BusinessWeek ranks business books that are the most recent bestsellers and provides a short summary.
1. The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder. The author is a former Morgan Stanley insurance analyst who had unprecedented access to the legendary investor during her five years of research. The resulting book is a very penetrating and personal portrait. Buffett comes across as an obsessive man who knew what he wanted and how to get there from an early age: his prize possession as a child was a metal coin changer, and he determined in his youth to become a millionaire by age 35. In addition, the volume offers a vivid picture of the Buffett family, including his parents and his two wives.
2. Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution–and How It Can Renew America by Thomas L. Friedman. New York Times columnist Friedman offers an urgent plea to unleash U.S. creativityâ€”and capitalismâ€”on the challenges of energy, climate change, and world population growth. “I am convinced that the public is ready,” he writesâ€”“they’re ahead of the politicians.”
3. StrengthsFinder 2.0: A New and Upgraded Edition of the Online Test from Gallup’s Now, Discover Your Strengths by Tom Rath. Are you unsure where your true talents lie? Do you feel that you are both a person who gets things done and someone who offers penetrating analysis? Well, you can discover whether you are truly an “achiever” or an “analytical” by completing the online quiz. Then, the book will give you “ideas for action” and tips for how best you can work with others. More of a patiencetester than Strengthsfinder, the quiz/book is probably best for those who have lots of time on their hands.
4. Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin. The Internet can help locate and expand a “tribe,” or group of people connected to each other and to an idea. But every tribe needs leadershipâ€”and you can become that leaderâ€¦so long as you have the helpful advice of marketing writer Godin, author of such previous marketing books as Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable and Permission Marketing : Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers.
5. Who: The A Method for Hiring by Geoff Smart and Randy Street. Or perhaps the subtitle is “Solve Your #1 Problem”: It doesn’t inspire lots of confidence when a book has a different title on the cover from that on the internal title page. Anyway, the young authors are executives at management assessment firm ghSMART, and their book purports to teach how you can improve your hiring success rates, generate “a flow of A Players,” and attract and keep top talent. You have lots of choices nowadaysâ€”just consider the unemployment lines.
6. The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss. Ferriss isn’t shy about tooting his own horn: He says he “speaks six languages, runs a multinational firm from wireless locations worldwide, and has been a world-record holder in tango, a national champion in kickboxing, and an actor in a hit television series in Hong Kong.” Is this the sort of person you really want to be taking advice from? Anyway, Ferris offers recommendations and resources for everything from eliminating wasted time to oursourcing your job and getting cheap airfare. Discover your dreams and live them!
7. The New Paradigm for Financial Markets: The Credit Crisis of 2008 and What It Means by. George Soros. To understand the current financial crisis, says investor philanthropist Soros, we need a new paradigm that breaks with the old truism that financial markets tend toward equilibrium. Here, he expands upon his “theory of reflexitivity,” discussed in previous books. In this case, his insight suggests that “every bubble consists of a trend and a misconception that interact in a reflexive manner.” In other words (I think), we have trouble seeing the world as it is because we are simultaneously engaged in trying to shape it. The New Paradigm is compactâ€”but don’t mistake it for an airplane read.
8. The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. You probably don’t realize it, but life is a series of highly improbable yet earthshaking events. That’s the argument of The Black Swan, which in many ways is a re-do of the author’s 2001 best-seller, Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets. The highly entertaining new book, though, is longer, better-grounded, and with more advice about how to live in the presence of deep unpredictability. The core of The Black Swan argues that economists, journalists, and corporate planners behave as if they’re living in predictable “Mediocristan” when they’re really in “Extremistan.” It’s a richly enjoyable read with an important message.
9. The Little Book of Bull Moves in Bear Markets: How to Keep Your Portfolio Up When the Market is Down (Little Books. Big Profits) by Peter D. Schiff. Wiley’s “Little Book” series this time features “Dr. Doom,” Peter Schiff, who is also head of investment adviser Euro Pacific Capital. Chapters include “Weathering the Storm,” “A Decade of Frugality,” and “Light at the End of the Tunnel.” Timely stuff, I’m sorry to have to say.
10. Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy by Martin Lindstrom. Lindstrom is a Danish marketing consultant, and here he offers a digression-prone investigation of the hot trend of “neuromarketing,” which utilizes brain scans to investigate just what turns consumers on. There’s not enough about the latest research in this book, which instead offers a broad tour of marketing. And many of the book’s conclusions, along with those of neuromarketers, are open to debate.
11. The Ten Roads to Riches: The Ways the Wealthy Got There (And How You Can Too!) (Fisher Investments Press) by Ken Fisher and Lara Hoffmans. Forbes columnist Fisher knows whereof he speaks, but with this volume enters Kiyosaki territory. You can emulate Rupert Murdochâ€”and rapper Jay-Z! Or maybe you can marry into wealth! Ten paths to the pot of gold.
12. The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems by Van Jones. Jones is the founder of Green For All, an advocacy organization that promotes green investment as a fix for the current economic crisis. This manifesto argues for “a Green New Deal” supported by an alliance of labor, environmentalists, students, and more. Many activists and writers are offering similar analyses these days, but Jones’s book provides an accessible version complete with a list of resources for change.
13. The World Is Curved: Hidden Dangers to the Global Economy by David M. Smick. Financial crises have become ever more global, observes consultant Smick, who is also publisher of the quarterly newsletter The International Economy. And today, the “incredible shrinking central banks” may no longer have the power to save us, he says. Smick offers a tour of how today’s risky environment came into being and considers just how back things could really get.
15. The Partnership: The Making of Goldman Sachs by Charles D. Ellis. A juicy, vivid chronicle of the legendary Wall Street firm that has produced the likes of Robert Rubin and Henry Paulson. Starting as a mid-19th century sole proprietorship that dealt in commercial paper, Goldman overcame numerous perils over the years to become one of the most successful business organizations in the world. Former strategy consultant Ellis’ account revels in the firm’s host of colorful characters.