Business Schools

B-Schoolers Catch Up on Reading


This exhaustive sampling of summer reading lists from some of your B-school peers will help you choose which pages to lose yourself in

Pradeep Inamati

MBA '07

UCLA Anderson School of Management

The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century by Thomas L. Friedman

In this fascinating book, Friedman recounts the recent emerging trends in developing countries such as India and China, and provides insight into how to make business decisions related to globalization. This book is a must-read for those interested in pursuing international careers because it discusses how companies can take advantage of new labor pools, resources, and markets in developing countries. On the other hand, for those who are staying put at home, Friedman's predictions can also offer insight into potential threats and career opportunities. Overall, it's a nice read even during a leisurely summer vacation.

In an Uncertain World: Tough Choices from Wall Street to Washington by Robert Rubin and Jacob Weisberg

Few presidential administrations have faced as many widespread international currency crises as President Clinton's did. Robert Rubin, who served as Secretary of the Treasury under Clinton, summarizes how his financial experience from Wall Street at Goldman Sachs (GS) enabled him to provide advice that prevented or limited the effects of currency crises in developing countries. Rubin's perspective on government and finance sheds light on how you can better analyze problems when the information to make the correct decision is not necessarily clear.

Who Says Elephants Can't Dance?: Leading a Great Enterprise through Dramatic Change by Louis V. Gerstner

Gerstner's direct business style shines through this book, which attempts to show the reader how large companies can perform better if they focus more on core issues and less on following thorny, cumbersome systems. During his tenure at IBM (IBM), Gerstner turned around the company and led its impressive growth by enacting strategies and tactics he learned while consulting for McKinsey. Read this book to learn how you can improve operations at any large enterprise.

The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell

This is not a traditional business book, but insights from ancient European and Asian mythological heroes that can be applied to how you may want to approach business. Campbell has learned several ancient languages from different parts of the world and has broken down the success factors for them. Perhaps not as direct as The Art of War, this book can help any business career, from that of a seasoned executive to a newly minted college grad.

Danny Seo

MBA '07

UCLA Anderson School of Management

The Abs Diet Eat Right Every Time Guide by David Zinczenko and Ted Spiker

While running on an elliptical trainer one morning, I was watching Good Morning America and the author of this book was interviewed. I was intrigued because his book is specifically focused on abs. As an active male, I never worried about what I ate. Well, I am now at the age where my metabolism is slowing down, so I need to know what foods I should be consuming to stay in shape.

Irrational Exuberance by Robert J. Shiller

I've always been interested in psychology and business. I was advised to follow Bob Shiller and his thoughts regarding markets. In this edition, the economist profiles the current real estate market, which is the industry I work in, and the human psyche. Further understanding how psychology plays into markets should be an interesting read.

I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron

In the movie When Harry Met Sally, Meg Ryan's character asks whether she is high maintenance or low maintenance. Harry, Billy Crystal's character, responds: "You're the worst kind. You're high maintenance but you think you're low maintenance."

Anyone who is genius enough to conceive such a brilliant line and universal truth must have a book that is worth reading! Many things about women absolutely crack me up, so to read Nora Ephron's thoughts should be fun…I hope.

Bringing Down the House: How Six Students Took Vegas for Millions by Ben Mezrich

No, I am not a gambler, but who didn't enjoy the movie Revenge of the Nerds? I've heard about this book and actually watched a brief documentary about the students from MIT who outsmarted Las Vegas and won millions. The fact that they went to MIT and are by default assumed to be intelligent is meaningless to me. However, the fact that they were daring enough to try to take Vegas fascinates me. These are the types of people I want to spend time reading about.

Ely Dahan

Assistant Professor of Marketing

UCLA Anderson School of Management

I have recently bought a few books about Web 2.0: Wikinomics, Open Business Models, and Democratizing Innovation. The idea that future products and services will be designed by customers instead of companies is an intriguing possibility indeed.

For fun, The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon, about the "frozen Chosen" in Alaska, sounds pretty good. As does Walter Isaacson's Einstein, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, and Michael Connelly's The Overlook.

Caroline Allen

Class of 2007

Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

I'm reading this for pleasure; I like historical fiction and this book is a well-written, fast-paced variation of that genre.

The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis

This is a classic in Christian literature that I have been meaning to read for awhile, but that I wanted to read at a time when I could be reflective and slowly digest it. This summer should provide that time.

Bearing the Cross by David Garrow

This is a nonfiction book about Martin Luther King Jr. We read a little bit of it in one of our leadership classes and I was so moved by it. I'm looking forward to reading the rest.

