Friday, May 13, 2022

What Are the Top 10 All-Time Novels About Business?

Earlier this month, I came across a fun Wall Street Journal article, "Great Novels About Business: How Much Do You Know?" The article got me thinking about business-themed novels more generally. What are the greatest all-time novels about business? I came across another, related article from that offers the following list of the 10 best classic novels about business:

  1. The Financier by Theodore Dreiser
  2. The Rise of David Levinsky by Abraham Cahan
  3. The Magnificent Ambersons by Both Tarkington
  4. The Old Wives' Tale by Arnold Bennett
  5. The Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann
  6. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
  7. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
  8. JR by William Gaddis
  9. American Pastoral by Philip Roth
  10. Nice Work by David Lodge

I have to admit that I've yet to read a few of these books, and I plan to add them to my summer reading list. But I'm also surprised to find at least one book missing, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  How could we leave Scrooge, Marley, and old Fezziwig off the list..... 

"But you were always a good man of business, Jacob," faultered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.

"Business!" cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. "Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forebearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"

Can you think of other novels that should be added--or some that should be removed from the list above? Please share your thoughts in the comments--and share some lines from your favorite business-themed novels!

Books, John Anderson | Permalink


Bonfire of the Vanities, by Tom Wolfe

Posted by: Walter Effross | May 13, 2022 3:45:29 PM

I must admit to not having read it, but I understand that Moby Dick has much to say about the commercial aspects of the whaling business. I'm told that, although it might not use the word, it involves the concept of "bottomry," a deceptively dirty-sounding word that in fact concerns a traditional form of secured transaction.

Posted by: Walter Effross | May 13, 2022 3:51:29 PM

If you're going to include books about illegal businesses, you'd have to include The Godfather.

Posted by: Walter Effross | May 13, 2022 4:04:05 PM

Walter - there's actually a great paper by David Yosifon on Moby Dick and corporate law:

Posted by: Ann Lipton | May 14, 2022 5:19:21 AM

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