Top-Drawer Business Books 2017

It is that time again. For years, Swystun Communications has been sharing its annual “Top-Drawer” business book list. Other rankings are too narrow in definition. As Robert Weider said, “Anyone can look for fashion in a boutique or history in a museum. The creative person looks for history in a hardware store and fashion in an airport.”

Our list is less traditional. Often it includes, and is sometimes dominated by, books not categorized as “business”. We avoid books promising four-hour workweeks because they are fables, over-simplified and prescriptive how-to works that are vacuous and dangerous, and so-called inspirational books that are trite, lite and ineffectual. These are tossed aside when one bumps into the blunt adversities in actual commerce.

The list includes books released in 2017 that are top-of-mind, notable, relevant, well written, applicable, thought-provoking, and innovative. Our last bit of criteria makes the selections tougher to determine and that is timelessness of content. Remember, life is too short to drink cheap scotch or to read books that are not Top-Drawer. So keep these selections within easy reach for repeated reference.

The One Device by Brian Merchant

The iPhone X is out and geeks salivate at its new features. Meanwhile, more and more studies show that smartphones are influencing and changing our behaviour in ways that concern sociologists, the medical profession, and parents of teens glued to the device (many adults are adhered as well).

Merchant’s book will appeal to phone lovers and those who wonder where this tech will lead. The book is an analysis of both the enormous cultural impact of the device and a history of its manufacturing process. It was on the shortlist for the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Books of the Year.

Supposedly, the book was ten years in the making. It strays too much to celebration but is still excellent. We recommend turning off your phone and reading the hardcover version just to be retro-analog for a short time.

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