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10 Books Every MBA Candidate Should Read This Summer

As business schools release their summer reading lists, we’ve highlighted 10 must-read books for any MBA applicant

By  Simon Lovick

Thu Jul 18 2019

BusinessBecause
Close your laptop and put your phone on silent—summer is here!

Whether you’re laying on a sun lounger on the beach, or doing the morning commute to work, there’s no better time than summer to get into reading. 

That book that’s been sat on the side of your desk for months? Pick it up and have a read. That title that everyone’s told you to read? Get online and order it. 

For those eyeing up the first MBA application round in the fall, what you have or haven’t read might make the difference. 

So, before you begin that GMAT test prep, or start filling out your MBA application, take a look at our 10 must-read books for the summer, recommended by industry experts and faculty from some of the world’s best business schools. 

Check out the book we chose as the BusinessBecause recommended book for 2019.


10. The Creativity Code: Art and Innovation in the Age of AI by Marcu du Sautoy

Recommended by Hal Gregerson, executive director of the MIT Sloan School of Management Leadership Center

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Hal says—“This great new book really opened my eyes to the creativity required at the top of this discipline (du Sautoy is a mathematics professor at Oxford). In fact, a compelling conjecture is truly a catalytic question – opening up a new path for the field’s energies to rush down. 

Du Sautoy also describes how—especially in the age of AI—his mission as a teacher is to cultivate this questioning skill in the next generation of mathematicians. 

He lays the foundation by first having students retrace the discovery journeys of past geniuses: “Rehearsing how others came to their breakthroughs builds the capacity to achieve one’s own creative feats.”


9. Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy and How to Make Them Work for You by Geoffrey Parker, Marshall Van Alstyne, and Sangeet Choudary

Recommended by Professor Jochen Wirtz, vice dean of graduate studies at the National University of Singapore

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Jochen says—“Platforms come in many shapes and forms—including search, communications, social media, matching, content & review, booking, retail, payment, crowdsourcing, development, sharing/P2P economy, and B2B platforms—and their combinations.

“In my view, platform business models are the future for many industries and are disrupting the more traditional pipeline businesses.  This book provides an excellent discussion of the key areas to focus on if one is interested in understanding and building platform businesses.”


8. Beyond the Content: Mindfulness As A Test Prep Advantage by Logan Thompson

Recommended by test prep expert

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If you ask any test prepper, or read any test prep guide, the emphasis will be on content and strategy—essentially making sure you know exactly what is going to come up, and how to deal with it. 

Where Thompson’s approach differs is through his focus on mindfulness and mentality, the “fleeting...

p scorer in SAT, GMAT, and GRE tests, is a seasoned practitioner of meditation and mindfulness. Combining the two, he argues, is the key accessing your full potential in the admissions test.


7. How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Recommended by Alex Lawrence, assistant dean and MBA admissions director at UCLA Anderson School of Management

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Despite having been written over 80 years ago, Carnegie’s advice remains as practical and useful as ever, offering key advice on honing your soft skills to make your way in business. 

Alex says—“A classic from the past, especially for those interested in entrepreneurship. I love the messages on how to handle demanding customers/clients and eventually win them over. It is a great guide to help you learn about communication skills.”


6. On Bullshit by Harry Frankfurt

Recommended by Andreas Rasche, MBA associate dean at Copenhagen Business School

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This long essay, originally published in 1986, has never felt truer in era dominated by fake news and disbelief in politics and business. 

As Frankfurt writes in the book, “The liar cares about the truth and attempts to hide it; the bullshitter doesn’t care if what they say is true or false, but rather only cares whether the listener is persuaded.”

Andreas says— “Princeton Professor Harry Frankfurt discusses the differences between telling the truth, lying and bullshitting. Given that the latter has proliferated in the world of business, it is a must-read for MBAs.”


5. Reputation 360: Creating Power Through Personal Branding by Lida Citroen

Recommended by Professor Seen-Meng Chew, associate MBA director at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) Business School

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Seen-Meng says—“This book is about how to market the most important product in the world: yourself.  

