Planning on doing some summer reading? Throw one of these books into your beach tote at the suggestion of the experts at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. These reads are meant to help you get ahead in your career, better manage teams, sharpen your leadership skills or just learn something new.
• “The Art of Choosing,” by Sheena Iyengar (2010)
This book looks at how we make choices and how that shapes our lives. One of her findings is that too much choice is demotivating. Sometimes we prefer limited choice.
– reviewed by Amna Kirmani, director of doctoral programs and professor of marketing
• “The Clash of the Cultures,” by John C. Bogle (2012)
A financial adviser who has often spoken to my classes said there are only two reasons to take risks in investing: because you want to or because you have to. “Have to” refers to choosing high-return, high-reward investments because that is the only way to potentially achieve future savings goals. Jack Bogle, retired chief executive of the Vanguard Group, discusses the “want to” reason for taking risks. His book lambastes publicly traded financial firms that have performed poorly because of risk-taking. Bogle believes many of these companies had speculative rather than investment mind-sets, emphasized short-term versus long-term profitability, and traded frequently without regard to the costs versus benefits of the trades. He contends such speculation created value for management at the expense of shareholders and clients. His message in this book, which reinforces his message in his earlier books, is that investing in index versus actively managed funds is better for investors because of the lower costs of index funds.
– Susan White, teaching fellow in finance
• “The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance – What Women Should Know,” by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman (2014)
Kay and Shipman use neuroscience to examine and discuss research on the roots of confidence in our brains. In a practical, reader-friendly style, they provide examples of women leaders from all types of industries (e.g., politics, sports, military, arts) to show how confidence affects leadership and success. They offer some great tips to women about building confidence, such as taking more action and more risks, and avoiding all the people-pleasing and perfectionistic behaviors. As an executive coach, I would highly recommend this book to all of my women leaders, and encourage them to share it with women colleagues, friends and, yes, even their daughters!
– Joyce E.A. Russell, Smith School vice dean
• “Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain,” by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (2014)
This book is on my summer reading list because it demonstrates how to approach problem solving in a completely different way. It can be eye-opening to see how attitude and perception affect decision-making.
– Alex Triantis, Smith School dean
• “Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness,” by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein (2008)
“Nudge” is co-authored by a powerful duo: the creator of the field of behavioral economics and a prolific legal writer who has been an adviser to President Obama. Thaler and Sunstein draw from the results of behavioral experiments to show how to nudge individuals to make better decisions. These nudges are produced by what the authors call “choice architecture,” and can be used to help people make better investments, save more for retirement and follow a more healthful diet, among others. This is a timely and smart book for anyone interested in behavioral science, business and public policy.
– Rebecca Ratner, professor of marketing and assistant dean of academic affairs for undergraduate programs
• “Uncontrolled: The Surprising Payoff of Trial-and-Error for Business, Politics and Society,” by Jim Manzi (2012)
Manzi explains how we can use quantitative evidence for better business decision-making. No competent leader can ignore this trend.
– Brent Goldfarb, associate professor of management and entrepreneurship
• “The Necessity of Strangers: The Intriguing Truth About Insight, Innovation and Success,” by Alan Gregerman (2013)
This is a thought-provoking book that will challenge the way you think about innovation and collaboration. Gregerman provides compelling examples, engaging stories and practical guidance regarding how strangers can help us be more creative and achieve greater collaboration.
– Kathryn Bartol, professor of management and organization
• “Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All,” by David Kelley and Tom Kelley (2013)
Ideo founder David Kelley and his brother and partner in Ideo, Tom Kelley, have written a compelling book, that shows that creativity is not magic – it is a skill that can be developed. In an inspiring narrative, the authors demonstrate that everyone has the potential to be creative and provide incredibly useful insights that will help us break out of our rut.
– Mark Wellman,teaching fellow in management and organization
• “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” by Thomas Piketty (2014)
This best-seller addresses income and wealth inequality, one of the most important economic issues of our time. Piketty draws on data across countries and over time in making the case that income inequality is a natural outcome in market economies. The book has engendered a great deal of attention and controversy, unusual for a serious economic treatise, but illustrating the importance of inequality.
– Curt Grimm, professor of economics and strategy
• “#GirlBoss,” by Sophia Amoruso (2014)
Amoruso, founder of Nasty Gal, tells the story of how she grew her vintage clothing business on eBay to a $100 million fashion e-retailer with 350 employees that ships to 60 countries. Amoruso is refreshingly candid about her ups and downs along the way and remarkably thrifty for a fashionista (one chapter is titled “Money Looks Better in the Bank Than on Your Feet”).
– Rebecca Winner, executive director of marketing communications