- What is a ‘right kind of wrong’?
- Have you wondered how big projects get done or why they end up in disasters?
- Do you know about the six materials that have shaped human history and will shape our future?
- Are you aware of the modern-day slavery involved in the production of cobalt, a material that is used to power our everyday lives?
- Have you considered what the new era of AI means for the world?
- What drives the innovation, triumphs, and failures of one of the most influential people in the world?
Sainsbury Library invites you to explore these questions with our Financial Times and Schroders Business Book of the Year display. You can access the Financial Times through the Bodleian Libraries, our Current News LibGuide has instructions for registering.
The Financial Times Business Book of the Year Award started in 2005 and aims to find enjoyable books that are pertinent to modern issues in business. The shortlist, for 2023, according to the judges, offers ‘exciting, engaging, and important titles that together provide a highly readable guide to the future of business’1 and ‘solutions to the pressing challenges facing executives and policymakers at a time of profound disruption and uncertainty.’2
The books shortlisted are about topics that go beyond what most people would define as a “business” book and are likely to be of interest to a wide range of readers.
Titles like Right Kind of Wrong (2023 winner) and How Big Things Get Done may be useful for managers but also for people who want to understand why things fail, and how to effectively learn and improve from mistakes. Cobalt Red, Material World, and AI: The Coming Wave, all explore the hidden world of technology, materials, and minerals. The authors shine a light on the history, exploitation, and risks to society and the environment associated with their subject matters. Finally, ‘Elon Musk’ – whether you love the man or hate him – offers readers an insight into one of the most influential and powerful figures in the world today.
A special mention and congratulations to Prof. Bent Flyvbjerg who is an Emeritus Professor at Saïd Business School and who co-authored the shortlisted book How Big Things Get Done: The Surprising Factors Behind Every Successful Project, from Home Renovations to Space Exploration.
We hope you find something that will pique your interest and that you come along and borrow one, or all of them!
Book of the Year
Right Kind of Wrong: Why Learning to Fail Can Teach Us to Thrive
By Amy Edmondson- a world-renowned organisational psychologist and Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School.
Material World: A substantial Story of our Past and Future
By Ed Conway- a writer and broadcaster, currently the Economics and Data editor for Sky News and regular columnist for The Times and Sunday Times.
How Big Things Get Done: The Surprising Factors Behind Every Successful Project, from Home Renovations to Space Exploration
By Bent Flyvbjerg- Saïd Business School Emeritus Professor and the world expert on megaprojects; and Dan Gardner, New York Times bestselling author, speaker, and consultant.
By Walter Isaacson- a history professor at Tulane University, journalist, former CEO of CNN, and bestselling author of biographies including about Steve Jobs and Kissinger.
Cobalt Red: How the Blood of the Congo Powers our Lives
By Siddharth Kara- a British Academy Global Professor and Rights Lab Associate Professor of Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery at the University of Nottingham.
The Coming Wave: AI, Power and the Twenty-First Century’s Greatest Dilemma
By Mustafa Suleyman (with Michael Bhaskar)- a serial tech entrepreneur. AI researcher and co-founder of DeepMind, part of Google, and co-founder of Inflection AI; and Michael Bhaskar – New York Times bestselling writer, and publisher on AI, technology, publishing, and the future of media.
If you are interested in seeing the books that did not reach the shortlist, then you should check out the Financial Times Book of the Year Longlist and you can also see historical entries on their Best Business Books page.
Further Reading: Book Reviews
If you want to find out more about each title above, here are snippets from reviews and you can read the full review by clicking on the book title.
Right Kind of Wrong by Amy Edmondson
‘Do good teams make fewer mistakes? It seems a reasonable hypothesis. But in the early 1990s, when a young researcher looked at evidence from medical teams at two Massachusetts hospitals, the numbers told her a completely different story: the teams who displayed the best teamwork were the ones making the most mistakes. What on earth was going on?’3
Material World- the six commodities that shape our lives
‘Ed Conway’s lucid book explores the mines and quarries beneath the ‘ethereal’ economy of technology and services.’ 4
How Big Things Get Done
‘The book has an upbeat title, perhaps because publishing lore suggests that including “failure” is a sure way to crater sales, but, rest assured, it is full of delicious anecdotes about project management disasters.’5
‘An exploration of the tech billionaire’s epic feats, which is long on reporting detail but shorter on the meaning of Musk.’6
‘Takes a deep dive into the horrors of mining the valuable mineral — and the many who benefit from others’ suffering.’7
AI: The Coming Wave
‘Bristles with breathtaking excitement about the extraordinary possibilities that the revolutions in AI and synthetic biology could bring about (…) In the 21st century, the dilemma will be how to contain technology’s power.’8
We hope you enjoy reading some of these books. If you have any ideas for other business books do contact us! You can also use the Bodleian request form to suggest a new book, e-book, database or resource.
1. 2. Hill, Andrew. “FT Business Book of the Year 2023 — the shortlist” Financial Times, September 21, 2023.
3. Harford, Tim. “The art of making good mistakes,” Financial Times, September 15, 2023.
4. Gapper, John. “Material world-the six commodities that shape our lives,” Financial Times, June 15, 2023.
5. Hill, Andrew, et al. “FT business books: What to read this month,” Financial Times, February 9, 2023.
6. Foroohar, Rana. “Elon Musk by Walter Isaacson — clashes of the titan,” Financial Times, September 13, 2023.
7. Aikins, Matthieu. “How Is Your Phone Powered? Problematically.,” New York Times, January 23, 2023.
8. Thornhill, John. “AI and the next great tech shift,” Financial Times, September 14, 2023.