Alchemical Thoughts

It turns out big CEOs don’t read business books

Posted on: December 4, 2007

Somehow I was not surprised by this piece from The New York Times on CEOs and their personal libraries written by Harriet Rubin on July 21, 2007. I just found interesting some of the choices they made. Some of them read their books for edification, and others collect them. What they seem to share in common is that they do not read business books per se. The article I think makes a nice point of arguing for the importance of reading broadly, reading in different areas. It also gives a look at how some of these executives make their own personal libraries.

Here are some quotes from the article, with my humble thoughts.

  • "Ken Lopez, a bookseller in Hadley, Mass., says it is impossible to put together a serious library on almost any subject for less than several hundred thousand dollars." Clearly, it is not in the man's interest to promote public libraries, where you can find a myriad of books on almost any subject. If you don't really need it for more than occasional consultation, borrow it, don't buy it. I have a small personal library, which I did weed aggressively before my move to Tyler, and I sure as heck don't spend several thousand dollars on it.
  • "C.E.O. libraries typically lack a Dewey Decimal or even org-chart order. 'My books are organized by topic and interest but in a manner that would make a librarian weep,' Mr. [Michael] Moritz said." As for how I organize my books, that may be the subject of another post. I don't think my humble collection would make a librarian cry.

Anyhow, the article gives a bit of food for thought.

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December 2007
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