Want to be smarter about business? Reading about it can’t hurt. Lots of successful people swear by business books, including incredibly rich people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. But there are a lot of business books out there and life is short—or, time is money. So what should you read?
The Financial Times and McKinsey shortlist for best business book of the year, released on Sept. 7, is probably a good place to start. Impressive in its variety, the list includes books on economics, history, management, and personal finance. Also featured: a hefty biography, a guide to managing gender equality in the workplace, and a guide to what the world looks like when everyone is living to 100.
What Works: Gender Equality by Design, by Iris Bohnet. Bohent, a behavioral economist at Harvard, explains how businesses can confront gender inequality, using real examples from companies and governments around the world.
Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built, by Duncan Clark. Clark, a former Beijing-based investment banker, uses the rise of Ma and the creation of China’s biggest e-commerce company to tell the story of entrepreneurship in China.
Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business, by Rana Foroohar. A columnist at Time, Foroohar examines how investment banks have promoted, and profited from, the “financialisation of America,” at the expense of Main Street business and the American people.
The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War, by Robert J. Gordon. Gordon, an economist at Northwestern, makes the case that America’s last century growth was powered by waves of innovation from 1870 to 1970 that can’t be replicated. You can read a Quartz interview with Gordon here.
The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity, by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott. The authors teach economics and psychology at London Business School, and they use the premise that half of all children born in the developed world today will live to be 100 to challenge our notions about our work, families and retirement when we live for a century.
The Man Who Knew: The Life and Times of Alan Greenspan, by Sebastian Mallaby. In his immense biography of the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, Mallaby, a journalist and economic fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, examines Greenspan’s life, from disciple of Ayn Rand and advisor to Nixon to the widely revered sage who presided over the great rise, and enormous crash, of the American economy.