The 10 top-selling business books

Organised minds, Soviet negotiation techniques and Simon Sinek feature in this month's top reads.

by Adam Gale
Last Updated: 28 Nov 2019

While in our experience it has become rare to find a fully-stocked bookshelf in a chief executive’s office, it would be incorrect to assume that CEOs don’t read. Free time may be precious at the top, but reading is hardly an idle pastime. 

Indeed, the best leaders tend to have a curiosity for new ideas (and new people) that tends to draw them to intelligent books, podcasts and conversation.

If you’re looking for ideas for what to read next, we regularly interview business leaders for their personal recommendations (here are recent examples from Salesforce’s Paul Smith and Starling Bank’s Anne Boden), while every month we’ll publish the top-selling business books, courtesy of Waterstones. 

Here’s the list for November.

1. Shoe Dog: a Memoir by the Creator of Nike

Phil Knight (Simon & Schuster)

A masterclass in branding from the the US sportswear giant's iconoclastic founder (review here).

2. Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping our Future 

Ashlee Vance (Ebury Publishing)

Musk’s enigmatic single-mindedness has helped him transform the automotive and space sectors. It doesn’t hurt when shifting biographies either.

3. The Kremlin School of Negotiation

Igor Ryzov (author) and Alex Fleming (translator) (Canongate Books)

There is, naturally, a manual in Moscow for how to get what you want. Lesson one: don’t be afraid to say nyet.

4. The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload 

Daniel Levitin (Penguin Books)

The overwhelming distractions of the modern age can make clear decision-making tricky. Neuroscientist Levitin offers some cutting-edge techniques for keeping on top of your mental in-tray.

5. The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance and the Art of Living: featuring new translations of Seneca, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius 

Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman (Profile Books)

Timeless wisdom on how to live a better life. Puts the rat race in perspective. 

6. The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich 

Timothy Ferriss (Ebury Publishing)

There are lots of books suggesting ways of doing more in less time, but four hours a week takes the biscuit.

7. Black Box Thinking: Marginal Gains and the Secrets of High Performance 

Matthew Syed (John Murray Press)

Former table tennis pro Syed explores how to have a healthy - and immensely productive - relationship with failure.

8. What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School

Mark H McCormack (Profile Books)

A cut-the-crap business education from the doyenne of professional sports management.

9. Bullshit Jobs: The Rise of Pointless Work, and What We Can Do About It

David Graeber (Penguin Books)

Does a hamster in a wheel know they’re a hamster in a wheel?

10. The Club: How the Premier League Became the Richest, Most Disruptive Business in Sport

Jonathan Clegg and Joshua Robinson (John Murray Press) 

As our feature on the subject explores, the English Premier League has become one of the UK’s most successful exports.

Image credit: Bettmann / Contributor

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