Warren Buffett — arguably the most skilled investor of our time — said reading 500 pages a day was the key to success, because, "That's how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest."
This is likely why so many important businessmen and women make reading a daily part of their lives. It's why Bill Gates reads 50 books every year (roughly one a week) and Mark Zuckerberg kicked off 2015 with the goal of reading one every other week.
If you want exposure to new ideas, modes of thinking, and a compounded aggregate of diverse knowledge, then reading is important. And it's going to help you in business, be it by a mixture of accounts on other corporate successes or failures and lessons on lean startups, or a 2,500-year-old military tome that works just as well in boardrooms as war.
Below are the most influential business books of all time, if you're looking to start with those most worth your time:
Descriptions provided by Amazon and edited for length.
"Business Adventures" by John Brooks
What do the $350 million Ford Motor Company disaster known as the Edsel, the fast and incredible rise of Xerox, and the unbelievable scandals at General Electric and Texas Gulf Sulphur have in common? Each is an example of how an iconic company was defined by a particular moment of fame or notoriety; these notable and fascinating accounts are as relevant today to understanding the intricacies of corporate life as they were when the events happened.
Note: Bill Gates wrote in his blog, gatesnotes, that Warren Buffett not only recommended this as his favorite book about business, but actually sent Gates his own personal copy to read. Gates writes that more than four decades after it was first published, "Business Adventures" remains the best business book he's ever read.
"The Intelligent Investor" by Benjamin Graham
The greatest investment advisor of the twentieth century, Benjamin Graham, taught and inspired people worldwide. Graham's philosophy of "value investing" — which shields investors from substantial error and teaches them to develop long-term strategies — has made "The Intelligent Investor" the stock market bible ever since its original publication in 1949.
Note: Warren Buffett refers to "The Intelligent Investor" as the "best book on investing ever written."
"The Innovator's Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business" by Clayton M. Christensen
Offering both successes and failures from leading companies as a guide, "The Innovator’s Dilemma" gives you a set of rules for capitalizing on the phenomenon of disruptive innovation.
Note: Steve Jobs used this book as an explanation for one reason Apple needed to embrace cloud computing and is frequently associated with both Jobs and Jeff Bezos.