Smith Brain Trust / May 25, 2022

Summer Reading List 2022

Summer Reading List 2022

SMITH BRAIN TRUST – Looking for a good book to throw in your carry-on or tote to the pool this summer? Maryland Smith has you covered.

Check out the 19th annual Summer Reading List for Business Leaders, with recommendations from faculty members at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. This year’s list includes new and older books on the Fed, problem-solving, entrepreneurism, memory, vaccines, and human nature, plus fiction picks about saving the planet, war and international spies.


Remember: The Science of Memory and the Art of Forgetting

By Lisa Genova

“Lisa Genova is a New York Times bestselling author and neuroscientist. This book is engaging and storytelling, yet quite a serious subject  – our memory, covering ‘what it is, how it works and what happens when it is stolen from us.’”

Lemma W. Senbet, the William E. Mayer Chair Professor of Finance.

Trillion Dollar Triage

Trillion Dollar Triage: How Jay Powell and the Fed Battled a President and a Pandemic – and Prevented Economic Disaster

By Nick Timiraos

“This book describes the frenetic pace followed by Chairman Jay Powell and the Fed over a crucial five-week period between Feb. 19 and March 26, 2020 when the S&P 500 dropped by 35% and the potential devastating impact of the first pandemic in 100 years was fully appreciated and addressed. Vice Chair of the Fed, Richard Clarida said early on, ‘If we become Italy and we shut down the entire economy, then this will be a bigger hit than the Great Depression.’ This book documents how Powell innovated and substantially extended the playbook established by former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke with respect to the Great Recession and Financial Crisis of 2008. The Federal Reserve not only purchased Treasury and mortgage bonds to lower interest rates, but also corporate bonds, including junk bonds and municipal securities.”

David Kass, clinical professor of finance.

Seven Essentials for Business Success

Seven Essentials for Business Success: Lessons from Legendary Professors

By George Siedel

“I’m quoting the cover, as it sums up nicely why I liked it: ‘Successful leaders are great teachers, and successful teachers serve as models of leadership. This book enables both leaders and teachers to understand and use the best practices developed by award-winning professors, each of whom teaches one of the seven areas that are essential for business success.’”

T. Leigh Anenson, professor of business law.

Cracked It!: How to Solve Big Problems and Sell Solutions Like Top Strategy Consultants

Cracked It!: How to Solve Big Problems and Sell Solutions Like Top Strategy Consultants

By Bernard Garrette, Corey Phelps, Olivier Sibony

“I've been using this book for a couple of years in my consulting class, and students can't stop talking about how much it has helped their problem-solving ability. I recommend it for anyone looking to sharpen their ability to structure problems so that they can solve them more easily and sell the solutions to decision-makers.”

Nicole M. Coomber, assistant dean of the Full-Time MBA program, and associate clinical professor of management and organization.

Suite Française

Suite Française

By Irène Némirovsky

“Ukrainian writer and French resident Némirovsky wrote this ‘suite’ of two novelas while fleeing the Nazis as they invaded France. It depicts Parisians’ responses – both noble and otherwise – to the incredulity of war. Némirovsky was captured and murdered by the Nazis; a draft of her book escaped with her daughters and was published 40 years later. Not a new book, but timely.”

Judy Frels, senior fellow in executive development programs and clinical professor of marketing.

Build: An Unorthodox Guide to Making Things Worth Making

Build: An Unorthodox Guide to Making Things Worth Making

By Tony Fadell

“Tony Fadell – the ‘father’ of the iPod, iPhone and Nest, three of Time's most influential gadgets of all time – provides great advice on how to spin an entrepreneurial career by weaving in and out of paid employment. The book resonates with many insights from my own research, particularly on how to combine profit and purpose to build not only new products, but also craft new ventures that empower innovative employees.”

Rajshree Agarwal, the Rudolph Lamone Chair of Strategy and Entrepreneurship and director of the Ed Snider Center for Enterprise and Markets.

Project Hail Mary

Project Hail Mary

By Andy Weir

“The book tells the tale of an impossible collaboration to save the planet and more. While fictional but scientifically sound, it provided me with a message of hope of what can be achieved when nobody can ask ‘who gets the credit.’ And as for valuable lessons regarding the topics that I teach, this shows again that improvisation is a key skill for a world that gets more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.”

Oliver Schlake, clinical professor of management and organization.

