The Best Business Book of 2021 (According to Every Other Best-of-2021 List)
More selections this year, but a single book breaks through
You probably don’t need to read another article about how strange 2021 was. The effects of the pandemic continued to reverberate forward into this year. Business book sales recovered from a low in 2020, but as we moved into the fall, those strong sales were threatened by supply chain constraints in raw materials, printer capacity, and distribution.
As we look back at the books published this year, there is an equally interesting story that emerged.
First, A Little History
When I started looking at business best-of lists three years ago, my primary goal was to see if there were any books chosen by groups from different segments of the book publishing ecosystem. Journalists at The Financial Times or Strategy + Business look through a different lens than retailers at BookPal, Porchlight Book, and Amazon. I thought this meta-analysis could give us a view into the must read books and provide a needed shortcut given the thousands of new works published each year. A consensus on a chosen title might also illuminate a broader theme about the year passed.
In 2019, the first year of the best-of, best-of list, that consensus was bright and clear. Three books were chosen by five of the six lists. Range by David Epstein, Nine Lies about Work by Marcus Buckingham and Ashely Goddall, and Loonshots by Safi Bahcall. The theme was clear. I wrote, “Each book tackles something we are all struggling with as we end the second decade of the 21st century: how to get better at solving complex problems, as individuals and as groups of people.”
Last year, we highlighted five books, but only one of those reached that high bar of appearing on five lists. That book was No Rules Rules by Netflix CEO Reed Hasting and INSEAD professor Erin Meyer. The closer look at the beliefs behind the media company’s unique management practices captured broad attention.