Contrary to belief, it’s a fantastic time for business books. Away from cookie-cutter guides to making millions in just two hours a week, there’s a wide range of superb writing out there on the topic of business. From narrative non-fiction, charting the rise of economic powerhouses, to explorations of concepts and well-written evaluations of cutting-edge research, there’s something for professionals and onlookers alike.
Whether you’re stealing a few minutes out in the sun on your lunch break or kicking back on annual leave (secretly prepping for your next promotion), we’ve pulled together a list of our favourite business books that provide fascinating insight and expert knowledge in equal measure.
The Airbnb Story by Leigh Gallagher
Business writing doesn’t have to be what you imagine it to be. There’s fantastic stories out there and the one behind hotel-crushing behemoth Airbnb is certainly one of the best. Credit must go to Leigh Gallagher in this instance. What’s especially fascinating about this book is not just the tale of two guys who made the most of a San Francisco tech conference, but also the genuine insight from all of the hosts and users along the way.
As much a book about business as the specific actors that make up one, Gallagher’s succinctly-told tale of entrepreneurial success reads as a captivating piece of long-form non-fiction. Don’t be fooled though, there’s lessons to be gleaned here for budding billionaires.
£9.18 for paperback; amazon.co.uk
Big Potential by Shawn Achor
Like many of the authors on this list, Achor’s resume is one that demands respect. Author of ‘The Happiness Advantage”, a TED Talker boasting over 16m views and a client list including nearly half of the Fortune 100 across 50 countries – when Achor talks, the business world listens.
Achor’s latest book, “Big Potential” is another instant classic from one of the world’s foremost experts on human potential. Hanging on the premise that ours and society’s emphasis on solo success caps our ability to achieve, Achor presents his findings on the importance of viewing success within a team, emphasising the power of lifting a group, championing working environments that play to everyone’s strengths and how praise should be shared and built upon. Pro tip: accidentally leave a copy in your manager’s office.
£10.74 for paperback; blackwells.co.uk
The Pomodoro Technique by Francesco Cirillo
Now, we’re not here to put bets down, but if it came to it, we would put money on The Pomodoro Technique improving the productivity of most office-based businesses. Francesco Cirillo’s method likely wouldn’t work in other environments, but in an office where procrastination is rife and focus can easily tail off, “The Pomodoro Technique” is a godsend.
You’ve got to do it properly though. Based around a method of 25 minute bursts of work with five minute breaks in-between, coinciding with a properly planned and explicit set of the day’s tasks (broken up into small manageable chunks if need be), this egg timer-based method of ensuring productivity really does work and would benefit both freelancers and large office teams alike.
£17.99 for audio book; audible.co.uk
The CEO Next Door by Elena Bothelo, Kim R. Powell & Tahl Raz
What makes a good CEO? Spoiler alert: It’s not necessarily the Gordon Gekko, contrast collar-shirted alpha male stereotype that looks back at you from the pages of the Wall Street Journal. In fact, it’s pretty much never those people. Elena Bothelo should know, her and her team have done the research. And by research, we’re talking a sample group of 18,000 CEOs over 20 years. “The CEO Next Door” unsurprisingly makes for interesting reading.
Using unrivalled research across industries high and low (in partnership with the University of Chicago), Bothelo et al. cut to the core of what makes a successful CEO with page after page of fascinating insight.
£9.99 for Kindle edition; amazon.co.uk
Captivate by Vanessa Van Edwards
“Captivate” is a book that will make for intriguing reading for some or a life manual for others. In an age of largely digital communication, especially in the workplace (Slack, anyone?), a book on the importance of social interaction and how to best navigate this in business scenarios makes for a surprising page turner.
With advice on reading body language, where the best place is to stand at a business conference (she maps it out for you, genius) or how to get the most out of interactions during a presentation, “Captivate” is a handy guide for maximising your social potential in a business environment.
£9.18 for paperback; amazon.co.uk
The Joy of Work by Bruce Daisley
Bruce Daisley’s latest book is one to help you achieve what on Monday morning might seem like the impossible: happiness in the daily grind. Having previously been at the helm of tech titans including Google, Youtube and Twitter, Daisley knows a few things about improving workplace culture and his latest book follows on from his wildly popular podcast, Eat Sleep Work Repeat.
Central to “The Joy of Work” is a fascination with the workplace and conversations with a variety of experts on how to make it better. Touching upon isolation, mental health, communication and, yes, sleep pods, Daisley’s obsession with the workplace and subsequent quest to explore ways to make it better is an enjoyable read.
£14.99 for hardback; blackwells.co.uk
Alchemy by Rory Sutherland
According to Rory Sutherland, people are not guided by logic. “Psycho-logic” is what leads the people to their decisions, says the former advertising man, and his book Alchemy: The Surprising Power of Ideas That Don’t Make Sense, sets out to apply that notion. The resultant jaunt is a measured and intriguing attack on the insistence in economics circles that we’re all rational beings.
Entertaining and well-written, Sutherland cites examples from his own advertising days to back up his claims as well as fascinating and irrational moves in the business sphere that may have seemed stupid, but were ultimately extremely lucrative.
Well worth reading, Alchemy is a book providing an alternative look at the way in which human decision-making drives business.
£8.79 for paperback; amazon.co.uk
Capitalism in America by Alan Greenspan & Adrian Wooldridge
Listen, if you want to really learn something, read this book. This is a real beast of economic history from two titans of the game. From the original colonies to collapse and rebirth, Greenspan and Wooldridge’s all-encompassing economic history of the land of the brave and home of the free is a must read for anyone with even a fleeting interest in politics or economics.
Charting the figures, the innovations, the disasters and the sheer destruction of such a colossal economic development, America is described with sheer awe but also an understandable weariness. A fantastic primer ahead of the next presidential election. You’ve got to know where you’ve been to know where you’re going.
£12.99 for Kindle edition; amazon.co.uk
Give People Money by Annie Lowrey
Radical and provocative, Annie Lowrey’s exploration of Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a must read. A truly fascinating concept in itself, Lowrey elegantly considers the impacts, the proposals, controversies, aims and costs of such a dramatic economic policy and gets to the bottom of what is essentially a concept at odds with our economic identity – something for nothing.
Easy to read and a page turner throughout, Give People Money is prime holiday reading material – leaving you well versed on a topic that so often gets over-talked and under-explained down the pub.
£11.34 for paperback; amazon.co.uk
New Power by Jeremy Heimans & Henry Timms
Now is the time to start looking at the new leaders in business, politics and beyond. With global titans like Facebook and Google taking centre stage and – whether they like it or not – transcending into a variety of new arenas, New Power by Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms is a timely spotlight on dramatic recent trends and the drivers behind them.
Taking into account political movers and shakers, including Trump’s earthquake election, new platforms like Uber and the eruption of social movements like #metoo and Black Lives Matter, New Power is a crucial read for those trying to understand how we’ve got to where we are and where power is ebbing and flowing.
£6.69 for paperback; wordery.com