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Business Books: They read them so you don't have to
NEW YORK |
NEW YORK (Reuters) - More than 11,000 business books are published every year in the United States, so where does a reader begin?
Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten, who read countless titles each year, have boiled all the business books ever written down to "The 100 Best Business Books of All Time" (Portfolio, $25.95).
"The endless stream of new books requires a filter to help discern the good and the better from the absolute best," according to the authors, who together run a company called 800-CEO-READ, where they review and recommend books for the business community.
They came up with their list by asking the same questions about every book: Does the author make a good argument? Is there something new to what he or she is presenting? Does the idea align or contradict with what we know about business? And finally, can this idea be used to make business better?
"Sitting at the educational crossroads between 'Let's hire a consultant' and 'I know nothing about this,' business books contain a high value proposition for the $20 and two hours spent," they say.
Then they assessed each book for its relevance in business and its accessibility -- good ideas in poorly written books did not make the cut.
And this leads to some surprising results.
While many best sellers like "Good to Great" by Jim Collins make the list, many do not, including "Winning" by former GE (GE.N) chief and leadership guru Jack Welch.
And rather than Welch's memoir "Jack, Straight from the Gut," Covert and Sattersten offer "Who Says Elephants Can't Dance," Lou Gerstner's tale of his time at the helm of IBM (IBM.N).
Instead of "Freakonomics," the offbeat look at economics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, they suggest "The Wisdom of Crowds" by James Surowiecki.
The list does not rank the picks. Instead it divides them into 12 sections, including management, biographies, leadership, strategy, entrepreneurship and big ideas, among others.
Business lessons can be learned from fiction, Covert and Sattersten maintain, even from Dr. Seuss, whose opus "Oh, the Places You'll Go," makes the section on self-improvement.
And what about what is perhaps the earliest business book? This is what Covert and Sattersten have to say: "For all the love we have for Adam Smith, we didn't select "The Wealth of Nations" and its 900 pages because of the sheer magnitude of the undertaking."
(Editing by Brian Moss)
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