34 Business Books You Won’t Be Able to Put Down
This article originally ran in Term Sheet, Fortune’s newsletter about deals and dealmakers. Sign up here.
Alright, here it is: the book list to end all book lists. I’ve organized your suggestions into sections you can tackle while avoiding your annoying relatives this holiday season.
Thank you to everyone who emailed, tweeted, and even mailed me a real physical book (how did you find me?!). Just in case you’re curious, I’m currently reading, “Titan” by Ron Chernow, “Principles” by Ray Dalio, and a dramatic, tell-all book about “The Bachelor.”
Now, onto your suggestions:
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight:
A Bill Gates (and Term Sheet reader) favorite, Shoe Dog offers an inside look at how Phil Knight built his startup Nike into the global brand it is today.
The Smartest Guys in the Room by Peter Elkind & Bethany McLean
If you’re looking for drama and really good reporting, this is for you. The book-turned-Netflix special details the rise and fall of Enron and was written by two Fortune alums.
Titan by Ron Chernow
John D. Rockefeller has been referred to as “the Jekyll-and-Hyde of American capitalism.” He was a ruthless business magnate while also being a major philanthropist. This one is a business staple.
Too Big to Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin
This is a real-life thriller with a blow-by-blow account of the economic crisis that brought the entire financial world to its knees. It has everything — ego, greed, and fear.
Wild Ride by Adam Lashinsky
Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky wrote about Travis Kalanick, one of the most polarizing figures in Silicon Valley. Lashinsky takes readers on quite a ride as he meticulously details Uber’s meteoric rise — and its jaw-dropping plunge into controversy.
Principles by Ray Dalio
Most people hate conflict, but Ray Dalio thrives on it. He’s built Bridgewater Associates into the world’s biggest hedge fund by encouraging radical transparency and organizational dissent. This book will give you the tools to make decisions, approach challenges, and build strong teams.
Venture Deals by Brad Feld & Jason Mendelson
This one delves into the details of what Term Sheet readers deal with on a daily basis — the term sheet, the players, the negotiations, the legalities, and more. Think of it as a very comprehensive guidebook to understanding venture capital funding.
E Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber
E Myth should be required reading for anyone who wants to start their own company. In this bestseller, Gerber dispels the myths about starting a small business and helps readers take their plans from the ideal to the specific.
Barbarians at the Gate by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar
This book has been called, “one of the finest, most compelling accounts of what happened to corporate America and Wall Street in the 1980s.” The captivating account of the fall of RJR Nabisco still serves as a great cautionary tale about greed and double-dealings.
Den of Thieves by James B. Stewart
This bestseller details the greatest insider-trading ring in financial history and profiles the players who almost walked away with billions. The book combines business, crime, and the ugly side of human nature — what more could you want?
Business Adventures by John Brooks
This is Bill Gates’ favorite book (and he has Warren Buffett’s copy). So if this is good enough for Gates & Buffett, it’s good enough for this list. John Brooks compiled his longform New Yorker articles into this book, which include profiles of Xerox, Ford, and General Electric.
Elon Musk by Ashley Vance
I personally like this book because it delves into the psyche of one of the most innovative (albeit unusual) entrepreneurs of our time. Vance gives readers an exclusive look into SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity, while also giving us a better understanding of Elon Musk’s mind.
Jeff Bezos and The Age of Amazon by Brad Stone
It is mind-boggling to think Amazon started out as an online bookstore. That wasn’t nearly enough for its wildly ambitious founder, Jeff Bezos. This is an in-depth account of how Bezos’ large bets forever transformed the retail industry.
King of Capital by David Carey & John E. Morris
This is a good book to read right after you finish Barbarians at the Gate. It demonstrates how Blackstone and other private equity firms transformed into disciplined, risk-conscious investors — all this while banks were recklessly pushing the economy to the brink of disaster. This book documents the remarkable rise, fall, and rise (again) of Steve Schwarzman and Blackstone.
Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson
You may already know that Franklin was a writer, inventor, media baron, scientist, diplomat, and business strategist, but this is a look into how this country’s ultimate founder helped define America’s national identity.
Zero to One by Peter Thiel
Entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel’s contrarian view that we live in an age of technological stagnation is obviously heavily debated. In this book, he teaches readers to learn to think for themselves and shows them how to win big by avoiding competition.