Through many examples, Citroen explains how to develop your personal brand and create a strong professional reputation that will help you succeed in your career and other situations.  

She also shows us some simple approach and common sense that many of us often overlook when creating our own identities.


4. The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt

Recommended by Pascal Michels, MBA admissions director at IESE Business School 

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Pascal says—“If doing a full-time MBA is a path towards heightened self-awareness, and self-awareness a path towards being a better leader, then Haidt’s easy-to-read yet comprehensive overview of what the world’s great civilizations and greatest thinkers had to say about how our inner lives work, is of great relevance to anybody embarking on an MBA journey.

“Understanding your emotions and how they struggle with your rational self is essential in harnessing them, which in turn makes you better at reading and understanding others’ emotions and managing those. This in turn is one of the fundamental traits required of any great leader.”



The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis


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When Daniel Kahneman first met Amos Tversky at the Hebrew University, nobody could have foreseen what would happen next. 

What followed was a partnership that formed the foundation of what is now known as behavioral economics, which would go on to influence economists, psychologists, and just about every other academic profession.

Lewis, however, tells the story of their friendship, an intimate rivalry based on their completely opposing personalities which combined to approach human thinking in a way that was unprecedented. 

Drawing upon accessible visual metaphors, and a uniquely illustrative way of storytelling, Lewis explains Kahneman and Tversky’s science in a way that is not only digestible, but also deeply amusing and emotional.

It is an essential read for any MBA applicant seeking to understand why humans make the decisions, and mistakes, that we always do.


2. The Sex Factor: How Women Made the West Rich by Victoria Bateman

Recommended by Michael Kitson, senior lecturer in international macroeconomics at Judge Business School, University of Cambridge. 

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Michael says—“Understanding how economies work is fundamental to modern business.  Yet modern economics largely neglects gender. 

In this thought-provoking book, Victoria Bateman addresses this failure and argues that, “women’s freedom is vital for economic prosperity…it boosts wages, skills, saving and entrepreneurial spirit.”


1. The Hard Thing About The Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

Recommended by Katy Montgomery, associate dean at INSEAD

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Silicon Valley entrepreneur Ben Horowitz discloses his essential advice about challenges of building and running a business—including that which you can’t learn at business school. 

Drawing upon everything from rap lyrics to his real life encounters, Horowitz’s book is equal parts hilarious and honest. 

Katy says—“I highly recommend this book to any business student who is interested in start-ups, venture capital, or tech (particularly product management).  Horowitz really understands business and does not sugar coat the hard work involved in making a company successful.  

While reading this book I was constantly thinking about good versus bad management, the right kind of ambition, and being a courageous and not a cowardly leader.”


*Featured image used under this licence

Student Reviews

Copenhagen Business School (CBS)

Student

Verified

29/09/2019

CBS: efficient international network

CBS has always been ranked among the best universities in Europe and this means that it has become a sign of professionalism and success. The academic level is great thanks to the good teachers and the atmosphere is proactive and challenging. Lots of events are planned every week and this helps you to find your own way. CBS is not only a business school, it is a great and efficient international network.

Stella

Verified

24/04/2019

Good academic career

I did my Bachelors at CBS and their academic excellence and career opportunities led me to pursue my Masters in Accounting, Strategy and Control. I was very lucky to go on an exchange in Singapore for one semester it boosted me to get a career in a global firm. I like that it is super modern and has all the facilities for the business student in 2019. Especially, I liked the library and Bitlab where I spent most of my time studying. However, note that it is very demanding and studying here is no joke. Everything is very competitive and you are among the most excellent business students in the country. The interaction with international students helped me to see different perspectives in business and culturally and I was lucky to make friends from any part of the world. CBS is like a brand in Denmark. Every serious business company prioritizes us over any other Danish university and also it is free for European citizens. Overall, I have a very satisfying experience at CBS and I'm looking to continue my academical career even further.

Student

Verified

13/04/2019

CBS is one of the best!

