I try to read both fiction and non-fiction. Most of my non-fiction reading is history. But sometimes I also read business books (e.g. The Little Book of Valuation, Secrets of Question Based Selling). Sometimes I even read books that are a little of both. Here are my five favorite business books, in no particular order:
- The Smartest Guys in the Room by Bethany McLean – The rise and fall of Enron in epic fashion. Also a powerful illustration of how divergent accounting earnings and business can become when investors, analysts and media fall prey to hype.
- When Genius Failed by Roger Lowenstein – This is the story of the world’s most famous hedge fund meltdown, and an example of “experts” being too smart for their own good (see also #5 below).
- Barbarians at the Gate by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar – Specifically this is a book about the leveraged buyout of RJR Nabisco. But in a much broader sense it’s also about the massive change in corporate cultures that occurred in the 1980s, and how dangerous it is for successful organizations to allow stability to turn into complacency.
- The Prize by Daniel Yergin – Everything you would ever need (or want) to know about the history of the oil business.
- Fooled By Randomness by Nicholas Nassim Taleb – More of a collection of essay-like musings, Taleb argues evolution has programmed us to make really poor financial decisions.