BusinessWeek magazine ranks the 15 best selling hardcover and paperback business books in April 2009 andÂ gives a short summary.
1. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. As you’d expect with Gladwell, there are lots of surprises in his explanation of why some people succeed fantastically. Pluck and smarts get less play here than such matters as one’s birth month and access to the right resources at just the right time. There are many points worth pondering in this enjoyable volume.
2 Get Motivated!: Overcome Any Obstacle, Achieve Any Goal and Accelerate Your Success with Motivational DNA by Tamara Lowe. Decode your “motivational DNA,” says business-seminar leader Lowe, and you will be able to overcome any obstacle. But is it true that we are all hardwired differently when it comes to finding inspiration and getting revved up? Lowe’s lessons draw upon the life experiences of such high achievers as Colin Powell, Joe Montana and…Mother Teresa?
3. The Three Laws of Performance: Rewriting the Future of Your Organization and Your Life (J-B Warren Bennis Series) by Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan. If you are looking to rally a company’s employees around a new vision, consultant Zaffron and business professor Logan tell how to “create a future.”
4. The Great Depression Ahead: How to Prosper in the Crash Following the Greatest Boom in History by Harry S. Dent, Jr. Dent’s thing is demographics, and his previous books have aimed at revealing how changes in the U.S. population made a “great boom” inevitable. But those days are gone, he now says: Suddenly, the optimist is a doomsayer. The Roaring 2000s, as he titled a 1998 book, are at an end: Wow, that was a short millennium!
5. The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008 by Paul Krugman. This book was originally published in May of 1999, when the word “depression” was used primarily by historians. Suddenly, the book seems hugely more interesting, and Nobel Prize winner Krugman has also added new material and freshened up his older chapters. The result is a highly readable and provocative take on how we should respond to the current mess.
6.The Big Rich: The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Texas Oil Fortunes by Bryan Burrough. The Big Fourâ€”Roy Cullen, Clint Murchison, Sid Richardson, and H.L. Huntâ€”were schemers and doers, men who just about created an industry in the early days of the 20th century. Burrough, co-author of the business classic Barbarians at the Gate, offers an elegant re-telling of their story, a saga that’s largely forgotten today.
7. Meltdown: A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and Government Bailouts Will Make Things Worse by Thomas E. Woods Jr. If you think that the current financial woes are due more to the Federal Reserve’s actions than to Wall Street finagling, then Woods’ book is for you. The author also joins the list of conservatives who are now piling on the New Deal, saying it worsened rather than ameliorated the Great Depression.
8. 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.”
9. 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!
10. Â 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.
11. Strengths-Based Leadership by Tom Rath. This is the latest of the “strengths movement” titles, all of which aim at helping readers recognize and polish their true talents. Here, the authors say they identify keys to leadership and help executives build effective teams.
12. Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World by Liaquat Ahamed. Investment manager Ahamed says the Great Depression was caused not by a confluence of many events but by the efforts of European central bankers to fight off inflation and to return the world to the gold standard. It’s compelling history with interesting lessons for our time.
13. What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis. Guardian columnist, blogger, and journalism prof Jarvis imagines a world run according to the principles of search-engine extraordinaire Google. What if the auto companies invited interactivity, involving drivers in the design of cars? What if airlines made many decisions on the basis of social networking? The answers to these and other questions are intriguing and informative.
14. 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.
15. 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.