You Are Here

By Thich Nhat Hanh

"It's a book about mindfulness and particularly given Thich Nhat Hanh's passing this year, it could be of interest to anyone who is interested in how to apply mindfulness techniques to personal or professional life."

-Rebecca Ratner, Dean's Professor of Marketing

Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters

Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters

By Steven Pinker

“Steven Pinker, a professor of psychology at Harvard University, challenges our notions of rationality, and provides numerous examples of how human beings behave in an irrational manner – including classic cases of confounding correlation and causation. His book inspires a collective rationality for the society and argues how collective rational behavior can lead to a more just and equitable society.”

Progyan Basu, clinical professor of accounting and information assurance.

Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer

Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer

By Steven Johnson

“In the midst (or nearing the end?) of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is a good (and easy) read to keep things in perspective and to be thankful again for the miracle of vaccines.”

Michael Fu, Smith Chair of management science.

Clara's War

Clara's War

By Clara Kramer

“Based on a diary kept by a teenage girl in Nazi-occupied Poland during WW II, this remarkable read cannot be put down. (I finished it in one weekend.) The story portrays a righteous Christian family attempting to save 18 jewish people in a dirt bunker underneath their house. The book will not only make you feel claustrophobic, but all your senses will experience what it was like to be without running water, furniture, sunshine, fresh air. Although the book explains ‘how’ they did it, I still cannot understand how they did it.”

Samuel Handwerger, CPA and accounting lecturer.

Backable: The Surprising Truth Behind What Makes People Take a Chance on You

Backable: The Surprising Truth Behind What Makes People Take a Chance on You
By Suneel Gupta

“‘Backable’ reveals how the key to success is not charisma, connections, or even your resume, but rather your ability to persuade others to take a chance on you. Suneel Gupta shares stories of personal rejection as well as those from hundreds of others – famous and not so famous. His captivating storytelling and seven action steps make this a worthwhile read. My copy has dozens of sticky notes posted throughout.”

Christine M. Schaaf, business communication lecturer.

King of the Cats: The Life and Times of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.

King of the Cats: The Life and Times of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.

By Will Haygood

“He was bold; he was brash; he was the king of the cats. Building a powerbase from his father's legendary house of worship – The Abyssinian Baptist Church of Harlem – Adam Clayton Powell Jr. became a tour de force for Black America. He was a tireless champion of the Powell Amendment, which he would readily affix to proposed legislation in Congress so that African Americans could gain economic clout and elevate their status in the United States. His political career spanned four decades (1945-1971) during which the zenith of his political power was achieved when he became the chairman of the Education and Labor Committee. Thanks to his indelible presence and advocacy, key portions of civil rights legislation were enacted under the administrations of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson. For those seeking to understand the full measure of this political maverick, I recommend ‘King of the Cats: The Life and Times of Adam Clayton Powell Jr.,’ by Wil Haygood.”

Henry C. Boyd III, clinical professor of marketing, consultant, attorney at law.

Trojan Horse

Trojan Horse

By S. Lee Manning

“This summer I am recommending an ‘escape’ novel, a thriller that I could not put down. It contains plenty of suspense and fast-paced action. The author, S. Lee Manning, really held my interest and attention with her first novel, ‘Trojan Horse.’ Kolya Petrov, her protagonist, works for a government spy agency, who sends him on a mission without his knowledge of the dangers he faces. Manning explores political intrigue and corruption at the highest levels of government. Questions of deception, loyalty, and conscience are what makes this thriller so absorbing — questions with which, on a smaller scale, we all must grapple. She describes the areas that Petrov visits and the work he does in great detail, which attests to her research. She is an excellent writer. The dialog is sharp, the characters are memorable, and the insider details are fascinating. Having enjoyed her first novel so much, I also read the second Kolya Petrov thriller novel, ‘Nerve Attack.’ Her third international thriller, ‘Bloody Soil,’ will be published later this year. I will read that one also. ‘Trojan Horse’ was the winner of the 2020 Kops-Fetherling International Phoenix Award for New Voice in action/thriller.”

Elinda Kiss, associate clinical professor of finance.

On Human Nature

On Human Nature

By Edward O. Wilson

“I decided to read this book again when Edward Wilson, who has been called the most influential biologist since Darwin, died last year. He founded the field of sociobiology, which seeks to explain social behaviors of humans and other animals from evolutionary principles. This field later spawned evolutionary psychology, which has had some impact on consumer and business research. The book received a Pulitzer Prize. While much of the material is now less controversial than at the time, it is still an interesting read.”

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

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