QUICK READ

The Chairman: A Novel by Stephen Frey

As the new chairman of a major private-equity group, Christian Gillette must not only oversee 27 companies and raise $15 billion for a new fund, but has to figure out who murdered his former boss and attempted to kill him at the funeral--before they try again. And you thought Enron was complicated! The mystery unravels slowly over 320 pages, and there are many twists and turns along the way. But Frey's writing is so vivid and the action so fast-paced, you'll want to stick around for the ride. Some scenes--an explosion, a car chase, even an executive dangling from a 42nd-floor balcony--seem straight out of a Jerry Bruckheimer film. But if the story remained as riveting on screen as on paper, it could be a blockbuster. Stay tuned.

All Your Worth by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi

In their last book, "The Two-Income Trap," the mother-and-daughter team recommended social solutions to ease the financial burden on today's middle-class working families. In this 302-page follow-up, the two offer a six-step plan (count dollars, not pennies; build your future, pay off your past) to help individuals get their finances in order. Each step builds on the last, but the authors' "ultimate lifetime money plan" is based on one concept--balance. The ideal budget breakdown: half to "must-haves" like rent and bills, 20 percent to savings and the rest to "wants" (from spa treatments to ski trips). As they point out: even the most fastidious budgeter needs to save room for fun.

A Whole New Mind by Daniel H. Pink

If M.B.A.s were masters of the universe in the last century, this one may be ruled by those with a different credential: the Master of Fine Arts. Pink, who explored the late-'90s explosion of self-employment in his last book--"Free Agent Nation"--concludes that Americans can insulate themselves from offshoring by using their creativity and right-brain thinking skills. The 260-page book is light on economics but long on readable analysis and exercises to build these skills. For soon-to-be liberal-arts grads, it's an encouraging graduation gift.