Bloomberg asked a few prominent Wall-Street types what books were on their reading list. Participants were asked to give one recent book as well as an all time favorite. Never ones to follow the rules, some people have three recommendations.
What strikes me the most is what’s not on these lists. You won’t find The Three Marriages, Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, or any philosophy for that matter. You won’t find any good books on meditation, stillness, or why managing your energy, not time, is the key to high performance. And you also won’t find books about happiness or meaning.
Stephen King says it better than I ever could:
Back in the days when I was an EW regular, I started a column titled ”25 Things That Piss Me Off.” I never finished, because I’m a fairly easygoing guy and I could only think of about a dozen. But on that abbreviated list, right between No. 7 (”When the Junior Mints fall off my toothpick”) and No. 9 (”People who think movies with subtitles are always works of genius”) was this, at No. 8: ”Snobby summer reading lists.” I’m talking about the guy who says he’s going to spend July rereading War and Peace or the woman who insists she’s finally going to dig into the complete works of George Eliot.
Really? Eliot or James Joyce while swinging in the backyard hammock? Maybe somebody thinks that’s the way to spend those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, but not me. … None of these novels will insult your intelligence, but all will take you away to new and interesting places full of excitement, danger, and maybe a few laughs. For me, that — and not A Complete History of Canada in Very Tiny Print — is what summer reading is all about.
Nevertheless there are some gems below.
- Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters
- Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler
- The Discoverers by Daniel J. Boorstin
- Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
- The Wright Brothers by David McCullough (This is the same book that NFL coach Mike Lombardi mentioned to me in our podcast.)
- Bernard Baruch: The Adventures of a Wall Street Legend by James Grant
- Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies, and Three Battles by Bernard Cornwell
- The Shareholder Value Myth: How Putting Shareholders First Harms Investors, Corporations, and the Public by Lynn Stout
- No Ordinary Disruption: The Four Global Forces Breaking All Trends by Richard Dobbs, James Manyika, and Jonathan Woetzel
- Simple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World by Donald Sull and Kathleen M. Eisenhardt
- House of Debt: How They (and You) Caused the Great Recession, and How We Can Prevent It from Happening Again by Atif Mian & Amir Sufi
- The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee
- The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future by Vali Nasr
- A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments by David Foster Wallace
- The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames by Kai Bird
- They Told Me Not to Take that Job: Tumult, Betrayal, Heroics, and the Transformation of Lincoln Center by Reynold Levy
- Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
- Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance
- Poorly Made in China: An Insider’s Account of the China Production Game by Paul Midler