When billionaire talk-show queen Oprah Winfrey affixes her coveted initial to the cover of a book, it’s a guarantee of huge sales. But what are the über-rich really reading? For that, consider J.P. Morgan’s summer reading list, which after 11 straight years has come to be known as the billionaires’ book club.
Each year, J.P. Morgan polls its worldwide battalion of bankers to come up with 450 non-fiction books, which a committee then whittles down to a list of 10 titles it sends out to its private banking clients. The goal of the list, a spokesman told the Wall Street Journal, is to uncover books that “capture the essence of our clients’ personal and professional lives.” In other words, books they can enjoy while cruising the Caribbean or curled up on the porch at their estates in the Hamptons.
To that end, readers of this year’s list will get a dose of how the mind of the entrepreneur works when building great companies like Facebook, and what it took to halt the collapse of capitalism. Kids of the wealthy, chafing under their parents’ expectations, might learn a thing or two from the son of Warren Buffett, while eco-millionaires are treated to an anthem of essays on the value of H2O. There’s even some Canadian content, with a book on Research in Motion, the Waterloo, Ont., maker of the BlackBerry.
This summer’s books include: On the Brink: Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse of the Global Financial System by Henry M. Paulson, Jr.; Life is What You Make It: Find Your Own Path to Fulfillment by Peter Buffett; The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That is Connecting the World by David Kirkpatrick; Written in Water: Messages of Hope for Earth’s Most Precious Resource by Irena Salina; Mark Twain: Man in White by Michael Shelden; BlackBerry: The Inside Story of Research in Motion by Rod McQueen; The Principles of Thai Cookery by Chef McDang; Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong by Terry Teachout; Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century by Peter Galassi; Fine Wines: The Best Vintages Since 1900 by Michel Dovaz.
Will reading these books imbue one with the characteristics necessary to become stinking rich? Hardly. But it can’t hurt.