All I have to say regarding my experience at CBS is that it is AMAZING. Having been tutored by world-class academic staff, I can definitely support that I am receiving the best of quality regarding my studies in Digital Marketing. Staff is very friendly and easy to approach. In addition, the facilities we enjoy are top class and meet any demands. Keep in mind that, EU citizens do not pay any fees. Student life might be non-existent here, but the location of the University in The very center of Copenhagen has a huge variety of choices to offer to students regarding their entertainment. Accommodation might be a problem, but early research of the market can be very useful. In addition, the University promotes diversity. In CBS University you can meet people from the whole world which is quite interesting. I definitely suggest CBS for any student who he's interested in pursuing a career in marketing or business.

Stefani

Verified

12/04/2019

The ideal business school

I have been enrolled in this university for 2 semesters. What I took from this experience is that there is nothing better out there for those looking for professional growth while being guided by some of the top-notch professors in Scandinavia. They have a really strong focus in technology and digital transformation and they are up to date to guarantee you land a job in the modern fast-evolving world. They also embrace diversity which means many students come from any part of the world and it takes the entire learning experience to another level. You simply learn from every other student cause everyone has different experiences and background which makes you open your mind and see the world from a different angle. In Denmark, even businesses prioritize people who graduate from CBS as it's commonly perceived as the most prestigious university for business graduates.

José Pedro

Verified

22/09/2019

A Place of Personal Growth

In CBS you can expect an environment of proactive thinking and growth. The university staff is always open to help and to debate. The teaching methods balance theoretical knowledge and practical skills enabling the student with capacity and confidence to enter the job market successfully. The existence of students from all over the world stimulates discussion and promotion of different cultures, ideas and perspectives. I highly recommend this university for students in business-related areas.

Cathy

Verified

5/02/2019

Environment

The environment here is really great. Despite the well organized buildings and libraries, there are also places for students to just stay and relax also even study in the corners of each campus. The professors are mostly really nice and try to interact with students a lot. So, to sum up, the environment is really nice for studying here.

Philip

Verified

15/04/2018

Quality education

Quality education where it emphazises the importance of academic. No finger to put on this aspect of the school. However, sometimes the administration and IT can be lacking a bit, but in general a really good choice for education!

Student

Verified

27/09/2017

Best Time!

Classes are challenging and conducted in a professional manner. CBS offers a wide range of possibilities to develop outside of the classes! Libraries and other facilities on the campus are very well adjusted to the student needs.

Student

Verified

22/09/2017

A heavily theory-based curriculum combined with an ever-stimulating environment

I am currently a Master student at CBS, but I have also completed a Bachelor's Degree in this university. I am quite satisfied with my studies and the teaching level. However, when compared to other business schools, it becomes apparent that most courses at CBS strive to find a good balance between theoretical insight and real-life examples. Compared to my exchange university, the projects that I have found myself writing at CBS have a far less practical application and also leave little room for creativity. If the teaching is heavily theoretical, on the bright side, the university arranges a number of events throughout the year to encourage students to apply their knowledge, in the form of career fairs, case competitions, and other events organized by student associations. In my experience, teachers are very easily approachable and happy to answer your questions. A foreign student like me will find a more international environment at Master level, since the number of international (or at least non-Scandinavian) students enrolled in the Bachelor programs is quite low. However, all communication (both oral and written) from teachers and the university offices is always in English. Administrative offices, student guidance services, the career center, and the international office are definitely worth a mention. All of the requests that I have had throughout the years have always been met with kindness, promptness and efficiency.

Student

Verified

29/09/2019

CBS: efficient international network

CBS has always been ranked among the best universities in Europe and this means that it has become a sign of professionalism and success. The academic level is great thanks to the good teachers and the atmosphere is proactive and challenging. Lots of events are planned every week and this helps you to find your own way. CBS is not only a business school, it is a great and efficient international network.

