2017’s top business books

It’s that time of year when ‘best of’ shortlists are published – ‘best hotel’, ‘best ad campaign’, ‘best sports personality’. Business books are no exception; and it’s gratifying for an author to see people on trains and tubes reading actual books, often hardback (did I tell you I’ve written two books? OK. Just checking).

Books make great gifts, and I’m definitely including a few in this year’s ‘Dear Santa…’ wish list. My go-to listing for deciding what to read next is the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), who thoughtfully categorise their shortlist of 25 books into 5 categories:

Practical Manager – interesting to see Kouzes & Posner’s classic ‘The Leadership Challenge’ on this list; now in its sixth edition, I think it’s still an essential read.

Management Futures – the detailed account of how The John Lewis Partnership does business takes my fancy in this category.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship – themes of creativity and ideas along with starting up and managing growth.

Commuter’s Read – these titles must meet the criteria of being able to inspire, inform and engage commuters (in other words, be able to tear them away from their phones).

New Manager – here CMI shortlists titles that will best support a new manager on a course of study. They all look good to me, whether studying or not.

Taking a look at other 2017 ‘best business books’ shortlists, four titles crop up consistently:

‘Janesville: an American Story’ by Amy Goldstein, has been awarded FT/McKinsey Book of the Year (a rather lucrative prize). Goldstein, a Pulitzer prize-winner, sets out what happened when General Motors closed their Janesville factory. Top of my list. Santa please note.

‘The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century (The Princeton Economic History of the Western World’ by Walter Scheidel struck me (on a quick look) as one for the economists. it’s not on my ‘Dear Santa’ list (although I think there’s a more popular version that needs to be written) but it was on the same FT/McKinsey and strategy+business shortlists as ‘Janesville’ hence I’ve included it here.

Fans of the iPhone will be snapping up ‘The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone’ by Brian Merchant. This one also figured on several lists and may find its way into husband’s Christmas stocking (with highlights already added where ‘phone addiction’ is discussed).

A chronicle of scams, backstabbing and bankers is ‘The Spider Network The Wild Story of a Maths Genius, a Gang of Backstabbing Bankers, and One of the Greatest Scams in Financial History’ (gosh, isn’t that long) by David Enrich.

Interestingly, these classics are still flying high in Amazon’s business listings:

‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ by Daniel Khaneman.

‘The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People’ by Stephen R. Covey.

‘Good to Great’ by Jim Collins (the follow up to ‘Built to Last’ which Collins co-wrote with Jerry Porras).

If you need some impetus – and networking – with your reading CPD, you can always join a book club. There are heaps of book Meetups; for example, here’s the listing of Meetups in London for business book readers.

Alternatively you can form a business book group with fellow bookworms at work, or with alumni from university or a professional course.

My top tip for remembering what on earth the book was about? Write a summary or book review.



Dawn is the author of ‘The Feedback Book’, available now at bookstores and on Amazon.

Image credit: Hand drawn books shelves collection – @ NadineVeresk/DepositPhotos


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