Influential Business Books – and What They Can Teach You About Business English

One of the first things we do when learning a language is turn to books. A book is great way to speed up our learning, and our enjoyment of a language. It’s always a real thrill the first time you pick up a book in English and actually understand it, and to feel your English skills improve as you come to find reading easier and easier.

We’ve taken a look at some of the best business books ever written – some are old, some are new, some are fiction, some are not – and all are guaranteed to help you improve your business English skills. As well as allowing you to practice your comprehension skills, these books will also boost your vocabulary, introduce you to the way people really speak in the office environment, and will be a thoroughly interesting read for anyone keen to learn English for Business

The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (1776)

This may be the oldest book on our list by a long margin, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still relevant today. The greatest work of the Scottish economist and moral philosopher, Adam Smith it offers one of the world’s first collected descriptions of what builds nations’ wealth and remains a fundamental work in classical economics. Through reflection over the economics at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution the book touches upon such broad topics as the division of labour, productivity and free markets. Remarkably, many of the turns of phrase that Smith uses back in 1776 are still in use in the world of economics and business in 2014, such as “division of labour”, “invisible hand” and “free market”.

Memos from the Chairman by Alan Greenberg (1996)

If you want to know what it’s like to work for a major investment bank, this book is for you. A collection of memos to employees by the chairman of the now defunct investment bank Bear Stearns, you’re given a snapshot of what daily life is like within the financial environment, as well as a glimpse into the mindset of Greenberg. Humorous and educational, later editions of the book also come with an introduction by Warren Buffet, one of the most successful businessmen of all time, and a big fan of this work.

What Color Is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers by Richard Bolles (2013)

For anyone feeling a little lost in terms of their career direction this is the self-help book for you. What Color Is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers, has inspired many people to realize their dreams, by first figuring out just what it is they want to do with their lives. It’s full of inspirational and motivational language and techniques that will help you find a clearer vision of what you want to do next and where you’ll want to work.

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (2011)

Biographies are another great avenue to explore when it comes to business books and business language. Lots of CEOs and business leaders have either written their own autobiographies, or have had books written about them. This goes for historically successful businessmen like Donald Trump and John D. Rockefeller, to today’s movers and shakers like Dustin Moskovitz and Mark Zuckerberg (the co-founders of Facebook). For anyone with an interest in the technology business this biography on the late founder and CEO of Apple Steve Jobs, is a must-read, full of insights that shed light on a complicated man and his vision for how technology could be.

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t by Jim Collins (2001)

This book is a must-read for anyone with an interest in management or business owners looking to turn their companies, no matter how large or small, into great and enduring companies that are built to last. As well as learning about how businesses work on a practical level, you’ll learn management skills, and get to read about case studies of real businesses – giving you insight into the kind of business language that is used in company reports and formal paperwork.

What business books have you enjoyed recently? Do you have any recommendations for other business English students out there? Let us know in the comments below.