Stella

Verified

24/04/2019

Good academic career

I did my Bachelors at CBS and their academic excellence and career opportunities led me to pursue my Masters in Accounting, Strategy and Control. I was very lucky to go on an exchange in Singapore for one semester it boosted me to get a career in a global firm. I like that it is super modern and has all the facilities for the business student in 2019. Especially, I liked the library and Bitlab where I spent most of my time studying. However, note that it is very demanding and studying here is no joke. Everything is very competitive and you are among the most excellent business students in the country. The interaction with international students helped me to see different perspectives in business and culturally and I was lucky to make friends from any part of the world. CBS is like a brand in Denmark. Every serious business company prioritizes us over any other Danish university and also it is free for European citizens. Overall, I have a very satisfying experience at CBS and I'm looking to continue my academical career even further.

Student

Verified

13/04/2019

CBS is one of the best!

All I have to say regarding my experience at CBS is that it is AMAZING. Having been tutored by world-class academic staff, I can definitely support that I am receiving the best of quality regarding my studies in Digital Marketing. Staff is very friendly and easy to approach. In addition, the facilities we enjoy are top class and meet any demands. Keep in mind that, EU citizens do not pay any fees. Student life might be non-existent here, but the location of the University in The very center of Copenhagen has a huge variety of choices to offer to students regarding their entertainment. Accommodation might be a problem, but early research of the market can be very useful. In addition, the University promotes diversity. In CBS University you can meet people from the whole world which is quite interesting. I definitely suggest CBS for any student who he's interested in pursuing a career in marketing or business.

Stefani

Verified

12/04/2019

The ideal business school

I have been enrolled in this university for 2 semesters. What I took from this experience is that there is nothing better out there for those looking for professional growth while being guided by some of the top-notch professors in Scandinavia. They have a really strong focus in technology and digital transformation and they are up to date to guarantee you land a job in the modern fast-evolving world. They also embrace diversity which means many students come from any part of the world and it takes the entire learning experience to another level. You simply learn from every other student cause everyone has different experiences and background which makes you open your mind and see the world from a different angle. In Denmark, even businesses prioritize people who graduate from CBS as it's commonly perceived as the most prestigious university for business graduates.

José Pedro

Verified

22/09/2019

A Place of Personal Growth

In CBS you can expect an environment of proactive thinking and growth. The university staff is always open to help and to debate. The teaching methods balance theoretical knowledge and practical skills enabling the student with capacity and confidence to enter the job market successfully. The existence of students from all over the world stimulates discussion and promotion of different cultures, ideas and perspectives. I highly recommend this university for students in business-related areas.

Cathy

Verified

5/02/2019

Environment

The environment here is really great. Despite the well organized buildings and libraries, there are also places for students to just stay and relax also even study in the corners of each campus. The professors are mostly really nice and try to interact with students a lot. So, to sum up, the environment is really nice for studying here.

Philip

Verified

15/04/2018

Quality education

Quality education where it emphazises the importance of academic. No finger to put on this aspect of the school. However, sometimes the administration and IT can be lacking a bit, but in general a really good choice for education!

Student

Verified

27/09/2017

Best Time!

Classes are challenging and conducted in a professional manner. CBS offers a wide range of possibilities to develop outside of the classes! Libraries and other facilities on the campus are very well adjusted to the student needs.

Student

Verified

22/09/2017

A heavily theory-based curriculum combined with an ever-stimulating environment

I am currently a Master student at CBS, but I have also completed a Bachelor's Degree in this university. I am quite satisfied with my studies and the teaching level. However, when compared to other business schools, it becomes apparent that most courses at CBS strive to find a good balance between theoretical insight and real-life examples. Compared to my exchange university, the projects that I have found myself writing at CBS have a far less practical application and also leave little room for creativity. If the teaching is heavily theoretical, on the bright side, the university arranges a number of events throughout the year to encourage students to apply their knowledge, in the form of career fairs, case competitions, and other events organized by student associations. In my experience, teachers are very easily approachable and happy to answer your questions. A foreign student like me will find a more international environment at Master level, since the number of international (or at least non-Scandinavian) students enrolled in the Bachelor programs is quite low. However, all communication (both oral and written) from teachers and the university offices is always in English. Administrative offices, student guidance services, the career center, and the international office are definitely worth a mention. All of the requests that I have had throughout the years have always been met with kindness, promptness and efficiency.

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