The Successor by Stephen Frey

This one is written by a private equity executive who also finds time to write best-selling novels. I interacted with him during my summer internship in PE and enjoyed reading his previous books. He writes fictional stories that take place within the PE industry.

Series 7 study materials!

Sydney Finkelstein

Professor of Management

Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth

Alice Waters and Chez Panisse by Thomas McNamee

Alice Waters started a revolution in American restaurants by insisting on organic products sourced from local growers and providers. Today, this is standard fare in top restaurants around the country. I'm interested in understanding this person who had the temerity to change how we eat, and insist on it regardless of the consequences. This is leadership, after all.

Heat by Bill Buford

There are few chefs in America today with the persona of Mario Batali, who presides over several leading restaurants around the country, including the flagship Babbo in New York. What makes this book especially interesting is Buford's personal path, which starts when he works in the kitchen at Babbo to learn about Mario—but he learns even more about himself. It's a story about changing your life via total immersion in Mario's world. Fascinating idea.

Steven Lubrano

Assistant Dean of Administration

Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth

The Unwritten Laws of Business by W. J. King, with revisions and additions by James G. Skakoon

This very short treatise provides obvious yet oft neglected observations about how we should act on the job. This book reminds us of the important things that are usually lost to the minutiae of the day.

David F. Pyke

Associate Dean MBA Program

Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth

Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson

Larson writes excellent histories, weaving personal stories with fascinating historical events. I just finished Thunderstruck, which was superb, and The Devil in the White City was as well.

The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell

Vowell also writes history, but in an exceptionally humorous way, with frequent excursions to quirky observations and facts.

Any mystery by P. D. James

I read my first novel of hers, The Children of Men, which was a fascinating critique of modern culture—unlike the film, which was quite different. I'm looking forward to reading other works of hers.

Bernd Schmitt

Professor

Columbia University Graduate School of Business

Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein

The Amazon description sounds fabulous: "It's Philosophy 101 for everyone who knows not to take all this heavy stuff too seriously. Some of the Big Ideas are Existentialism (what do Hegel and Bette Midler have in common?), Philosophy of Language (how to express what it's like being stranded on a desert island with Halle Berry), Feminist Philosophy (why, in the end, a man is always a man), and much more."

A sense of (dialectical) humor is key in life. And we all (including MBA students and business profs) need to free ourselves at times from the existential pain of our habitual existence. Why not read about Plato, Kant, and Halle Berry then? Sounds like a great legitimate distraction.

An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore

I know he's coming out with a new book. But I haven't even read his big seller yet. Look, I am not a global warming activist or a granola (though I was born in Germany). I wear my hair long because it is in style now, not as a political statement. Environmentalism, however, has become such a huge issue in the U.S. and this book is part of the movement. Thus, I consider it a must-read for any informed citizen.

Breaking Ground: An Immigrant's Journey from Poland to Ground Zero by Daniel Libeskind

I love reading biographies written by people I've met. Recently, I was on a panel on branding with Libeskind, the architect of the Freedom Tower, and I was amazed by how an architect and marketing professor can think alike. I also love one of his latest buildings, a new wing of the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. So, I want to know more about the man behind it.

Jerry Wind

Professor

Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania

Success Built to Last: Creating a Life That Matters by Jerry Porras, Stewart Emery, and Mark Thompson

Success Built to Last is based on a unique World Success Survey, as well as in-depth interviews with people from all walks of life who have impacted the world for at least two decades. The more than 200 people interviewed for the book include billionaires, CEOs, presidents, social workers, artists, the famous, and the unknown. According to this book, success is no longer only about money, power, and fame—it is a result of having passionate personal commitments to things one cares about. Read it to learn how to achieve lasting impact, a balanced life, and personal fulfillment.

The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid by CK Prahalad

Before the world was flat, there was The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid. In this book, CK Prahalad, one of the world's top 10 management thinkers, offers a blueprint for driving the radical innovations you'll need to profit in emerging markets, and how to use those innovations to become more competitive everywhere. These stories are backed by more detailed case studies and 10 hours of digital videos on the publisher's Web site.

Self-Destructive Habits of Good Companies by Jagdish N. Sheth

Why do so many good companies engage in self-destructive behavior? This book identifies seven dangerous habits even well-run companies fall victim to and helps you diagnose and break these habits before they destroy you. Through case studies from some of yesterday's most widely praised corporate icons, you'll learn how companies slip into "addiction" and slide off the rails, and how to avoid the same through specific, detailed techniques for curing every one of these self-destructive habits.

