If anyone knows business and books, it’s Gary Hoover, founder of BookStop, the first book superstore, and founder and CEO of Hoover’s Inc., a leading online provider of business information. Hoover is also an author (Hoover’s Vision: Original Thinking for Business Success, Texere) and avid reader (he has a 40,000-volume library). American Way asked for his must-reads for the savvy business person.

To hone curiosity and revamp thought patterns, Michael Gelb’s How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci (Dell Publishing), which “brings out the inner Renaissance person.” Also Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott (new edition annotated by Ian Stewart from Perseus Publishing), a mathematical and satirical novel first published in 1884, and Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities (Harcourt).

“The ultimate strategy and marketing book” is Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout (McGraw-Hill).

The seminal work on management by “the man who did the most to create the modern corporation” is My Years with General Motors by
Alfred P. Sloan (Doubleday), which Hoover calls “the single most essential business book.” Another good business history is Fire in the Valley: The Making of the Personal Computer by Paul Freiberger and Michael Swaine (McGraw-Hill). “This book makes you realize that business history is shaped by ordinary people like you and me.”

To understand trends that shape our lives and businesses, The First Measured Century by Theodore Caplow (AEI Press) and It’s Getting Better All the Time by Stephen Moore and Julian L. Simon (Cato Institute).