Leading names wrestled with the leading issues of modern corporate life in this year’s crop of business books. This is my selection of the most enlightening, entertaining and useful reads of the year.
David & Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, by Malcolm Gladwell
This was the most anticipated business and economics arrival for 2013. In the five years since his sensational best seller Outliers, Gladwell has continued seeking out the unexpected in business – this time focusing on the paradox of the underdog.
Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, by Sheryl Sandberg
This book was Sandberg’s compelling call to arms for women to put themselves forward in the workplace. The COO of Facebook and former senior executive at Google provides a funny, charming and personal take on the gender debate.
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, by Brad Stone
Ever wondered who owns the cloud – and what they want to do with it? This book is an exceptional insight into a singularly private individual.
The Bet: Paul Ehrlich, Julian Simon, and Our Gamble over Earth’s Future, by Paul Sabin
Sabin provides a genuinely original observation of a small moment in time that is continuing to change our collective future.
Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work and Think, by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier
If “selfie” is the new word for 2013, “Big Data” must be the new phrase. In the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelation about the NSA’s clandestine electronic surveillance and data mining programme, this book explains why anyone might want all that (supposedly) blind data.
Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing, by Hod Lipson and Melba Kurman
One step away from time travel, 3D printing brings the future into the present. Read about it with a burst of childish excitement. This is happening now, people!
The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
Multitasking isn’t fruitful, say authors Keller and Papasan, since success requires long periods of laser-like concentration, not scattershot swats. If you find your “one thing”, they say, everything else will fall into place. Those of us drowning in e-mails will be able to relate to this book.
The Three Rules: How Exceptional Companies Think, by Michael E. Raynor and Mumtaz Ahmed
This book is a superb analysis of best practice in successful businesses. It is not an easy read, but the authors have examined more than 25,000 companies, in hundreds of industries, over 40 years to deliver statistical examples of exceptional work practices.
Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea, by Mark Blyth
Mark Blyth is a faculty fellow at Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. In this book, he gives a no-nonsense summary of why he believes government austerity measures to bring about economic recovery are as plausible “as a unicorn with a bag of magic salt”. His argument presents a great excuse for why we shouldn’t be tightening our belts this holiday season.
The Bankers’ New Clothes: What’s Wrong with Banking and What to Do about It, by Anat Admati and Martin Hellwig
This book provides a fresh take on the too-big-to-fail problem for executives, bankers and policy-makers searching for the naked truth.
Author: Sheridan Jobbins is a journalist and screenwriter.
Image: The Canary Wharf financial district is seen behind a woman as she walks in Greenwich Park in London. REUTERS/Toby Melville