The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
Ben Horowitz shares words of advice for running a startup, solving tough problems, and managing a growing company. Oh, and he uses rap lyrics to teach complex business lessons in his own personalized way.
The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
In a world of crazy valuations and excess capital, Ries encourages founders to take a more capital-efficient approach to building a company. Throw away the business plan, innovate faster, and build a sustainable startup.
Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss
In his latest book, Tim Ferriss shares the productivity secrets of the more than 200 “world-class performers” he has interviewed on his podcast.
Good to Great by Jim Collins
How can good, mediocre, and even bad companies achieve enduring greatness? In this book, Collins outlines some of the characteristics of the world’s greatest performers and explores how they were able to leave their competitors in the dust.
Earning It by Joann Lublin
As one of the first female reporters at the Wall Street Journal, Joann Lublin knows a thing or two about women shattering the corporate glass ceiling. In this book, she interviews more than 50 female traiblazers who made their mark on their way the top.
First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman
In this bestseller, Gallup presents its findings after studying more than 80,000 managers in pursuit of learning the secret of what separates the greatest leaders from all the rest.
The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
As the greatest investment advisor of the twentieth century, Benjamin Graham’s philosophy of “value investing” has withstood the test of time. It’s also a book that Warren Buffett says “changed his life.”
The Essays of Warren Buffett by Warren Buffett (edited by Lawrence A. Cunningham)
This book is a compilation of Warren Buffett’s annual shareholder letters woven in with his thoughts on investing. What better way to learn than from the Oracle himself?
Grit by Angela Duckworth
Psychologist Angela Duckworth claims success is the result of passion and persistence, not talent and luck. One Term Sheet reader said, “It gets to the heart of why people succeed and most of it is the result of consistent effort.”
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Renowned psychologist Daniel Kahneman conducts a deep analysis of the two cognitive systems that shape the judgments and decisions we make in our everyday lives.
Never Split the Difference by Christopher Voss and Tahl Raz
As an FBI hostage negotiator, Chris Voss has come face-to-face with all sorts of criminals, including kidnappers, bank robbers, and terrorists. In this book, he teaches negotiation tactics that you can use even if your life depended on it.
THE ‘NON-BUSINESS’ BUSINESS BOOKS
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
In this book, Harari explores the unexplored. Humans have started bending laws of natural selection, so he asks some simple but uncomfortable questions: As humans gain the ability to design themselves as well as the world around them, where will this lead our species and what will we become?
Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull & Amy Wallace
Everyone can learn something from Pixar. This book details the story of how the studio behind Inside Out and Toy Story came to dominate the industry of animation. Creativity Inc. has been called “the most thoughtful management book ever.”
Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
Sheryl Sandberg’s raw and heart-wrenching Option B redefined what it means to “lean in.” The phrase takes on a new meaning in this book where she recounts the moment when the rabbi who presided over her husband’s funeral tells her to “lean in to the suck.”
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
This timeless bestseller is the type of book you re-read and take notes on. It will shatter long-standing beliefs you never even thought you held. Carnegie’s strategies and principles are applicable to life and business.
FOR THE ENTERTAINMENT VALUE
Disrupted by Dan Lyons
This is a messy, tell-all account of what happens when a seasoned journalist from an established news magazine takes a job at a software marketing startup. He chronicles his time at Hubspot where he encountered “devilish angel investors, fad-chasing venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and ‘wantrapreneurs.’”
Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis
In the 1980s, liar’s poker was the game you played on Wall Street. Lewis recounts his days as a young, bond salesman working at Salomon Brothers. He gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at the frat-boy world where young men gamble everything on a high-stakes game of deception.
Chaos Monkeys by Antonio Garcia Martinez
This is the Silicon Valley version of Liar’s Poker. It’s a hilarious account of life inside the tech bubble. Garcia Martinez, a former Twitter advisor, Facebook product manager and startup founder, has done some crazy things himself — brewing illegal beer on the Facebook campus, living on a sailboat, and racing sport cars on the 101. This is Silicon Valley in all its glory.
Again, thank you all for your wonderful recommendations. Now, I have a lot of reading to do over the holidays. PS: I also asked my friends on Twitter for more books — you can find them here.
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