I'm not quite sure how I ended up with the habit of reading business books.
Well, that's not quite right. I know how I started. Library Journal had an opening for business and economics book reviewers, and I wanted to review for Library Journal, so I applied for it. Then I just started reading business books I didn't have to review, because I thought they would give me insight into the business world. This is something I could use, as I totally don't understand the business world. I mean, I understand it, in that I believe most businesses nowadays are out to screw me (telephone and internet service company, I'm looking at you), and I know from knowing salespeople that one of their favorite methods is to mirror your physical actions and motions so you feel more comfortable around them and are therefore more amenable to their sales pitches.* But real insight, I thought, would be a useful thing.
I don't know that I've gained a lot of insight over the years of reading business titles. But I have found this: when I find a good business book, it's always a book that really gets to me, or completely changes my thinking, or opens my eyes to some new ideas. Sometimes they even make me laugh. And that's worth something, even if I have to read or look at 100 books to find one good one.**
Take a book like Jonathan Pond's Safe Money in Tough Times: Everything You Need to Know to Survive the Financial Crisis. It's a fantastic book (I put it on the Library Journal Best Business Books list this year, and it was one of the picks I felt most strongly about) and if you want to know more about the financial mess we're in OR some great, common-sense ways to approach your own earning, saving, and investing, this is the book for you. In addition to finding it useful, I also found the author's clear-eyed approach to the world enjoyable. This was my favorite part of the whole book:
"Reevaluate any contemplated major purchases, such as a home, home improvements, or an automobile, in light of the current economic situation. While the economy may benefit from these purchases, it may make sense to postpone them. (You can rely on other members of your community to boost the economy by buying things they neither need nor can afford.)" (p. 14.)
Come on. Even if it's in a how-to business book, that's funny. So that's why I hang in there on the business books. Every now and then, as in John Bowe's Nobodies, Ben Mezrich's The Accidental Billionaires***, and Paul Midler's Poorly Made in China (as well as anything written by Michael Lewis), they actually open my mind in ways I never expected. So do consider a business book this weekend. It may not make you happy, but it might blow your mind OR give you a laugh. Both good things.
**Really, that's about the ratio.
***About the founder of Facebook, who is icky, and who could care less about your privacy, especially if he can sell it for profit.