your learning – and please send me your comments and suggestions. I am always ready to discover new sources of information and ideas.