Books and Culture

7 Harvard business professors share the top books on their summer reading list

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Twenty20 | Jorge Guillen

With many of us still stuck at home for the foreseeable future, it's the perfect time to refresh your summer reading list.

In need of some page-turning recommendations? Good news: In a recent interview with The Harvard Gazette, Harvard Business School professors share the books they're looking forward to this summer.

From fiction to non-fiction, the list is packed with intriguing must-reads:

1. 'The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America'

By Khalil Gibran Muhammad

Rosabeth M. Kanter, a professor of business administration, plans to reread Khalil Gibran Muhammad's "The Condemnation of Blackness," which explores how Black crime statistics have shaped debates about everything from public education to policing to presidential elections — fueling racism and justifying inequality.

Kanter even assigned the book to one of her classes and invited Muhammad, a professor of history, race and public policy, to speak to her students. I thought "[we] might see new and different things this time," she said.

Other notable picks:

2. 'The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power'

By Shoshanna Zuboff

Business management professor Joseph Fuller just started reading "The Age of Surveillance Capitalism," which he describes as a "sweeping description of the rise and impact of business models that are premised on harvesting and monetizing personal information."

Shoshanna Zuboff's book is of profound importance to contemporary readers and economic and political historians — and it will continue to be for generations to come. "If you own a copy, keep it," said Fuller. "A scholarly grandchild will thank you."

Another notable pick:

3. 'Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber'

By Mike Isaac

Professor of business administration Andy Wu plans to "catch up on several books on important narratives in the tech world." One of them is "Super Pumped" — a gripping account of Uber.

Based on interviews with current and former employees at the ride-hailing company, as well as previously unpublished documents, reporter Mike Isaac tells a story of ambition and deception, extreme wealth, corruption and bad leadership.

Other notable picks:

4. 'The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation and Growth'

By Amy Edmondson

Euvin Naidoo, who teaches financial reporting, is finishing up Amy Edmondson's "The Fearless Organization." 

In this practical guide, Edmondson uses her years of research on psychological safety in teamwork and innovation to show how leaders can create a culture that enables, supports and empowers positive team and community impact, especially in times of rapid change.

Another notable pick:

5. 'Inside Out and Back Again'

By Thanhha Lai

For fiction lovers, associate professor of business administration Laura Huang recommends "Inside Out and Back Again." 

A winner of the National Book Award, Thanhha Lai's book is inspired by her experience as a refugee — fleeing Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon and immigrating to Alabama.

"I like to switch up what I'm reading — so I often alternate between fiction and non-fiction," said Huang. "It makes me think about how we are often caught between worlds and identities, and the ways we must choose to reconcile our past with our present."

Other notable picks:

6. 'The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.'

By Peniel E. Joseph

Business professor and former president of HBO Home Entertainment Henry McGee is eager to finish up "The Sword and the Shield." 

A frequent national commentator on issues of race, Peniel E. Joseph's dual biography upends longstanding preconceptions to transform our understanding of two iconic African American leaders.

"It is particularly timely with our country's new focus on addressing racism and its catastrophic effects," said McGee.

7. 'The Obstacle is the Way: The Ancient Art of Turning Adversity to Advantage'

By Ryan Holiday

Jeffrey Bussgang, a senior lecturer in Harvard's Entrepreneurial Management department, is reading "The Obstacle Is the Way,"  a book that draws inspiration from stoicism — or the Greek philosophy of enduring pain or adversity with perseverance and resilience.

Best-selling author Ryan Holiday does a terrific job demonstrating how some of the most successful people in history have applied stoicism to overcome difficult or even impossible situations.

Other notable picks:

Tom Popomaronis is a leadership researcher and vice president of innovation at Massive Alliance. His work has been featured in Forbes, Fast Company, Inc., and The Washington Post. In 2014, Tom was named one of the "40 Under 40" by the Baltimore Business Journal. Follow him on LinkedIn.

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