Top of page

Books That Shaped America: The Business Edition

Share this post:

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:

 John  Buczak, artist. Ill. : Federal Art Project, WPA, [between 1936 and 1939]
John Buczak, artist. Ill. : Federal Art Project, WPA, [between 1936 and 1939]

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’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, 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?


  1. As a marketing major, some of the most influential books I read were by Peter Drucker. I’ll add either “The Essential Drucker” or “The Daily Drucker” to the list of Books that Shaped America: The Business Edition.

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.