15 books top CEOs want everyone to read

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In An Uncertain World: Tough Choices from Wall Street to Washington, Robert Rubin and Jacob Weisberg.

Warren Buffett

The “Oracle of Omaha,” Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, has been known for some time as a fairly cautious investor and an equally low-key and cautious personality, so it’s probably not that much of a surprise that he cites Robert Rubin and Jacob Weisberg’s In an Uncertain World as one of his favorite books.

It’s hard sometimes to know what the future holds, even for an oracle, so it makes sense that Buffett would be concerned with how to make the hard decisions, especially when the outcome of a bad decision could be so disastrous for his family, his shareholders, and his otherworldly reputation.

The Reader, Bernhard Schlink

Carlos Ghosn

Much like Richard Branson’s choice of Wild Swans, it might be difficult to imagine Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn getting home from a long day doing whatever the CEO of Nissan might do all day – meetings, probably, lots of meetings – and tucking into this brief, elegiac novel about illiteracy and forbidden love in the shadow of the Holocaust.

Bernhard Schlink’s The Reader, however, has apparently been Ghosn’s favorite book ever since his son gave him a copy. A selection of Oprah’s Book Club in 1999, The Reader was made into a film starring Kate Winslet in 2008.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and others, John Le Carre

James Gorman

Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman’s choice of reading material has less to do with inspiration or business decisions that with the sheer desire to kick back and unwind with an elegant spy novel or two, and no one does “elegant spy novel” better than John Le Carre. Gorman isn’t particularly picky about which Le Carre he picks up, stating only that he enjoys reading them, but Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is as good a place to start as any, although The Spy Who Came In From the Cold is worth a long look, too. (As are any of his books, really.)

Why Americans Can't Afford Illness

The Aeneid, Virgil

Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook’s done more than just usher society into the 21st century – in many ways, it’s been one of the things that has defined the 21st century, if we’re being honest; would social media have the footprint/stranglehold that it does on modern society without Facebook leading the way? And yet, CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg’s choice of reading material is an ancient classic, Virgil’s Aeneid.

A Latin epic dating from the 1st century B.C, it’s another pillar of Western culture that’s well worth digging into if you can handle the thought of reading a 10,000 line poem.

The Tender Bar, J.R. Moehringer

Howard Lutnick

Cantor Fitzgerald CEO Howard Lutnick was widely lauded, and rightfully so, for the leadership he displayed in the wake of 9/11 (Cantor had several floors on the highest levels of Tower One, the first one to be hit, and lost over 650 employees in the attacks) and, years later, after Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of New York City, so it’s maybe not much of a surprise that one of his favorite books is Pulitzer-winner J.R. Moehringer’s The Tender Bar, the story of how Moehringer was basically raised by the patrons of a local bar after his father, a disc jockey in New York, left the family.

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Written by Katie Henderson

Katie Henderson is the Strategy editor at Business Pundit. She writes articles that help business owners, executives, and employees better understand how to run a business and work as effective employees.