Reading nonfiction, especially strategic business books is something that I’ve grown to love. I get asked of how to read nonfiction, especially business books quite often. As I grew older and had more interest in business, I started picking up more business books. It reached a point where I found reading business books enjoyable as I found delight in my discoveries. Reading nonfiction, especially business books shouldn’t be intimidating, especially if it can serve you well.
Picking up business books as a leisurely read need to come with time and practice. I have a few in the ‘Business Book’ genre that I am very keen on but found too heavy to read! Even a single chapter in one sitting was too much for me. So I tend to break it down to be read through several months. Truth be told, I started reading The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham in 2008 and haven’t finished it (hitting 12 years, guys!). But as I have always iterate in my blog and in real life, just put the book down and move on. The book will be ready for you when YOU are READY!
Why you should read nonfiction for business.
Although a lot of business books are aimed for corporate managers, you shouldn’t have to wait until you are one to begin reading business books. If you are an adult who aspire to make more money, that is an indication enough that you need to read business books. The books will help you understand how corporate works, how entrepreneurs persevere, how to climb the right ladder and most importantly the hardship and time investment it takes to be on top. If my previous sentence did not appeal in any way to you, I would really wonder why you are still reading this.
Before we delve further, let me clearly define business books in the context of this blog post – a business book is a book that contains text on how business is managed through innovation, use of case study, well-placed strategies or data analytics. I’m explaining this as there is a broad range of niches within the genre Business Book such as Investing, Marketing, Communications, Leadership, Management, Strategy etc. And in this blog post I shall cover the niche of Strategy only.
Now that we have the definition and purpose of reading business books sorted, I will list three types of strategic business books to read depending on your reading inclinations. Here goes how to read nonfiction: strategic business books.
NUMBER 1: AUTOBIOGRAPHY
RECOMMENDATION : ANYTHING WRITTEN BY RICHARD BRANSON
Richard Branson is an amazing writer, and I can feel that he contemplates each word and term he uses in his books. I believe this skill came from his struggle with dyslexia and the fact that his first business at 16 was magazine publishing.
I’ve read his books over the decades, not as a business person but as a person who loves good books. That said, if you’re looking for strategic business books to read, why not pick up a book written by him? He usually covers his strategic concepts with examples that came from his own experience. So you not only get some business knowledge, you get a personal insight into his life as well.
The business strategies presented in Richard Branson’s books are presented in story-like manner. You would have to reach the end of his book to discover that you have been reading a business book that’s loaded with strategies.
Another reason I love Richard Branson’s books is that the sub-titles for each chapter encapsulate its content effectively. This assists well when you need to recall a strategy he placed within his story and for easy reference in the future.
I would recommend Richard Branson’s books to managers, entrepreneurs, basically anybody above the age of 18, EXCEPT (yes, except..) EXCEPT if you are narrow minded (like who would admit that, LOL) or can’t accept liberal ideas that involve parties, fun and music. Then don’t ever pick up any of Richard Branson’s books because they’re not for you.
NUMBER 2: FUN BUSINESS CASE STUDIES
RECOMMENDATION: THE FREAKONOMICS SERIES
There are various case-study books that I’ve read and I found the Freakonomics series the easiest to read for us without a Masters Degree in Economy. When I read Freakonomics, I get a feeling like I’m listening to a talk show on radio. It doesn’t feel too much of a read and the sentences just flow. You just nod at the nuances that totally explains something that had puzzled you before.
The authors of the Freakonomics series is a team of two. An economist from University of Chicago and a journalist from the New York Times. I believe the combo makes for an interesting read laden with facts. That could certainly help you string strategies that work. The Freakonomics series scratch for facts beneath the surface to solidify your ‘hunches’ when rolling out a strategy for your business.
Here’s what I say whenever I recommend Freakonomics to people. Do you want to know why whenever you receive a scam chain email from somebody, the person would always include the fact that they’re from Nigeria? Wouldn’t they have had a higher chance of scamming if they hadn’t mentioned that? Well, I welcome you to be enlightened to the concept of ‘False Positive’ by reading Freakonomics.
NUMBER 3: ACADEMIC WRITING
RECOMMENDATION: HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW
I always know in my heart of hearts that my HBRs are the most precious in my collection of books. Shall any situation require me to abandon the house, my HBRs would come along with me. Quite simply, the journals in HBR are by far the most functioning slab of information, in the best indexed titles.
I say that because bad indexing wastes a lot our precious time. Have you ever searched for information on the Internet and suddenly you find thousands of useless information?
The beauty of HBR is that it had done the research for you. So that whenever you look up the Internet, you know if the search result is not relevant to your problem. If you want laser-focused information to perform strategies on your business, then HBR is for you.
I’ve read business books from other academic publishers such as Wiley and McGraw-Hill as well. And I find that HBRs are more practical for a business person like me. HBR is a compilation of academic studies/journals on business case studies. Effectively providing insight in broad swipes to serve non-academics.
Besides that, there is a bevy of topics covered by HBR ranging from Managing Yourself to Leadership Lessons from Sports. Personally, reading HBR is the biggest favour I’ve done for myself. HBR covers the important aspects I need when reading – verified knowledge, great writing skills and the great pull to reread HBR.
There is a copy of HBR for everybody and everyone.
I believe there is a copy of HBR for everybody business person out there. I might write a blog post on how to choose an HBR in the future. Stay tuned.
There goes my three answers on how to read nonfiction: strategic business books. I hope you benefit from the post and have more clarity in making decisions on what to read and enjoy. Reading nonfiction does not have to be intimidating, especially if you knew that business strategies can be sought many channels. By reading autobiographies or fun business case studies or undoubtedly, from academic writing it may lead you to read according to your inclinations, and find delight in your discoveries.
Now I would like to hear from you. What kind of books do you find difficult to read? You may leave a line in the Comment section below, or you may reply to me if you’re a subscriber to The Baini Mustafa Weekly Email.
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Keep reading, keep communicating effectively – because the world needs to know the stuff only YOU know.