Change to Strange by Daniel M. Cable

To achieve sustained competitive advantage, you must create and deliver something that's valuable, rare, and hard to imitate—and you can't do that with a run-of-the-mill workforce. Your workforce needs to be strikingly different, obsessively focused on delivering your unique value proposition—your people need to be downright strange! This book is about understanding exactly how your workforce needs to be different, creating an end-to-end Strange Workforce Value Chain, implementing workforce systems that support your unique goals, and establishing detailed metrics based on what makes you unique in order to use those metrics to drive clarity throughout your entire organization and steer it toward success.

Capitalism at the Crossroads by Stuart L. Hart

Global capitalism stands at a crossroads, facing terrorism, environmental destruction, and an antiglobalization backlash. Today's global companies are at a crossroads, too, searching desperately for new sources of profitable growth. Capitalism at the Crossroads, Second Edition is about solving both of those problems at the same time. With a new foreword by Al Gore, new and updated case studies, and the latest corporate responses to climate change, this book points the way toward a capitalism that's more inclusive, more welcome, and far more successful for both companies and communities worldwide.

Wealth by Stuart E. Lucas

More of us have created more wealth today than ever before. Managing our retirement assets is increasingly our own responsibility, and America is bracing for the largest intergenerational transfer of wealth in history. Written by experienced investment professional Stuart Lucas, Carnation heir and now manager of his family's fortune, Wealth provides the tools and information you need to take charge of your money, so that it and your advisers are working toward achieving your goals. The lessons of this book apply whether you have $100,000 or $100 million, and whether your goal is to safeguard assets to last your lifetime or to create a financial legacy that will continue for generations.

Peter Rodriguez

Professor

Darden School of Business, University of Virginia

Capital Ideas Evolving by Peter L. Bernstein

Few authors capture the attention of the academic set as readily at Peter Bernstein. Like previous works, his latest take on the application of the best ideas—from academic economics and finance to the practices of trading and banking—is a must-read. Books like Bernstein's not only tell us where the rubber meets the road with regard to financial theory-building, but also give us an exhilarating look into the haphazard process by which theory becomes practice. This latest book targets the newer theories of behavioral finance that have been around for a while in some form, but have really hit their stride as of late. With Bernstein, one always has the sense that they're getting an insider's look at the future.

Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson

This book should make it to the top of most summer reading lists. It speaks to the forces that keep us repeating harmful mistakes, whether it's an everyday personal issue or an organization-wide problem. The consequences of rationalization and attempts at self-preservation through denial are daunting and can be personally devastating. I'm interested in reading this book for a deeper window into my own behavior, but also for insight into the reasons that corruption persists around the world and vexes so many organizational and individual efforts to fight it.

Global Capitalism: Its Fall and Rise in the Twentieth Century by Jeffry A. Frieden

By the title, it's plain that Jeffry Frieden is recounting 20th century capitalism with an eye toward lessons learned. Though we've heard quite a lot about this subject, we need to hear much more. History humbles academics and policymakers every day, but Frieden is more clever than most. I'm reading this book to help me think about how we might progress to a form of global capitalism that manages the voids in governance and the risks of a world economy that is better but quite different than anyone imagined just a few decades ago. I'm also an economic history buff and can't wait to read a smart academic's take on a century of commercial tumult and change.

The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down by Colin Woodard

Much as I enjoy the blockbuster Hollywood take on the age of pirates, the nerd in me always wants the truth behind the glamour. Beyond the obviously compelling subject matter of pirates, gold, and adventure, Woodward's book should offer insight into a theme that stretches beyond the days of Davy Jones: lawlessness and attempts to create order. In a hyperconnected age with watchful eyes everywhere, it's hard to imagine a world with scant communication, no objective records to speak of, and powerful, violent groups grappling over largely uncharted waters. Adventures and adventurers like these don't seem to exist anymore, but the challenge of creating order where there is none still does. Plus, it's a book about pirates—how cool is that?

Michelle L. Buck

Academic Director of Executive Education

Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

Five Minds for the Future by Howard Gardner

In teaching leadership in our MBA and executive courses, I already draw heavily from Gardner's previous research on the lives of extraordinary leaders. In his latest book, he suggests that what is most essential for success in the future is certain ways of thinking. He writes about the disciplinary mind, the synthesizing mind, the creating mind, the respectful mind, and the ethical mind. I'm excited to read this book for inspiring ideas to transform management education—leadership is, indeed, about certain mindsets, about asking courageous questions, and seeing new possibilities. What are the ways we need to think differently, what are the questions we need to be asking to lead and create value in the future, and what does this mean for the education of future business leaders? These are questions that excite me and make me want to stay up late to read.

A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel H. Pink

I'm looking forward to reading this one for similar reasons, as it also addresses different ways of thinking that are necessary for success and for leadership in the future. It was recommended by someone I respect, who sees things from an interdisciplinary perspective, and with whom I enjoy talking about innovative methods of teac


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