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11 books Harvard Business School professors are reading and recommending this summer

August 09,2018 00:18

If you're looking for your next great read, below you'll find eleven books Harvard Business School faculty are reading and recommending in the summer of 2018. You might be surprised to find that the list is hardly a roll call of weighty, dusty tomes ...and more »

11 books Harvard Business School professors are reading and recommending this summer - Business Insider

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There are more books in the world than you can possibly read in a lifetime. This fact forces us into a stressful position: which books are we going to pick to fill our shelves, minds, and inform our opinions? It's enough to corner you into analysis paralysis.
This is where reading recommendations come in handy, and especially when they come from some of the most well-respected minds in the country. If you're looking for your next great read, below you'll find 11 books Harvard Business School faculty are reading and recommending in the summer of 2018.
You might be surprised to find that the list is hardly a roll call of weighty, dusty tomes. In the true spirit of an informed worldview, the recommendations range from 19th century England, mid-century America, and a modern-day fantasy book written by a former student, and topics span technology, history, and fiction. The wide, interdisciplinary perspectives provide a richer outlook and more dexterous approach to business, work, and the world.
Descriptions are provided by Amazon and edited for length.
11 books Harvard Business School faculty are reading and recommending:

1/
“Parting the Waters” by Taylor Branch

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"Taylor Branch's Pulitzer-prize winning history of the civil rights movement under King, ' Parting the Waters ', is serious, essential reading for those interested in the momentous events of the late 1950s and early 1960s and of King's role in leading them." - Professor Nancy Koehn
Description: In volume one of his "America in the King Years", Pulitzer Prize winner Taylor Branch gives a masterly account of the American civil rights movement.
Moving from the fiery political baptism of Martin Luther King, Jr., to the corridors of Camelot where the Kennedy brothers weighed demands for justice against the deceptions of J. Edgar Hoover, here is a vivid tapestry of America, torn and finally transformed by a revolutionary struggle unequaled since the Civil War.

2/
“Contagious: Why Things Catch On” by Jonah Berger

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"[This] book really taps into the psychology of virality." - Professor Tsedal Neeley
Description: Why do certain products and ideas go viral? Dynamic young Wharton professor Jonah Berger draws on his research to explain the six steps that make products or ideas contagious.

5/
“Robert Kennedy: His Life” by Evan Thomas

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"2018 is the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and of Robert F. Kennedy. In recognition of this, I have been reading about the work of both these leaders...[This book and ' Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon' ] explore the aggression and ruthlessness of Kennedy's early years as well as the compassion and wisdom he grew into after John Kennedy's death in 1963." - Professor Nancy Koehn
Description: He was "Good Bobby," who, as his brother Ted eulogized him, "saw wrong and tried to right it... saw suffering and tried to heal it." And "Bad Bobby," the ruthless and manipulative bully of countless conspiracy theories. Thomas's unvarnished but sympathetic and fair-minded portrayal is packed with new details about Kennedy's early life and his behind-the-scenes machinations, including new revelations about the 1960 and 1968 presidential campaigns, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and his long struggles with J. Edgar Hoover and Lyndon Johnson.

6/
“Exit West” by Mohsin Hamid

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"Mohsin Ahmed's ' Exit West ' is a great fiction read, especially with everything going on in the world at the moment." - Professor Mihir Desai
Description: A New York Times bestseller, the astonishingly visionary love story that imagines the forces that drive ordinary people from their homes into the uncertain embrace of new lands.
"Exit West" follows... remarkable characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.

7/
“David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens

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"I've always loved what English professors call the bildungsroman (the novel of growing up and, for better or worse, becoming the person you are e.g., Emma , Portrait of the Artist , The Magic Mountain , The Adventures of Augie March , and so on). And I have somehow never read ' David Copperfield ', which begins with this irresistible sentence: 'Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.' We should print that, as a reminder and an invocation, on each HBS diploma." - Professor Frank Cespedes.
Description: Dickens called David Copperfield his "favourite child," and many critics consider the novel to be one of his best depictions of childhood. Set in early Victorian England against a backdrop of great social change, Dickens acutely observed the phenomena of the Industrial Revolution and used them as the canvas on which he painted the novel.

9/
“Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon” by Larry Tye

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"One closes all three of these books [ Robert Kennedy: His Life ; Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon ; and Parting Waters ] struck by the volatility and chaos of America in the 1960s and of the tragedy of both King and Bobby Kennedy's early deaths (King was 39; Kennedy was 42), two men who sought to heal the nation's wounds and unite its citizens." - Professor Nancy Koehn
Description : Bare-knuckle operative, cynical White House insider, romantic visionary—Robert F. Kennedy was all of these things at one time or another, and each of these aspects of his personality emerges in the pages of this powerful and perceptive biography.

10/
“Bourgeois Equality” by Deirdre N. McCloskey https://amzn.to/2OSmcLb

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"[This is] the final volume of Deirdre McCloskey's trilogy. McCloskey is an economic historian who develops a fervent defense of classical free-market liberalism, its values of liberty and dignity for commoners (i.e., the despised 'bourgeoisie' of 19th century novels, 20th century socialists, and 21st century hipsters), and how those values have increased human opportunity, personal rights, and global well-being over the past 200 years.
Her story focuses on the role of 'ideas of betterment' and attitudes toward others' success, and the perennial fragility of how those ideas and behaviors 'are sustained in social ethics — a continually renegotiated dance.' Having read the first two volumes (' Bourgeois Virtues ' and ' Bourgeois Dignity '), I find that, this time, the publisher's blurb is accurate: 'a fact in every sentence, an idea on every page' and in prose that is witty, lucid, acerbic but respectful — a combination of Dickens and the best-read CFO you've ever met." - Professor Frank Cespedes
Description: There's little doubt that most humans today are better off than their forebears. Stunningly so, the economist and historian Deirdre McCloskey argues in the concluding volume of her trilogy celebrating the oft-derided virtues of the bourgeoisie. The poorest of humanity, McCloskey shows, will soon be joining the comparative riches of Japan and Sweden and Botswana.
Why? Most economists - from Adam Smith and Karl Marx to Thomas Piketty - say the Great Enrichment since 1800 came from accumulated capital. McCloskey disagrees - fiercely. "Our riches," she argues, "were made not by piling brick on brick, bank balance on bank balance, but by piling idea on idea." Capital was necessary, but so was the presence of oxygen. It was ideas, not matter, that drove "trade-tested betterment". Nor were institutions the drivers.

11/
“Children of Blood and Bone” by Tommy Adeyemi

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"Most of all, I'm looking forward to trying young adult fiction so that I can read a former student's breakout hit: ' Children of Blood and Bone ' by Tomi Adeyemi." - Professor Mihir Desai
Description: In "Children of Blood and Bone", Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut.

1/
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