In September I volunteered at the 2013 National Book Festival in the Library of Congress pavilion where the Science and Business sections shared a space. I spent a few hours talking to people about the Library, as well as what I do as a business reference librarian. I brought along a few items that I could use as discussion topics, including a few titles of a more “business” nature from the Books That Shaped America list compiled by the Library as part of the multi-year “Celebration of the Book.”
As the list itself covered a wide swath of literature, selecting titles that were more “business” meant choosing a few were not obviously “business.” These were my selections:
- The History of the Standard Oil Company by Ida Tarbell
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- Unsafe at Any Speed by Ralph Nader
- The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
- A Survey of the Roads of the United States of America by Christopher Colles
As you can see, the first four books are more obviously of a “business” nature, but you may be wondering why I chose the title by Christopher Colles. Colles, who was an Irish-born engineer and surveyor, created what is considered to be the first road map or guidebook of the United States. His thorough survey of roads would have been very important for the new nation and would have been essential for anyone wishing to travel as well as for the movement of mail and goods.
While I wish there had been more business-oriented books on the Library’s list, I did find two lists for the most “influential” business books – Time’s 25 Most Influential Business Management Books and Inc.com’s Top 10 Influential Business Books of All Time. There are books on both lists that anyone would recognize and the lists had a few books in common, including Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. One title that I did not include from the Books That Shaped America list, but that appeared on the list from Inc.com, is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.
The full list of Books That Shaped America generated some discussion and I thought I would I ask here, what would you consider the “best” business books?