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Business literature 

Over at billingsblog, David Crisp is planning to teach an introductory business course based on literature, and is looking for suggestions. I'm not sure this is a good idea -- students taking an introductory business course probably need to know how to write a business plan, not what some writer once thought about business -- but it does make for a fun exercise. Here are my thoughts:

Michael Lewis' "The New New Thing" is a captivating and relatively positive view of Silicon Valley. Compared to Tracy Kidder's classic "The Soul of a New Machine," I found Lewis a little too trendy, but students would probably prefer a little trendiness to a book (Kidder's) that was written before they were born.

Lots of books (including some Crisp has already thought of) cover corporate crime. Two of my favorites are Jonathan Harr's "A Civil Action" and James B. Stewart's "Den of Theives." But too much of this approach would be like teaching a course on relationships by reading "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

Literary types refuse to acknowledge it, but there's a huge segment of the book market devoted to business. Whether it's advice, memoir, or management theory, these are the kinds of books that students in such courses may well grow up to read. One of the better recent ones -- and with a great local connection -- is David Stauffer's "D2D: Dinosaur to Dynamo."

Finally, the protagonist of Nicholson Baker's "The Mezzanine" is as happy a literary businessperson as I've ever come across.

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