Balancing books and keeping financial records straight may not strike many CEOs as fascinating. But if you can keep your attention focused, here's a book well worth reading (or at least assigning your financial staffers to read): Step-by-Step Bookkeeping: The Complete Handbook for the Small Business (Sterling Publishing, 800-367-9692, 1992, $7.95), by Robert C. Ragan, a certified public accountant.

In exhaustive detail, the guide will teach you how to keep accounts-receivable and -payable records that make sense, and how to produce and analyze a profit-and-loss statement. For companies whose internal systems are occasionally slapdash, sections on how to prepare accurate monthly financial statements should be invaluable. -- Jill Andresky Fraser