Arts and Culture

From climate to cybercrime - these are 15 of the best business books of 2021

this man here is reading a book; the Financial Times has recommended 15 of the best business books to read

The Financial Times whittled hundreds of business books down to a list of just 15. Image: Unsplash/Aaron Owens

Victoria Masterson
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  • The Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award 2021 has released its longlist.
  • Authors include former chief executives, climate scientists, economists and journalists.
  • Topics range from fraud and social mobility to cyberwars and racism.
  • The winning book will be announced on 1 December.
  • The World Economic Forum’s Book Club allows members to connect with authors.

In a year of COVID-19, climate change and cyber crime – amongst other issues – where does the business world stand?

Financial Times journalists have worked their way through a record-breaking 600 entries to the FT and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award and whittled them down to a longlist of 15. Topics covered include everything from science and saving the Earth, to spies and social mobility.

Here’s a taster of the top reads.

these are the book covers of some of the Financial Times' top reads
The FT's top 15 business books. Image: Financial Times

A blow-by-blow account of the race to create effective COVID-19 vaccines.

The climate scientist argues that progress on climate change has been held back by businesses with vested interests – but that it’s not too late to effect real change.

This book takes a deep – and uncomfortable – dive into the fashion industry, by following the journey of a pair of jeans from manufacture to market and then landfill.

A look at how businesses can profit by fixing the world’s problems instead of creating them, from a former chief executive of Unilever and a sustainable business expert.

The director of the London School of Economics outlines her vision for a new social contract to tackle our changing world.


If you want to read the inside story of commodity traders who buy, amass and sell the Earth’s resources – from oil to metal – this book is for you.

A detailed study of the cyberweapons threatening global computer systems and the criminals, spies and hackers behind them.

A true tale of alleged fraud that charts a financier’s fall from grace and reveals the private equity industry’s darker side.

The story of the Sackler dynasty, famous for its philanthropy, that was revealed to be behind the addictive painkiller OxyContin.

The economist offers an alternative to the Silicon Valley model of growth and argues that there are other ways for communities, cities and regions to foster innovation.

Have you read?

An argument in favour of meritocracy, how it’s been derailed in recent years, and why it’s still the best way to promote social mobility.

A Harvard social psychologist lays out a roadmap for people, businesses and communities to take action on racism and bias.

Practical tips for both employees and businesses on how best to adjust to the new world of distributed and hybrid work.

The inside story of how co-working company WeWork went from Silicon Valley darling to stock market disaster.

An exploration of ‘flawed human judgement’ and how it adversely impacts fields from economic forecasting to forensic science.

A global book club

The Business Book of the Year 2021 Award shortlist will be announced on 23 September, while the winner will be announced on 1 December.


What is the World Economic Forum's Book Club?

In the meantime, the World Economic Forum runs its own Book Club on Facebook, discussing one book every month.

Authors are invited to respond to readers’ questions, giving members a chance to directly connect with some of the world’s most influential thinkers and experts.

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