BUSINESS BOOKS

5 Short, Must-Read Business Books

Spend five hours reading these classics and you'll be closer to success than ever before.
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Let's suppose you've got a five-hour flight. Sure, you can watch a movie, but what if you could emerge from the flight with knowledge that could change your entire life and career?

Here are five complementary business books, each of which can be absorbed in less than an hour:

1. The One Minute Manager

This has remained a classic for decades, because it obliterates the bloated myth that managing people is so complicated it requires an M.B.A. and an entire library of theoretical tomes. Instead, this book shows that being the boss, like most other things in business, as in life, is mostly a matter of common sense.

2. The Elements of Style

There's no more important skill in business than communication, and with email, texting, and social media, the written word has never been more important. This classic both teaches how to write in quick, informative bursts and corrects the most-commonly made grammatical errors.

3. How to Lie With Statistics

As Benjamin Disraeli said: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." In a world of "big data," there's incredible temptation on all sides to misuse statistics to bend the truth. This book explains exactly how this is done, so that you can make decisions based on reality, rather than a bogus representation of that reality.

4. Don't Sweat the Small Stuff and It's All Small Stuff

In the pressure cooker of the modern, technology-rich, detail-oriented workplace, it's all too easy to get tired, worried, and stressed out. Reading this book smooths away the insanity and helps you remember what's really important--enjoying where you are today and the adventure of where you're headed.

5. The Richest Man in Babylon

What's the point of having a fascinating and successful career if you end up broke at the end of it? This cleverly written parable provides the essential key to personal finance and the accumulation of wealth. It explains how to put your money to work for you, so that you don't have to work to get more money.

Readers: What other books should be on this list?

BTW, I wrote each section of my new book, Business Without the Bullsh*t, with the intent of making it as easy to read as the classics above. Whether I succeeded, I suppose time will tell.

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Last updated: May 8, 2014

GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist

Geoffrey James was recently named a "Top 40 Social Selling Marketing Master" by Forbes, and his blog has won awards from the Society of American Business Editors and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. His writing has appeared in publications as diverse as Wired, Brandweek, and Men's Health, and he is the author of numerous books, including The Tao of Programming, Business Wisdom of the Electronic Elite, and, most recently, Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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