Whether you relish staying ahead of the game or simply broadening your own horizons, business books are undoubtedly the most accessible way of accomplishing both.
No stone has been left unturned when it comes to this subject matter, which has been addressed by authors from the Financial Times and Schroders Business Book of the Year Award.
From the race to build the highest skyscrapers and combat the climate crisis to exposing the dark truths of cobalt mining and authoritarian capitalism, this year’s coveted list provides a thought-provoking investigation into the themes of AI, the future of finance and the war for talent.
For the first time this year, the award was run under a new three-year deal with Schroders in partnership with Nikkei (Financial Times’ parent company). Six of the world’s best business books were shortlisted from the acclaimed longlist of 15 titles.
The winner will be announced on 4 December 2023 in London, with a prize of US$37,500 awarded to the book judged to provide the most captivating and significant insights.
One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is opening their mind to a new perspective, and gifting them a book is a foolproof way to do so. Here are our favorites:
By Siddharth Kara
Genre: Crime and scandal, energy and environment, manufacturing and commerce
Summary: Described as heart-wrenching and compelling, researcher and activist on modern slavery Siddharth Kara uncovers the human rights abuses involved in cobalt mining in the Congo. With the testimonies of the Congolese people, this eye-opening investigation examines the untold stories behind the mining of cobalt that consumers and tech giants have come to rely on. Discover how the batteries that power our devices and electric vehicles – clean energy – are tainted by the blood of children in the Congo.
By Walter Isaacson
Genre: Biography, manufacturing and commerce, technology and innovation
Summary: As a best-selling author of biographies including Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson delivers a comprehensive and well-researched chronicle of the wealthiest man on the planet, having shadowed him for two years. While Musk has led humanity into unexplored territory in space on multiple occasions, the resurfacing of his past wounds has led many to perceive him as a controversial innovator. Ultimately, the reader is left to ponder whether these darker attributes are what’s needed to drive progression and innovation.
By Bent Flyvbjerg and Dan Gardner
Genre: Entrepreneurship, leadership and management, technology and innovation
Summary: A well-known scholar on the management of megaprojects and cities, Bent Flyvbjerg partnered with New York Times best-selling author Dan Gardner to examine the reasons why some projects fail while others set a new benchmark for competitors. Whether launching a new business, product or work project, the book provides real-life examples (uncovering the story behind the Sydney Opera House) as well as a set of research-backed principles to deliver any project on time and on budget. Flyvbjerg draws on his three decades of experience as a trusted advisor to government and business to share invaluable advice for anyone wanting to better manage their projects, whatever the size or scope.
By Ed Conway
Genre: Energy and environment, manufacturing and commerce
Summary: Tracing the journey of six raw materials – sand, salt, iron, copper, oil and lithium – to the products most of us take for granted, economics and data editor Ed Conway endeavors to take the reader into the hidden worlds that tell the story of civilization. Conway illustrates why these substances are gaining prominence in the face of climate change and the search for clean energy sources. His global travels escort the reader into the dark depths of the deepest mine in Europe to Taiwanese silicon chip factories. This book promises to change the way we think about the material world and the complex networks and processes involved.
By Amy Edmondson
Genre: Behavioral science, leadership and management
Summary: As a leading authority on psychological safety, Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson sheds light on the distinction between good failure and unproductive failure. Described by organizational psychologist Adam Grant as a guidebook on how to take “intelligent risks” and bounce back from setbacks, it’s certainly one to add to your reading list if you’re curious about how to practice failure more consciously. Edmondson draws on examples from business, pop culture and history to illustrate how the shame and blame culture is due for an overhaul.
By Mustafa Suleyman with Michael Bhaskar
Genre: Technology and innovation
Summary: Offering a counterpoint to AI optimists, DeepMind (a subsidiary of Google) Co-Founder Mustafa Suleyman argues that the biggest challenge over the next decade is preparing for “the containment problem”. From policymakers to business leaders and beyond, The Coming Wave provides a practical road map to help navigate a world that will soon be run by AI, and the implications of this fast-approaching new reality.
By Bethany Allen
Genre: Economics, growth markets
Summary: Described as a page-turner, Bethany Allen’s in-depth investigative reporting has culminated in a meticulously written account of China’s quest for global power and influence. The author lifts the curtain on China’s covert strategy to infiltrate western institutions by leveraging its economic strengths. As a recipient of the Robert D. G. Lewis Watchdog Award, Allen has been recognized for her work on the China Cables Project – secret government documents on the internment camps in Xinjiang. Today, she is a Taipei-based China reporter at Axios. This book is a must-read for anyone curious about the rise of authoritarian capitalism and its potential implications, if left unchecked.
By Katherine Clarke
Genre: Banking and finance, investment and markets
Summary: The Wall Street Journal reporter Katherine Clarke knows the world of high-end real estate in the United States better than anyone. Billionaires’ Row refers to the new “Manhattan megatowers” – the epitome of extreme wealth. In this account, Clarke transports the reader into a ruthless industry that brings together the forces of ambition, greed and competition in the creation of exclusive, high-rise residences that widen the wealth gap.
By Zeynep Ton
Genre: Manufacturing and commerce, workplace
Summary: An ideal tool for navigating the struggle to find and keep staff, in The Case for Good Jobs, MIT professor Zeynep Ton offers a framework for overcoming the constraints that are hindering your business. Ton shows why high employee turnover and mediocrity need to be addressed, and what happens when organizations are overly preoccupied with their customers rather than recognizing operational issues.
By Daron Acemoglu and Simon Johnson
Genre: Economics, history, technology and innovation
Summary: MIT Professors Daron Acemoglu and Simon Johnson draw on examples throughout economic history that illustrate how technological advancements have the propensity to either benefit an elite few or contribute to the greater good. The authors bring us up to date by arguing that humanity is once again at a fork in the road. For true progress to take place, they warn, the latest tsunami of innovation must be paired with the right vision.
By Ben McKenzie and Jacob Silverman
Genre: Banking and finance, crime and scandal, investment and markets
Summary: To investigate the rise and fall of cryptocurrency, Ben McKenzie brought journalist Jacob Silverman onboard to pull together interviews and stories that inform this entertaining guidebook on cryptocurrency. For anyone who wants to demystify the recent bitcoin hysteria, this book shines a light on the old adage that if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
By Simon Sharpe
Genre: Energy and environment
Summary: Having spent a decade on the leading edge of climate change policy, Simon Sharpe offers a battle plan for saving the planet that rethinks the strategies we’ve relied on up until now within the fields of science, economics and diplomacy. Could the ideas we think are helping us actually be hindering progress?
By Rachel O’Dwyer
Genre: Banking and finance, technology and innovation
Summary: The future of the economy is being shaped by a new currency in the form of tokens. From gift cards and NFTs to vouchers and shares, O’Dwyer questions the implications of online platforms becoming the banks of tomorrow. With the digital token economy only expanding, it makes sense to be aware of how the various players within this industry are using their power.