Smith Brain Trust / May 27, 2020

Summer Reading List 2020

Must-Read Recommendations from Maryland Smith's Business Experts

Summer Reading List 2020

SMITH BRAIN TRUST – The coronavirus pandemic may have thrown many of your summer plans into disarray, but there's one much-loved activity you can still pursue: Losing yourself in a stack of engrossing books.

Maryland Smith's faculty are there for you, with suggestions to get you through the summer break.

The 17th annual Summer Reading List for Business Leaders from the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business covers sports, history, startup scandals and successes, economics and a bit of fiction, too.

Happy reading!

Good Economics for Hard Times, Better Answers to Our Biggest Problems

By Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo

The authors, winners of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics, address some of the most anxiety-provoking issues of our society, such as immigration and inequality, globalization and technological disruption. They explain the results of numerous field-based research studies, and suggest interventions to make for a better world. The book ends with a wonderful quote: "Economics is too important to be left to economists."

Progyan Basu, clinical professor of accounting and information assurance
(Also recommended by Anil K. Gupta, Michael D. Dingman Chair in Strategy and Entrepreneurship)

The Path To Power

By Robert A. Caro

So, you want to be the leader of the free world. You don't come from money. Instead your hardscrabble roots are planted in the Hill Country of South Central Texas. You don't have a network. So, you just abandon your political dream, right? Not if you're LBJ. You hustle, plot and scheme your way into the corridors of power.

Henry C. Boyd III, clinical professor of marketing

Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion

By Robert B. Cialdini

A wonderful book about techniques that are used to persuade us to buy or to say 'yes.' An easy read, the book discusses numerous psychological studies on persuasion and provides principles on how to use persuasion techniques and defend against them.

Eugene H. Cantor, clinical associate professor of accounting and information assurance

How To Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big

By Scott Adams (the Dilbert guy)

This, quite simply, is a life-changing book. Scott Adams explains the concept of the 'talent stack' that plays an important role in success, systems versus goals, and staying fit.

Eugene H. Cantor, clinical associate professor of accounting and information assurance

When Pops Led the Family: The 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates

Edited by Bill Nowlin and Gregory H. Wolf

If you want an escape from current affairs, baseball can be a nice refuge. The Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) is all things baseball and, among other things, published a book documenting practically every aspect of the World Series-winning 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates. With exceptionally in-depth articles on every player, coach, playoff game and more, it is easy to relax and enjoy a most glorious time in baseball history (at least if you are a Pirates fan!). If Pittsburgh is not your team, do not fret – SABR has commissioned numerous other books as well, including the 1986 New York Mets, 1975 Boston Red Sox, 1951 New York Giants, 1935 Detroit Tigers, 1929 Chicago Cubs, and 1919 Chicago White Sox, to name just a few.

Philip T. Evers, associate professor of logistics management

The Accidental President: Harry S. Truman and the Four Months That Changed the World

By A. J. Baime

Having grown up not far from the Truman library, I am admittedly biased. Nonetheless, with the whirlwind 2020 we've had, one cannot help but admire what I would call humble but strong leadership and informed decision-making under tremendous uncertainty during perhaps the most eventful four months in the history of mankind. This book whetted my appetite for David McCullough's much longer (and older) Pulitzer prize-winning biography, which is on my own summer reading list, as one of those books that I've always been meaning to read.

Michael Fu, Smith Chair of Management Science

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

By John Carreyrou

Amazing true story of how so many smart people were duped by a charismatic persona (Elizabeth Holmes, a Steve Jobs wannabe) leading a Silicon Valley startup called Theranos, promising fairy tale dreams from just a pinprick of blood. Given the current rush to bring a vaccine to market, this could also serve as a cautionary tale. It also reminds us of the important role that the media has to play, as this was uncovered by an investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal (the author, John Carreyrou).

Michael Fu, Smith Chair of Management Science

The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company

By Robert Iger

'The Ride of a Lifetime,' by former Disney CEO Bob Iger, is an inspiring book.

Bruce L. Golden, the France-Merrick Chair in Management Science 
(Also recommended by Anil K. Gupta, Michael D. Dingman Chair in Strategy and Entrepreneurship)

Narrative Economics: How Stories Go Viral and Drive Major Economic Events

By Robert J. Shiller

Shiller is a Nobel Prize-winning economist who describes how stories help drive economic events and why financial panics can spread like 'epidemic viruses.' Popular stories can drive the economy by influencing our decisions about how and where to invest, how much to spend and save, etc. These stories are increasingly being transmitted by social media.

David Kass, clinical professor of finance, senior fellow of the Center for Financial Policy

The Giver of Stars

By Jojo Moyes

While a work of fiction, the book describes the experience of five women who were known as the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky. These women rode on horses as traveling librarians into the hills surrounding a small town in Kentucky to deliver books to people who could not travel to town. Many of the recipients could not read, but looked at the pictures. The packhorse librarians were the 'bookmobiles' of the Depression era; that much of the story is true. Based on a true story rooted in America's past, 'The Giver of Stars' is unparalleled in its scope and epic in its storytelling.

Elinda F. Kiss, associate clinical professor of finance

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

By Amy Edmondson

Psychological safety is seeing a new surge of interest these days, spurred partially by Google's research on what makes great teams at Google. If you are interested in creating a culture that supports taking risks, speaking up, and even making mistakes, this is the definitive book. It explains the abstract concept of psychological safety from Edmondson's rigorous peer-reviewed research, and adds to that a step-by-step framework for bringing psychological safety to life in your group, department, or organization. It's a great next step for fearless leaders who want to create fearless organizations.

Neta Moye, clinical professor of management and senior fellow of Executive Development Programs

The Defining Decade, Why Your Twenties Matter - and How to Make the Most of the Now

By Meg Jay

A great read for recent graduates and parents of recent graduates. Jay, a clinical psychologist writes, 'Eighty percent of life's defining moments take place by age 35.' Jay encourages 'twentysomethings' to take hold of their own success in these pivotal years. She demonstrates how the decisions we make (or don't make) in our twenties, impact the rest of our lives. I bought this book for all the 'twentysomethings' in my life, including two daughters and several nieces and nephews.

Christine M. Schaaf, marketing lecturer


By Matthew Desmond

A good read but a bit older. It is a great book about capitalism gone astray, even more relevant in the current situation. Please also see: this video.

Michel Wedel, Distinguished University Professor and PepsiCo Chair in Consumer Science

Mission in a Bottle

By Seth Goldman and Barry Nalebuff

This is a 280-page inspirational comic book – sorry, graphic novel – about entrepreneurship. The pair, student and professor at Yale University, founded Honest Tea, starting out by making a few thermos bottles or organic tea. Their book details their amazing success story. The firm had $250,000 in sales in its first year in 1998, $500 million in sales when it was bought by Coca-Cola in 2011 and around $1 billion in sales in 2019. TeaEO Seth Goldman has moved on to other business ventures and is a frequent inspirational University of Maryland speaker. The book is filled with advice and insights for entrepreneurs, including their trial-and-error first years. It's the book they said they would have liked to have had before starting their own ventures.

Susan White, clinical professor of finance



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