If you’re looking to broaden your accountancy knowledge or simply get inspired, there are many excellent books to pique your curiosity. We’ve put together a list of non-fiction books every accountant should read. These titles, mostly within the sphere of finance, business, and economy, will challenge your way of thinking and provide new tools, or, at the very least, quality conversation starters.
While we firmly believe these books are a good fit for both professional and amateur accountants, it makes sense to explore as many opinions as possible before you decide on your next read. To make it easier, we’ve included scores and links to reviews from Goodreads and Amazon.
1. “Principles: Life and Work”
by Ray Dalio
Ray Dalio is the founder and CEO of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund. As of April 2018, the fund manages a whopping $160 billion. This book, Principles, offers us some unique insights into the reasons behind the success of this self-made billionaire.
The book is split into two sections covering Dalio’s life and work and is a great read about his failures and successes along the way. The first half of the book is a fascinating memoir on how Dalio has risen to become one of the wealthies men in America. The second half of the book is littered with actionable steps on how to achieve success in your personal and working life, using techniques Dalio has found to be effective.
Through Dalio’s captivating prose, you’ll read about what he’s learned throughout his life and career, in an inspiring book that offers a treasure chest of information.
2. “E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What To Do About It”
by Michael E. Gerber
It’s a sad fact, but four in ten small businesses in the UK cease trading within the first five years. Michael E. Gerber, the author of E-Myth Revisited, aims to tackle the question of why this is, and what you can do about it.
To ensure a profitable and sustainable business, Gerber believes the key is to transform the business owner themselves. Notably, Gerber walks readers through the difference between working on your business rather than working in it and what it takes to be a successful business owner.
This is a must-read for any business owner or a budding entrepreneur, or for accountants who are looking to get a better understanding of what makes a company successful.
3. “Financial Shenanigans: How to Detect Accounting Gimmicks & Fraud in Financial Reports”
by Howard M. Schilit, Jeremy Perler and Yoni Engelhart
Authors Schilit, Perler and Engelhart have written an engaging book about detective accounting in their work Financial Shenanigans. The book is well-written and provides accessible, real-life examples of accounting gimmicks in plain English, revealing shenanigans that have fooled even the most experienced auditors.
The book is filled to the brim with useful tools and case studies to equip you with the knowledge to identify early warning signs of a company’s fraudulent behaviour. This fun book would fit well as required reading for all investors, accountants or finance professionals.
4. “Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits!: 4 Keys to Unlock Your Business Potential”
by Greg Crabtree
A jam-packed book, author Greg Crabtree will take you on a methodical journey on the essential financial techniques needed to efficiently run a small business. The book is primarily focused on small business owners, who, as we reported recently, often manage taxes on their own. We’re pretty sure that those who study financial statements professionally will benefit from this book as well, also by learning how to explain accounting in plain language.
This outstanding work provides a wealth of information on small business accounting and financing. It deftly turns complex subject matter into easily digestible text that you’ll find yourself referring to time and time again.
5. “Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything”
by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
An iconic book that takes a long hard look at the basic building blocks of economics: incentives. The authors Levitt and Dubner look at how incentives often drive people to cheat. The book has fantastic in-depth examples of the role of incentives in our society and how they may be seen in certain groups within society that you might not expect.
For example, the first case study looks at why schoolteachers in Chicago were driven by incentives to change their students’ answers so that the teachers were not penalized for poor test results. The authors cleverly weave in economic principles and themes in a new and intriguing way.
The book goes on to discuss intriguing topics such as why the Ku Klux Klan might be similar to a real estate agent, or why legalized abortion might result in a drop in crime rates.
Although there is no unified takeaway from the book, Freakonomics provides new and useful tools for any engaged member of society. For accountants and those who work in finance, the book will aid a new way of thinking about the world around you and will provide new tools for interpreting different situations.
Bonus: If you enjoy the book, don’t forget to check out the accompanying Freakonomics podcast!
6. “Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine”
by Mike Michalowicz
Michalowicz’s Profit First system flips traditional accounting on its head in this practical, yet often amusing, book. Traditionally, conventional accounting uses the formula: Sales – Expenses = Profit. Instead, the author suggests taking a more behavioural approach: Sales – Profit = Expenses.
The concept is quite simple, but Michalowicz shows us that the result is quite profound!
This book provides an alternative financial management process that may be of interest to entrepreneurs or to accountants who are looking for a different approach to managing money. The book is written in layman terms and provides numerous effective processes to manage cash-flow and to drive more profit ultimately.
7. “Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty”
by Daron Acemoğlu and James A. Robinson
Having a good understanding of a wide spectrum of mechanisms that drive the world’s economy is crucial for all people in the finance and accounting industries. One of the most renowned titles that delve into this topic is “Why Nations Fail” by Daron Acemoğlu and James A. Robinson.
Acemoğlu (MIT) and Robinson (University of Chicago) take readers on an insightful journey based on 15 years of research attempting to answer one of the biggest dilemmas of our times: Why are some nations prosperous, while others are poverty-stricken? Why these differences between nations continue to exist throughout centuries?