The passing year was a particularly bountiful one in terms of the fascinating books it brought forth. Whether for your own edification or as holiday gifts, you may wish to choose from among these diverse gems:

1. Excepting only the Internet, the greatest technological innovation of modern times is the synthesis of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, which has revolutionized the production of shale hydrocarbons—most notably natural gas—and bids fair to revitalize the American manufacturing economy. While there is still no one book that takes in the whole phenomenon for me, I offer two that were published this year, and recommend they be read in tandem.

They are The Frackers by Gregory Zuckerman, which is essentially a series of parallel lives of the major actors in this defining moment, and The Boom by Russell Gold, which goes somewhat deeper into the geology and the engineering, to good effect. (Both authors are reporters for The Wall Street Journal.) For those of us intensely interested in the shale revolution and its long-term economic and geopolitical implications for our country, The Frackers taken together with The Boom becomes one very helpful book.

2. As a self-confessed economics geek, I can never be perfectly sure, but I think you will be both enlightened and charmed by Diane Coyle’s little (140 pages) volume GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History. It is, as the title suggests, an accessible history of the effort to quantify national income, beginning seriously in the 1930s under Simon Kuznets and accelerating after WWII with the advent of the computer. Ms. Coyle deftly renders the extent to which the growing conceit that GDP could be very finely calibrated may have led to the illusion that national income could be effectively managed by government fiscal policy. Instead, she finds any number of assumptions, anomalies and ambiguities in GDP accounting which impeach its accuracy and hence its utility. Great, geeky fun.

3. As someone who entered the business in the first great era of mass-marketed mutual funds in the 1960s, I particularly loved Michael R. Yogg’s short, very readable book Passion for Reality: The Extraordinary Life of the Investing Pioneer Paul Cabot. Cabot, from one of the oldest and wealthiest families in Boston, was the founder of one of the first mutual funds, State Street Investment Corporation. If you can believe it, he was also—even while running State Street—the treasurer of Harvard University, and the person responsible for managing its endowment. Cabot was a superb investor, a legendary director of companies (on a par with his great friend Sidney Weinberg), and a pioneer in bringing professionally managed investing within reach of the common man. All advisors interested in the development of their craft will profit from—and richly enjoy—this lovely book.

4. I read with interest Brad Stone’s The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon. It’s an authoritative, fast-moving and well-written account of one of the age’s leading entrepreneurs and the revolution he has wrought. Though many of the supporting players come and go rapidly in the book—as early recruits get rich and/or burn out—the somewhat enigmatic central character abides. If at the end of the book I still had no idea when or how Amazon is ever going to become consistently profitable, The Everything Store was nonetheless a very worthwhile and entertaining read.