Best Business Novels You Can Read This Summer

Just came back from my two weeks in Bodrum. I like doing some light reading on vacation. Business novels are especially go well under the sun since they are both enjoyable easy-reads and still can help you learn and grow.

The first business novel I read was The Goal couple of years ago. It was a great read and very thought provocative. After that I tried to find and read as many business novels as I can. Unfortunately, there are not many in this genre. I also did not find any web resources on business novels. So, today I am sharing the best business novels I have read. If you know any good ones missing below please feel free to post on the comments section.

5. Gung Ho! – Ken Blanchard

This is a great quick read that you will probably finish at one sitting. Gung-ho means “enthusiastic” in Chinese and this novel is about increasing the productivity of workers. Our hero has a mentor who shows how to accomplish this using three principles of Gung-Ho:
The Spirit of the squirrel: Worthwhile work driven by goals and values.
The Way of the Beaver: Putting workers in control of achieving the goal.
The Gift of the Goose: Cheering each other on.

4. It’s Not Luck, Critical Chain and Necessary But Not Sufficient – Eliyahu M. Goldratt

I did not want to fill up the top 5 list with Goldratt, although he would certainly deserve it. Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints basically describes how to find the major constraints and critical paths in any kind of project and optimizing them. If you are a programmer, it is kind of similar to Profiling software. It happened to me many times. You first use profiling to find the slowest parts of an application, then with couple of small fixes or caches, everything suddenly runs so much smoother. Same applies to Business. You can and should optimize it. But be careful, exactly like software, premature optimizations does not work and it can actually harm your critical path. Goldratt’s books are rational but emotional, complex and very satisfying. When you finish one, you are happy and sad. Both because they are so freaking good.

3. The Deadline: A Novel About Project Management – Tom DeMarco

I have read other books by Tom DeMarco. He has basically put his ideas into a novel and he did it well. If you are a software developer or manager, you must read the Deadline. It wouldn’t compare to Goldratt’s books though. I found the ideas and teaching great but the story was lacking. He is certainly not a novelist and it is showing.

2. Selling The Wheel – Jeff Cox, Howard Stevens

This is a fiction about marketing and sales. Our hero literally invents the wheel. The story goes on in ancient Egypt. I was pretty skeptic about the story line but it turned out to be pretty good. It wasn’t too simplified as I was afraid of. Our heroes show how sales should differentiate depending on where your product is on the technology curve.

1. The Goal – Eliyahu M. Goldratt

This is a story about Alex Rogo who manages a plant and his mentor Jonah. They have productivity and scheduling problems on the plant. So, Jonah teaches Alex how to use the Theory of Constraints to solve their problems. Instead of trying to optimize everything, the idea is to focus on finding the main constraints that optimizing them. This may sound like pretty basic stuff, but it is so easy to forget about it. The book also have pretty interesting creative problem solving techniques such as Evaporating Cloud. It is an educational, entertaining and thought provoking book. I would highly recommend it.

16 Responses to “Best Business Novels You Can Read This Summer”

  1. My all-time favourite “classics”, which I re-read about once a year: The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Granted these are primarily ethical/philosophical “novels” with business as a backdrop and the object of abstract discussions and romantic/heroic plots… but still highly recommended.

  2. devrim says:

    Was reading the “Getting things done” in Bodrum last week. Far too motivating for a holiday :)

    Thanks for the post at Joel’s. Will give the goal a try…

  3. Rachel says:

    I actually just read an excellent business/legal fiction novel that you might find very interesting. The title of the book is “Wearing the Spider” by Susan Schaab.

  4. Michael says:

    “How to Make a Buck and Still Be a Decent Human Being: A Week With Rick Rose at Dataflex” Old, but very good. Although I suspect the company’s out of business now, so perhaps some of the lessons are off.

    “Startup : A Silicon Valley Adventure”

    “The Billion Dollar Molecule: One Company’s Quest for the Perfect Drug” – deals with a biotech company instead of a computer company, but good read.

  5. Nick Hebb says:

    If you like The Goal, one book to check out is Rolling Rocks Downhill by Clarke Ching ( The best way to describe it is The Goal for Agile Development.

    He’s posted chapters on his blog and has started doing podcasts. I don’t have a direct link for the published chapters, so you’ll have to search around on his blog.

  6. Michael says:

    I have to second Atlas Shrugged. I realize it’s a little off-topic, and doesn’t teach specific business skills, but I’ve never found a better career motivator.

    Thanks for the list, though. Always looking for good books with a purpose ;)

  7. John says:

    I love these books as well. Another good example is “Think and Grow Rich”

  8. Aytekin says:

    Thanks all for the great suggestions. John, I found an online copy of “Think and Grow Rich” and already read the first four chapters. Although it is not a business novel, it seems to be a pretty useful book.

  9. BobbieTheProgrammer says:

    I like “The Caine Mutiny”. Not a business novel, more a novel of war and of an organization, but it looks closely at the issues of loyalty, and the tension between different levels of loyalty.

  10. Sasidhar says:

    Good post buddy.

  11. Terri says:

    My sis accidentaly deleted a form and I need it back is there any way to recover it?

  12. I’ll be honest, I’ve never heard the term “Business Novel” before. As a novelist, I was intrigued! Now I’ll have to go check out the books on this list and see what I find.

    I did read a book that likely falls into this category. “Raving Fans.” I can’t remember the author’s name at the moment, but it was an interesting book. And you’re right… it was a quick read.

    People forget that writing is as much a business as anything else, and I find a great deal of value in business books and guides. If I can learn while being entertained, so much the better!

    Thanks for this list.

    Philipp Schumann – I’ve been reading “Atlas Shrugged” for the past few weeks and I love it! I’ve already picked up “Anthem” as the next book on my reading list. And “Fountainhead” is also going to make an appearance at some point. But I have a rather large stack of books to work through at the moment… if only I could read faster. The great irony of being a writer is that you LOVE books, but have precious little time to read for enjoyment!

  13. Jim Harris says:

    I need to develop a bunch of very similiar forms for different staff in my organization.
    Each form uses its own table, just a flat file with fields for subject,
    text to be displayed, text to be entered, and a couple of check boxes.

    Since this is a flat file, I also need a screen with a grid on it.

    However, I need my staff to log in (I have two tables I currently use,
    Passwords with one entry per staff user
    permission with fields for Passwords.User, as well as TableName and Role
    (Role is either Read or Write.)

    The big probelm is that I need something that con provide log in — it doesn’t have to be secure…
    and it must have record locking.

    Can you help???

    I have some consulting funds avaialbe if needed.

  14. jafet says:

    great blog. great information.

    i started my website 3 days ago, and i have already used 92 forms from the 100 free a month we get!

    i am going to have to upgrade. ;)

    i hope you can take a look at my site, and offer any suggestions.

    take care. and great job.


  15. ali says:

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  16. Andrew Pelt says:

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