Let’s explore 10 of the best business book gift ideas for birthdays, Christmas, or any other special event. Each of the books here are fun to read and are often very entertaining. They relate to business but can be enjoyed by almost anyone, so they make great gifts.
These recommendations are for entrepreneurs, founders, managers, and others that enjoy casual business books. If you are looking for educational books, check out my reading lists that tackle business topics, including: digital marketing, entrepreneurship, product management, and more.
1. Bad Blood by John Carreyrou
This book documents the incredible rise and fall of Theranos, a startup once valued at nine billion dollars. The company aimed to revolutionize the blood testing industry. And the founder, Elizabeth Holmes, was considered by many to be the next Steve Jobs.
Unfortunately they could never get the underlying technology to work. And to make matters worse, the leadership team covered up that fact for a very long time. It’s an example of “fake it until you make it” on an epic scale with massive consequences.
2. The Smartest Guys In The Room by Bethany McLean & Peter Elkind
This book is a little dated at this point, but it documents the rise of Enron and its eventual collapse in 2001. The once admired energy company had been seen as a truly great business. An example of what many described as a business of the future.
However, on the inside, Enron had an extremely toxic culture that centered on greed and selfishness. And the business is now an example of just how destructive a business can be when it abuses deregulations and shady business tactics. It’s a riveting story.
3. Super Pumped by Mike Isaac
This book tells the incredible story of Uber. How it came to be, how it grew so quickly, and the many challenges that it faced along the way. As with so many massive companies, the full potential of the business wasn’t clear early on.
Readers get a behind-the-scenes look at how the business was built. How the team was formed, how Travis Kalanick lead the company, and how the culture became incredibly reckless and toxic over time. The book is packed with interesting details and stories.
4. Conspiracy by Ryan Holiday
This may be the least business-focused book on the list. But it involves billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel and his epic battle with Gawker Media. The author presents both sides of the story in an entertaining and balanced way.
On the one hand, you have a media company abusing freedom of the press to publish all kinds of private and edgy content. And on the other, you have a billionaire abusing his vast resources to try to take them down. It’s a real conspiracy and a fascinating read.
5. Facebook by Steven Levy
Almost everyone uses Facebook or at least knows many people that do. But, while movies like The Social Network (2010) have told parts of the story, this book provides a more complete and comprehensive look at how the business was built. And it covers some crazy things that have happened inside and around Facebook over the years.
Themes include: its inception, its rapid growth, major acquisitions, and more recently – its mishandling of user privacy. The book is a fascinating read from start to finish. And one that is likely to cause you to want to spend less time on Facebook in the future.
6. Red Notice by Bill Browder
This is described as a real-life political thriller and that’s a fitting description. It’s the story of how Bill Browder became the largest foreign investor in Russia. And it begins with his purchase of company vouchers during the privatization of its industries.
This turned out to be an incredibly lucrative investment. But it also put Bill in the sights of Russian oligarchs, corrupt government officials, and even Vladimir Putin. Without giving anything away, I can say the story gets very intense.
7. The Everything Store by Brad Stone
This book documents the improbable story of Amazon and how it became the e-commerce giant that it is today. It was a big eye opener for me as I didn’t realize just how wild and uncertain things were for many years. As with Uber, Amazon’s history was far more haphazard and random than I expected.
Jeff Bezos and his team made all kinds of blunders over the years. But ultimately they were able to build an incredible business. And this book not only documents the journey but covers practical business tips along the way.
8. American Kingpin by Nick Bilton
This is the story of how 26 year old Ross Ulbricht built a $1.2B online drug empire. All from his laptop as he travelled and worked in coffee shops. The platform became known as The Silk Road and it’s been referred to as the Amazon or eBay of the dark web.
Unlike mainstream e-commerce platforms, customers could buy almost anything including drugs, forged passports, and counterfeit money. All purchases were made using Bitcoin which was presumed by many to be an anonymous currency at the time.
I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but this is another excellent read that includes practical business lessons along the way.
9. Valley Of Genius by Adam Fisher
I’m a big fan of this book for two reasons. First, it provides a detailed account of the history of Silicon Valley. And second, it consists entirely of quotes from people that were there over the years, including: Steve Jobs, Nolan Bushnell, Steve Wozniak, Mark Zuckerberg, Sean Parker, Kevin Kelly, and many others.
The content is quite literally back-to-back quotes that reveal the entire story. The author has brilliantly stitched them together in a way that flows very naturally. And the result is that you get the unique perspective of many influential tech figures.
10. Billion Dollar Whale by Tom Wright & Bradley Hope
This book tells the story of how “investor” Jho Low stole billions from state-owned investments. It documents how he spent the money to live a lavish lifestyle. And how he attempted to build legitimate businesses along the way.
Somewhat ironically, Jho helped to fund The Wolf of Wall Street, a movie about shady investing. And the book details how he used lavish spending to court celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio to star in his films. Meanwhile, Jordan Belfort, the real Wolf Of Wall Street, was one of the first to question the legitimacy of Jho’s businesses.
Other Business Book Gift Ideas
That’s it for this list. Again, if you’re looking for educational books, I do have lists that cover digital marketing, entrepreneurship, product management, and related topics. They too can make great business book gifts for an avid business reader.