Attending Stanford's Graduate School of Business to learn from the school's celebrated professors will cost you more than $50,000 a year. Don't have that kind of cash? Fear not--you can still learn at least a little from these top minds in the world of business. 

The school's Insights newsletter helpfully hit up GSB professors for their top suggestions of what to read this summer. All it takes to be a little smarter come September is filling up your beach bag or e-reader with some of their picks. 

1. The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis

OK, so this one doesn't exactly sound like light beach reading, but the topic couldn't be more timely or consequential. "In this ambitious and important book, Michael Lewis--a keen observer and master storyteller--explains how willful ignorance and abuse of power within the current U.S. government are exposing us to enormous risks," explains finance and economics professor Anat Admati. 

2. Animal Farm by George Orwell 

Some classics never go out of style, according to finance professor Juliane Begenau: "I recently went to my favorite bookstore in San Francisco and noticed the beautiful 50th anniversary edition, with drawings by Ralph Steadman. I'm rereading it because it's one of the most poignant tales about how power corrupts and the pitfalls of egalitarian Utopias. 'All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.'" 

"Kind of like what would happen if you crossed a hedge fund with an episode of 'Deadliest Catch,'" is Chip Heath's memorable description of this pick. "A group of geeks combine brainpower and technology to locate a lost 100-year-old treasure ship, sunk on the way east from the goldfields of California, and harvest a billion dollars' worth of gold," he continues. I'm sold.  

4. The Secret of Our Success by Joseph Henrich 

"This book was recommended to me by a friend in social psychology. It draws from a wide variety of disciplines (evolutionary psychology, biology, history, neuroscience) and uses amazing examples (lost European explorers, chimpanzees--how cool is that?!) to discuss how our collective brains, not individuals, shaped our biology and the society," says marketing professor Szu-chi Huang.  

5. Crashed by Adam Tooze​

"I am looking forward to reading his account on the more recent global financial crisis. I will probably disagree with many things he says, but I am also sure that I will learn a lot and that his unique perspective will force me to think more clearly about what happened during the crisis," says professor of finance Peter A.E. Koudijs. 

Roderick M. Kramer's pick invites you use your summer to think deeply about life's most important questions: "This is a book for our times ... offering a reflective yet also very pragmatic take on the challenges in finding meaning in a world where chaos, chance, and grim turns seem all too prevalent."

7. Friend & Foe by Adam Galinsky and Maurice Schweitzer

Read Ashley Martin's pick and you'll return to work after your vacation better armed to navigate workplace relationships. "In today's society, we are filled with opportunities to collaborate, but often this is overshadowed by people's tendency to compete. Friend & Foe provides insight into why this happens, what we can do to navigate it, and offers practical advice to manage the tension between the two," she says. 

8. Bad Blood by John Carreyrou​

"It is a riveting journalistic account of the rise and fall of Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes," says accounting professor Maureen McNichols. I bought it for a plane ride recently and finished it in a day. Riveting indeed. 

9. Blood in the Water by Heather Ann Thompson 

"I'm currently in the middle of this amazing, but also incredibly sad, Pulitzer Prize-winning account of the 1971 Attica prison uprising and its aftermath," reports Paul Oyer. "As we reevaluate the current status of race relations, criminal justice, and economic inequality, this provides a fascinating perspective on those challenges from a previous era."

"Not sure if you want a fun or educational read by the pool. Why not both? A survival guide for those stranded in the past because of a faulty time machine, this book leads you through all of the major innovations created by humans and tells how to create them yourself from first principles," says marketing professor S. Christian Wheeler. 

Published on: Jul 24, 2019
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