Top Summer Reads For Future Biz Majors

With summer in full swing, it’s a good time to dust off the books and get some summer reading done. 

We spoke to deans at some of the top B-schools around the country to see what books they recommend to incoming and current B-school students.

“Educated: A Memoir” by Tara Westover

Why I recommend this book: Author Tara Westover tells the story of her life growing up with no formal education in a survivalist household, and how she eventually completed her doctorate at Cambridge. It’s been chosen as the summer reading for all incoming NYU undergraduate students because the transition to college can be a step into a larger, more public, and more diverse world of ideas, people, and cultures. Our hope is that reading Educated will prompt students to both reflect on their personal journeys, as well as on the mosaic of experiences that they anticipate during their time at college – from adapting to a new environment, to finding mentors and seeking help, to assuming responsibility for their education.

“The Gods of Gotham” by Lyndsay Faye

Why I recommend this book: Many of our undergraduate students not only had the pleasure of reading the suspenseful historical mystery novel The Gods of Gotham in our Stern Undergraduate College Book Club but were also treated to a discussion of the book by author Lyndsay Faye this spring. It’s the first in a series that follows a New York City bartender-turned-police officer, Timothy Wilde, as he solves a crime. The book is set in 1845, but it’s no stretch to see how many issues raised throughout the book – religious tensions, racial prejudice, corruption, party politics, and human exploitation – are still relevant today. Although the characters in The Gods of Gotham more often finds itself in a nefarious 1845-era underworld of New York City, any transplant, visitor, or native to our city will still relish the vivid picture of it painted by Faye.

– Dean Raghu Sundaram, New York University’s Stern School of Business

“Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World” by Cal Newport

Why I recommend this book: I love technology, but a couple of years back, I realized that many of my technologies were getting in my way, making me less happy, and reducing my productivity. A digital detox helps in the short term, but what I really needed were sustainable strategies for making technology work for me, not the other way around. 

Cal Newport’s book does just that by offering strategies for how technology can make us happier, more productive, and able to live a fulfilling, healthy, and meaningful life. The practices in this book are must-reads in today’s digital world.

“Stress Less, Accomplish More: Meditation for Extraordinary Performance” by Emily Fletcher

Why I recommend this book: Emily Fletcher has taught the power of meditation to employees at some of the biggest companies in the world, and she’s regarded as one of the leading experts in using mediation to sustain high performance. Fletcher’s new book offers techniques anyone can use to explore the role meditation may have in helping unlock professional performance and personal fulfillment.

– Dean Scott DeRue, University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business

“AIQ: How People and Machines are Smarter Together” by Nick Polson and James Scott 

Why I recommend this book: Not only is this book co-authored by one of our star faculty members, James Scott, it is also an enjoyable and thought-provoking read. The authors explain the ways that data and statistics interact to enable advances in technology while also showing some of the historical arc that has led us to this new digital, data-driven age.

“The Big Short” by Michael Lewis

Why I recommend this book: Michael Lewis has a gift for explaining otherwise complex ideas, and this book gives a great view of the issues that led up to the 2008 financial crisis. For new undergraduates who are used to an economy that is expanding, this will give some perspective as to what can go wrong. Plus, we are still working through some aspects of the post-crisis hangover, from regulatory and structural perspectives.

– Dean Jay Hartzell, University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business

“Thirst” by Scott Harrison

Why I recommend this book: This is a powerful story detailing one person’s journey towards finding purpose and doing work that truly matters.  In an inspirational way, it’s shows us the joy and satisfaction that comes from helping to make the world a better place.

“The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias” by Dolly Chugh 

Why I recommend this book: This is a wonderful book that shows us how to think differently, and most important, act differently when it comes to affecting positive change. Chugh provides us with an eye-opening guide to becoming the person we’d truly like to be, and not just be a good person, but a good-ish person, who is always moving forward.

– Dean Kate Walsh, Cornell’s SC Johnson College of Business, School of Hotel Administration

“Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived Joyful Life” by Bill Burnet and Dave Evans 

Why I recommend this book: I think it is important for business majors take co-ownership for designing a well-lived life and career (not just focusing on a job). This book provides a holistic approach by discussing the importance of values, exploratory mindset, prototyping, and team work as factors to consider when designing a life.

“Opening Belle” by Maureen Sherry

Why I recommend this book: This fiction book is about women working in an investment bank and the challenges they have to manage. The characters teach us lessons about empowerment, strategizing, social networks, and living an integrative life.

– Dean Lynn Perry Wooten, Cornell’s SC Johnson College of Business, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management

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