Book Reviews, Economics

10 Business Books to Read This Summer

Stanford Business School has a list of 10 business book that you can read this summer along with the author’s interviews.

10 Business Books to Read This Summer

Business Books #1: Moneyball

“When the odds are stacked against you, you need to change the way the game is played.”

— Craig Hanson (MS ‘07), Founding Partner at Next World Capital

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis

Moneyball is a quest for the secret of success in baseball. Following the low-budget Oakland Athletics, their larger-than-life general manger, Billy Beane, and the strange brotherhood of amateur baseball enthusiasts, Michael Lewis has written not only “the single most influential baseball book ever” (Rob Neyer, Slate) but also what “may be the best book ever written on business” (Weekly Standard).

“I wrote this book because I fell in love with a story. The story concerned a small group of undervalued professional baseball players and executives, many of whom had been rejected as unfit for the big leagues, who had turned themselves into one of the most successful franchises in Major League Baseball. But the idea for the book came well before I had good reason to write it—before I had a story to fall in love with. It began, really, with an innocent question: how did one of the poorest teams in baseball, the Oakland Athletics, win so many games?”

Business Books #2: The Innovator’s Dilemma

“It’s an inspiring book for entrepreneurs.”

— Ryan Caldbeck (MBA ‘05), Cofounder of CircleUp

The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business by Clayton M. Christensen

“Absolutely brilliant. Clayton Christensen provides an insightful analysis of changing technology and its importance to a company’s future success.”
—Michael R. Bloomberg

“This book ought to chill any executive who feels bulletproof —and inspire entrepreneurs aiming their guns.”


The Innovator’s Dilemma is the revolutionary business book that has forever changed corporate America. Based on a truly radical idea—that great companies can fail precisely because they do everything right—this Wall Street Journal, Business Week and New York Times Business bestseller is one of the most provocative and important business books ever written. Entrepreneurs, managers, and CEOs ignore its wisdom and its warnings at their great peril.

Business Books #3: They Call Me Coach

— Evan Reas (MBA ‘09), Cofounder of Circle

They Call Me Coach by John Wooden

The legendary coach talks about his life, his players, and his winning philosophies in this bestselling autobiography

John Wooden’s dedication and inspiration made him America’s “winningest” coach. His beliefs in hard work and preparedness brought the UCLA Bruins an unparalleled 10 NCAA basketball championships. Now in this bestselling autobiography–with a Foreword by Hall-of-Famer Bill Walton–the college basketball legend reflects on his record-breaking career, his life behind the scenes, and how his top players went on to shape and change the NBA.

From the everyday basics to important life lessons (“It’s not how tall you are, but how tall you play”), Wooden shares his worldly wisdom on and off the court to offer a personal history of an unforgettable time in college basketball, answering the most-asked questions about his life, his career, and the players who made his teams unbeatable.

Business Books #4: Creative Confidence

“You don’t have to be an artist to be creative. It can be developed and learned.”

— Caroline Hu Flexer (MBA ‘01), CEO & Cofounder of Duck Duck Moose

Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All by Tom Kelley, David Kelley

IDEO founder and Stanford creator David Kelley and his brother Tom Kelley, IDEO partner and the author of the bestselling The Art of Innovation, have written a powerful and compelling book on unleashing the creativity that lies within each and every one of us.

Too often, companies and individuals assume that creativity and innovation are the domain of the “creative types.”  But two of the leading experts in innovation, design, and creativity on the planet show us that each and every  one of us is creative.  In an incredibly entertaining and inspiring narrative that draws on countless stories from their work at IDEO, the Stanford, and with many of the world’s top companies, David and Tom Kelley identify the principles and strategies that will allow us to tap into our creative potential in our work lives, and in our personal lives, and allow us to innovate in terms of how we approach and solve problems.  It is a book that will help each of us be more productive and successful in our lives and in our careers.

Business Books #5: The Black Swan

— Brian Spaly (MBA ‘07), Founder of Trunk Club

The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb

A black swan is an event, positive or negative, that is deemed improbable yet causes massive consequences. In this groundbreaking and prophetic book, Taleb shows in a playful way that Black Swan events explain almost everything about our world, and yet we—especially the experts—are blind to them. In this second edition, Taleb has added a new essay, On Robustness and Fragility, which offers tools to navigate and exploit a Black Swan world.

Business Books #6: The Second World War

“Volume 1 is important for anyone to read. In the 1930s people ignored what was going on, and things spun out of control.”

