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Best Business Books of 2011

Looking back on the best business books of 2011 not only provides great ideas for reading material but also allows us to view the top news stories and political issues of the year through a business lens.  Several sources published their picks for the best business books of 2011 (see the links for the lists consulted for this article below). The following books were featured in several lists and deserve special recognition.

 Poor Economics: A radical rethinking of the way to fight global poverty, by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo won the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year award.  This award, which began in 2005, seeks to honor "the most compelling and enjoyable insight into modern business issues."



 Another title included on several of the lists this year was Good Strategy, Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why it Matters by Richard P. Rumelt. Does your organization have a strategy?  The author argues that most strategies are at best bad, and at worst not even strategies at all.  Rumelt, with a 40-year career in the field of strategy, shows how insight on the truth about your business situation can help your organization develop the good strategy it needs to succeed.


 The biography of Apple CEO and founder Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson was another highly-praised business title, and proved to be a very timely one in the wake of Jobs' recent death.  Based on 40 interviews over the span of two years, with Jobs as well as family, friends and colleagues, this book provides an honest look at this technological pioneer.  



 Another biography that also topped several business lists was Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow.  Though not an immediately obvious business choice, Washington's life provides a portrait of leadership applicable to the boardroom as well as the battlefield.



 What is it that makes certain people or brands enchanting?  Former Apple executive Guy Kawasaki explains how in Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions.  Find out how to go beyond engagement with friends, colleagues and customers to create a delightful, deep, long-lasting and voluntary relationship.



 How many times each day do you "Google" something?  Steven Levy's In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works and Shapes Our Lives provides a fascinating history of the company so entrenched in our daily lives.



 Another brand ubiquitous in our daily lives, whether passing an outlet on our way to work or indulging in one of its multisyllabic products, is portrayed in Onward: How Starbucks Fought For Its Life Without Losing Its Soul by Howard Schultz and Joanne Gordon.



The lists of top business books also gave us some new vocabulary!  Try Spousonomics: Using Economics to Master Love, Marriage and Dirty Dishes by Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson to learn how thinking like an economist can save your marriage.  Explore how Locavesting: The Revolution in Local Investing and How To Profit From It by Amy Cortese can revitalize small business and strengthen local economies.  Wonder why you can't stop thinking about the latest smartphone? Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy by Martin Lindstrom reveals the psychological methods companies use to get us to part with our hard-earned dollars.






Lists Reviewed:

The 2011 Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award was established in 2005 and looks at business in the broader sense.  Past awards tend to highlight books that provide a unique perspective on global financial trends.

strategy + business magazine's Best Business Books 2011 takes into account the wide reach that business plays in our lives, awarding top books in the categories of Ethics and Aspirations, Strategy, Management, Economics, Marketing, Leadership and Technology.

Bloomberg's Top Business Books also show an understanding of the broad category of Business, defining books into the separate categories Crisis Books, General Business, and Economics Titles.

Marketplace from American Public Media asked their regular contributors to select their favorite business title.

OPEN Forum from American Express published their Best Business Books of 2011, compiled from their weekly book review column Guru Review.

Library Journal's Best Books 2011: Business pulls from reviews compiled throughout the year.

Booklist Online's Top 10 Business Books: 2011 reveals the top picks from this much-used book review resource.

NFIB's Best Business Books of 2011 is a list featuring books recommended especially for small business owners.

"Top Drawer" Business Books of 2011 by Bill Bernbach of advertising agency DDB Worldwide, has a decidedly creative focus.

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