Ethics: The Warden by Anthony Trollope. A good man gets trapped in an ethical dilemma.
Ambition: Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. It may be impossible to avoid feeling sympathetic as Brutus is led into betrayal.
Eccentricity: A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. Ignatius J. Reilly is pushed from his Big Chief tablets and his lute into the world of work.
Weasels: What Makes Sammy Run? by Budd Schulberg. A wag once noted you're either fighting Sammy Glick or you are Sammy Glick.
Philosophy: A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe. A businessman falls on hard times and discovers Epictetus.
Power plays: I, Claudius by Robert Graves. When Caligula is in the family, you'd better be power-savvy.
Leadership: The Aubrey-Maturin series of books by Patrick O'Brian. There's a reason why O'Brian was invited to lunch at the Pentagon with the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Insane workplaces: Company by Max Barry, Something Happened by Joseph Heller, and Catch-22 by Heller. You will find something familiar in each of these books.
Litigation: Bleak House by Charles Dickens. Who really won the case of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce?
Teams: The Ascent of Rum Doodle by W. E. Bowman. An extremely funny book about a climbing expedition.
Destructive personnel practices: Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. There are many Willy Lomans, and they deserve better than they get.
The dignity of work: Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry. This tale of a small-town barber is beautiful and uplifting.
Michael Wade writes Execupundit.com, an eclectic combination of management advice, observations, and links. A partner with the Phoenix firm of Sanders Wade Rodarte Consulting Inc., he has advised private and public-sector organizations for more than 30 years.