Business books are better than books about business.
Books about business tell clean stories, often from an outsider’s perspective, on why things came to be. Books about business share anecdotes and quotes that are jammed into chapters like sardines, often failing to point out all the what ifs.
The what ifs are the most interesting part of business.
This became crystal clear to me after reading Netflixed: The Epic Battle for America’s Eyeballs. Netflix’s rise to dominance is only obvious with the passage of time. Nothing was preordained. A million things had to go right and a million things could have gone wrong.
That’s not to say books about business aren’t good, in fact, I learned a lot from these:
- Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t*
- Outliers: The Story of Success
- Blockbusters: Hit-Making, Risk-Taking, and the Big Business of Entertainment
- New Ideas from Dead CEOs: Lasting Lessons from the Corner Office
- The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail (Management of Innovation and Change)*
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change*
- The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses*
- Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas that Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries
- Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World
- The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google
- Zero to One: Notes on Startups or How to Build the Future*
But if I had to recommend you start somewhere, this list of business books contains some of the best that I’ve ever read:
- The Fish that Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America’s Banana King
- Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco
- Creativity, Inc: Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration
- Only the Paranoid Survive
- The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation
- Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years of Lockheed
- The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company
- Go Like Hell: Ford Versus Ferrari, and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans
- Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber
- Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup
- Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley
- Never Lost Again: The Google Mapping Revolution That Sparked New Industries and Augmented Our Reality
Thank you for reading, and I hope everybody has a great Thanksgiving with their family.