— John Crean (MBA ‘92), CEO of Sonoma Creamery

The Second World War by Winston Churchill

The definitive, Nobel Prize–winning history of World War II, universally acknowledged as a magnificent historical reconstruction and an enduring work of literature

From Britain’s darkest and finest hour to the great alliance and ultimate victory, the Second World War remains the most pivotal event of the twentieth century. Winston Churchill was not only the war’s greatest leader, he was the free world’s singularly eloquent voice of defiance in the face of Nazi tyranny, and it’s that voice that animates this six-volume history. Remarkable both for its sweep and for its sense of personal involvement, it begins with The Gathering Storm; moves on to Their Finest Hour, The Grand Alliance, The Hinge of Fate, and Closing the Ring; and concludes with Triumph and Tragedy.

Business Books #7: The Road to Serfdom

“It should be a must-read. I spent almost four years in post-socialist Eastern Europe. Read that book if you want to understand what happens when central planning takes over and eliminates the individual impulse to get things done.”

— John Crean (MBA ‘92), CEO of Sonoma Creamery

The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek

A classic work in political philosophy, intellectual and cultural history, and economics, The Road to Serfdom has inspired and infuriated politicians, scholars, and general readers for half a century. Originally published in England in the spring of 1944–when Eleanor Roosevelt supported the efforts of Stalin, and Albert Einstein subscribed lock, stock, and barrel to the socialist program–The Road to Serfdom was seen as heretical for its passionate warning against the dangers of state control over the means of production. For F. A. Hayek, the collectivist idea of empowering government with increasing economic control would inevitably lead not to a utopia but to the horrors of nazi Germany and fascist Italy.

First published by the University of Chicago Press on September 18, 1944, The Road to Serfdom garnered immediate attention from the public, politicians, and scholars alike. The first printing of 2,000 copies was exhausted instantly, and within six months more than 30,000 were sold. In April of 1945, Reader’s Digest published a condensed version of the book, and soon thereafter the Book-of-the-Month Club distributed this condensation to more than 600,000 readers. A perennial best-seller, the book has sold over a quarter of a million copies in the United States, not including the British edition or the nearly twenty translations into such languages as German, French, Dutch, Swedish, and Japanese, and not to mention the many underground editions produced in Eastern Europe before the fall of the iron curtain.

Business Books #8: Good to Great

“The sequel to Built to Last.”

— Vikram Sharma (MS ‘02), Founder and CEO of QuintessenceLabs

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t by Jim Collins


The Challenge:

Built to Last, the defining management study of the nineties, showed how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the verybeginning.

But what about the company that is not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness?

The Study:

For years, this question preyed on the mind of Jim Collins. Are there companies that defy gravity and convert long-term mediocrity or worse into long-term superiority? And if so, what are the universal distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great?

Business Books #9: Influence

“It’s a survey of psychological tests and conclusions about how people make decisions, and how you can use that to influence thinking.”

— Sam Yagan (MBA ‘05), CEO of

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

Influence, the classic book on persuasion, explains the psychology of why people say “yes”—and how to apply these understandings. Dr. Robert Cialdini is the seminal expert in the rapidly expanding field of influence and persuasion. His thirty-five years of rigorous, evidence-based research along with a three-year program of study on what moves people to change behavior has resulted in this highly acclaimed book.

You’ll learn the six universal principles, how to use them to become a skilled persuader—and how to defend yourself against them. Perfect for people in all walks of life, the principles of Influence will move you toward profound personal change and act as a driving force for your success.

Business Books #10: Lean In

“It was brave of her to have written that book. She doesn’t need to prove anything about how strong she is. I related to many of the mistakes, lessons and anecdotes she wrote about. I have always been passionate about supporting and promoting women. ”

— Shan-Lyn Ma (MBA ‘06), CEO and a Cofounder of Zola

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

Thirty years after women became 50 percent of the college graduates in the United States, men still hold the vast majority of leadership positions in government and industry. This means that women’s voices are still not heard equally in the decisions that most affect our lives. In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg examines why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, explains the root causes, and offers compelling, commonsense solutions that can empower women to achieve their full potential.

Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook and is ranked on Fortune’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business and as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. In 2010, she gave an electrifying TEDTalk in which she described how women unintentionally hold themselves back in their careers. Her talk, which became a phenomenon and has been viewed more than two million times, encouraged women to “sit at the table,” seek challenges, take risks, and pursue their goals with gusto.

via Stanford