Business Books You Won’t Be Able to Put Down

Alright, here it is: the book list to end all book lists. I’ve organized your suggestions into sections you can tackle while avoiding your annoying relatives this holiday season.

Thank you to everyone who emailed, tweeted, and even mailed me a real physical book (how did you find me?!). Just in case you’re curious, I’m currently reading, “Titan” by Ron Chernow, “Principles” by Ray Dalio, and a dramatic, tell-all book about “The Bachelor.”

Now, onto your suggestions:


Shoe Dog by Phil Knight:

A Bill Gates (and Term Sheet reader) favorite, Shoe Dog offers an inside look at how Phil Knight built his startup Nike into the global brand it is today.

The Smartest Guys in the Room by Peter Elkind & Bethany McLean

If you’re looking for drama and really good reporting, this is for you. The book-turned-Netflix special details the rise and fall of Enron and was written by two Fortune alums.

Titan by Ron Chernow

John D. Rockefeller has been referred to as “the Jekyll-and-Hyde of American capitalism.” He was a ruthless business magnate while also being a major philanthropist. This one is a business staple.

Too Big to Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin

This is a real-life thriller with a blow-by-blow account of the economic crisis that brought the entire financial world to its knees. It has everything — ego, greed, and fear.

Wild Ride by Adam Lashinsky

Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky wrote about Travis Kalanick, one of the most polarizing figures in Silicon Valley. Lashinsky takes readers on quite a ride as he meticulously details Uber’s meteoric rise — and its jaw-dropping plunge into controversy.


Principles by Ray Dalio

Most people hate conflict, but Ray Dalio thrives on it. He’s built Bridgewater Associates into the world’s biggest hedge fund by encouraging radical transparency and organizational dissent. This book will give you the tools to make decisions, approach challenges, and build strong teams.

Venture Deals by Brad Feld & Jason Mendelson

This one delves into the details of what Term Sheet readers deal with on a daily basis — the term sheet, the players, the negotiations, the legalities, and more. Think of it as a very comprehensive guidebook to understanding venture capital funding.

E Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber

E Myth should be required reading for anyone who wants to start their own company. In this bestseller, Gerber dispels the myths about starting a small business and helps readers take their plans from the ideal to the specific.


Barbarians at the Gate by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar

This book has been called, “one of the finest, most compelling accounts of what happened to corporate America and Wall Street in the 1980s.” The captivating account of the fall of RJR Nabisco still serves as a great cautionary tale about greed and double-dealings.

Den of Thieves by James B. Stewart

This bestseller details the greatest insider-trading ring in financial history and profiles the players who almost walked away with billions. The book combines business, crime, and the ugly side of human nature — what more could you want?

Business Adventures by John Brooks

This is Bill Gates’ favorite book (and he has Warren Buffett’s copy). So if this is good enough for Gates & Buffett, it’s good enough for this list. John Brooks compiled his longform New Yorker articles into this book, which include profiles of Xerox, Ford, and General Electric.


Elon Musk by Ashley Vance

I personally like this book because it delves into the psyche of one of the most innovative (albeit unusual) entrepreneurs of our time. Vance gives readers an exclusive look into SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity, while also giving us a better understanding of Elon Musk’s mind.

Jeff Bezos and The Age of Amazon by Brad Stone

It is mind-boggling to think Amazon started out as an online bookstore. That wasn’t nearly enough for its wildly ambitious founder, Jeff Bezos. This is an in-depth account of how Bezos’ large bets forever transformed the retail industry.

King of Capital by David Carey & John E. Morris

This is a good book to read right after you finish Barbarians at the Gate. It demonstrates how Blackstone and other private equity firms transformed into disciplined, risk-conscious investors — all this while banks were recklessly pushing the economy to the brink of disaster. This book documents the remarkable rise, fall, and rise (again) of Steve Schwarzman and Blackstone.

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