Summer 2009 Books: MBA Reading List

Posted by: Francesca Di Meglio on June 29, 2009

By Francesca Di Meglio
BusinessWeek recently asked professors and students what books they would recommend for summer reading. The lists were used to generate a summer reading list featuring 10 interesting books that were relevant to the times MBAs and aspiring MBAs are facing in 2009. With the economic crisis unfolding, businesspeople benefit from every additional bit of knowledge they have. Books can unlock different perspectives and cultures and spark new ideas and thought-provoking conversations. Reading is a way, basically, to expand your education without spending money on tuition. Here, are the complete summer reading lists from those who responded:

The Zell-Lurie Institute at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business (Ross School Profile) created a list of summer reading recommendations, which is available online.

From James W. Dean Jr., dean of the UNC-Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School (Kenan-Flagler School Profile)

Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela (Steck-Vaughn, September 2000) by Nelson Mandela
Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West (Simon and Schuster, June 1997) by Stephen Ambrose
My Losing Season: A Memoir (The Dial Press, August 2003) by Pat Conroy
Don Quixote (Harper Perennial, April 2005) by Miguel De Cervantes
The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World (Rodale Books, March 2009) by Jacqueline Novogratz

From Eric Bradlow, professor of marketing, statistics, and education at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School (Wharton School Profile)

Number Crunchers
The Numerati (Mariner Books, September 2009) by Stephen Baker
Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less (Harper Perennial, January 2005) by Barry Schwartz
Marketing for Financial Advisors (McGraw-Hill, June 2009) by Eric Bradlow

From Ninda Shinde, student at London School of Business (London School Profile)

Outliers: The Story of Success (Little, Brown and Company, November 2008) by Malcolm Gladwell
Stumbling on Happiness (Vintage, March 2007) by Daniel Gilbert
Game-Changing Strategies: How to Create New Market Space in Established Industries by Breaking the Rules (Jossey-Bass, May 2008) by Constantinos C. Markides
The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (Random House, April 2007) by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
What I Talk about When I Talk about Running (Vintage, August 2009) by Haruki Murakami

From the Impact Consulting Group at the University of Toronto Rotman School of Management (Rotman School Profile)

The Ascent of Money (Penguin Press, November 2008) by Niall Ferguson
Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science (W.W. Norton & Co., September 2003) by Charles Wheelan
Outliers: The Story of Success (Little, Brown and Company, November 2008) by Malcolm Gladwell
The Finance Crisis and Rescue: What Went Wrong? What Lessons Can Be Learned? by the Rotman School
Yes We Did! An Inside Look at How Social Media Built the Obama Brand (Voices That Matter) (New Riders Press, May 2009) by Rahaf Harfoush

From Kevin Martin, University of Virginia Darden School of Business (Darden School Profile) Class of 2010 executive vice president of the Student Association

Outliers: The Story of Success (Little, Brown and Company, November 2008) by Malcolm Gladwell
The Snowball: Warren Buffet and the Business of Life (Bantam, September 2008) by Alice Schroeder
Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, September 1998) by Spencer Johnson
How to Win Friends & Influence People (Pocket, 1998) by Dale Carnegie

What books would you put on your summer reading list? Let us know which books you'd recommend reading this summer by leaving a comment here.

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Reader Comments

MBA Podcaster

June 29, 2009 02:19 PM

Great list! I'm certainly going to look into some of these this summer.

We've also got a great list of MBA Must-Reads recommended by b-school admissions consultants, professors and authors at


June 29, 2009 03:59 PM

In light of our economic/financial crisis, I would heartily recommend Jim Collins's How the Mighty Fall.


June 29, 2009 04:22 PM

There is more reading list fun to come. BW will soon be posting a story featuring the 10 books from these lists that we thought were worth of extra special attention. Also, why would you recommend the Jim Collins book? What is it about the book that makes great for these times? I'm curious to hear your thoughts. Thanks!

Greg Paulson

June 30, 2009 06:33 AM

Francesca, my pick is a book I read recently while over in the UK (the book doesn’t seem to be available in the US, at least not on Amazon). The book, Why your boss is programmed to be a dictator, provides a truly revolutionary and paradigm-shifting way of looking at the issue of leadership. It uses ‘systems thinking’ to show how rather than the ‘leader’ being the central aspect of leadership, it’s actually the system (as defined by systems thinking).

The non-academic title and writing style mask what’s actually a serious piece of work with profound implications for the way in which boss-subordinate roles are structured. The chapter on the intelligence agencies’ failure on the issue of Saddam’s WMDs is particularly enlightening.

Reading the book was like having a veil lifted in terms of understanding both boss and subordinate behaviors. A must-read for sure, IMHO.

Marcella McCarthy

July 5, 2009 11:12 PM

"Pour your Heart into It" (the Starbucks story). I've never read a book with so much passion and no room for failure!

Mark Biddle

July 8, 2009 02:08 PM

Would certainly recommend "Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace….One School at a Time" by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. It demonstrates the value of experiential learning and the importance of building relationships not to mention the importance of a bit of luck.


July 8, 2009 09:51 PM

Fooled by Randomness, Nassem Taleb


July 8, 2009 09:53 PM

Fooled by Randomness, Nassem Taleb


July 9, 2009 01:23 PM

Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office - Lois Frankel

Jeremy Webber

July 13, 2009 03:35 PM

a bit of an older title, but Dan Goleman's "Primal Leadership" is pretty good in understanding how one's emotional IQ is essential to being the best leader one can be


July 23, 2009 04:45 PM

This is the best blog and reading list:


August 8, 2009 02:40 AM

Thanks so much for this list! Business school isn't in my near future, but I am sure that these books will help me once I am ready!


March 16, 2010 06:57 AM

i love the content .Thanks for sharing

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