Breaking story in today's New York Times, as reported by Harriet Rubin. Stephen Jobs collected Blake! Michael Milkin is a fan of Galileo. Phil Knight has a library of rare works of Asian Poetry and Art History. Darwin is apparently hot among business leaders, as are books on climate change! In comparison, Shelly Lazarus' choices (Meg Wolitzer) sound positively middle-brow. But let's not split hairs. After all, any sign that America's CEO's are reading about something other than lost cheese is good news to me. It's true that Rubin includes a relatively short-list of examples, raising the question that these CEO's might be the exception rather than the rule. (They certainly are in my limited experience.)
But more interesting still, Rubin reports that these CEO's tend to keep their passion for serious literature a secret She doesn't really explain why, though she suggests that the CEO's don't want to reveal the value of their libraries or raise the price of desired tomes. But this explanation doesn't really ring true. Can't these guys and gals buy almost anything they want? And on the scale of their possessions, these books are relatively inexpensive.
Perhaps they are embarrassed? Or just don't want to reveal the source of their strategic ideas? If only we could get a peek at their Amazon wish lists!
It makes me wonder if all my bosses were hiding copies of Ruskin and Tolstoy within dust-jackets of The One Minute Manager and Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. It's hard to believe, but I hope so.