Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
This is a wonderful treatise on why all we see around us is systematic inequality despite the fact that man was created equal. What particularly impressed me was the depth and quality of the argument, supported by some very interesting data.
Fermat's Enigma by Simon Singh
What I love about this book is that it is presented in a format that would put the best thrillers and suspense novels to shame, a monumental intellectual struggle on a mathematical puzzle that has confounded some of the greatest minds. To me it is a prime example of how a well-told story can bring to life a seemingly dry and arcane subject.
The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
This is no ordinary book on genetics but a powerful drama on how the selfish gene is also the subtle gene. Dawkins makes biology not just accessible but also exciting in his descriptions of how in the world of the gene, both ruthlessness and altruism co-exist.
Positioning: The Battle for the Mind by Al Reis and Jack Trout
This is a classic in understanding how to lay claim to prime real estate in the black box that is the consumer's mind.
Competitive Advantage by Michael E. Porter
For anyone interested in business, this is one book that is hard to ignore. An essential "how-to" set of tools for success.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exup?ry
Ostensibly this is a children's book, but one that appeals to the child in each of us. It is simply told with wonderful illustrations and explores our journey through life with gentle satire, humor, and introspection.
Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam
The Fitzgerald translation has an elegance and economy in exploring enduring themes of love, loss, and the meaning of life. At first the verses seem merely like cleverly constructed sets of rhymes. But as you work your way through the stanzas, the depth of the writing starts to sparkle.
The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
This is a classic that sparked my interest in economics because it demystifies basic concepts (how cool is the term "invisible hand"?) while making a compelling case for free markets.
The Art of War by Sun-Tzu
This book has a powerful set of principles that strike at the heart of understanding competitive advantage, whether in war, business, or life in general. The notions of preparedness and knowing both your strengths and those of your enemy are well explored. This is a must-read to channel your inner cunning.
Leave It to Psmith by P.G. Wodehouse
The entire Wodehouse series (especially some of the Blandings Castle books) and this one, in particular, are about appreciating the absurdities of life and making light of some of life's most banal moments. In my view, everyone needs a go-to book to bring back levity and perspective when life gets both overwhelming and frustrating. This one is mine.
Suchi Chandran is an assistant professor at Boston University's School of Management. She earned her BA in economics from Stella Maris College, Madras India; MBA from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies; and PhD in marketing from New York University. Her research interests are behavioral pricing, online consumer behavior, health marketing and judgments of risk, and social marketing. Chandran teaches consumer behavior.