Smith Brain Trust / May 24, 2023

Summer Reading List 2023

Summer Reading List 2023

SMITH BRAIN TRUST – If you’re looking for the perfect book to take on your summer vacation or just to curl up with on a warm summer night, Smith has the book for you!

The 20th Annual Summer Reading List for Business Leaders has recommendations from University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business faculty. It includes books about banking, investing, self-improvement, leadership, and sustainability. There’s a biography, an autobiography, a look back at a landmark Supreme Court decision and an edge-of-your-seat thriller. 

Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World

By Liaquat Ahamed

“This is about the central bankers of the United States, England, France and Germany, and how they managed the financial system during the 1920s and 30s.”

-Martin Dresner, Professor and Chair of Logistics, Business and Public Policy

This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly

By Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff

“This book came out after the 2008 financial crisis but is a reminder that these kinds of major risk events are not one-offs, but rather have a tendency to recur. We seem to rationalize current economic conditions to conform to our view without realizing we’ve seen this movie before.”

-Clifford Rossi, Professor of the Practice and Center for Financial Policy Executive-in-Residence

The Power of Flexing: How to Use Small Daily Experiments to Create Big Life-Changing Growth

By Susan Ashford

“If you liked James Clear’s Atomic Habits, you’ll love learning more about the science behind these ideas. If you want to grow as a leader, you need to push yourself beyond your comfort zone. How? Try flexing with small experiments! Over time, these flexes will build into new habits and a whole new life.”

-Nicole Coomber, assistant dean of Experiential Learning and clinical professor of management and organization

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

By James Clear

“This book will help you make behavioral change – whether yours or someone else’s – that is more likely to happen and stick. The book provides simple, well-researched structure to help make good habits irresistible and bad ones easy to ignore. A great tool for sharpening your saw.”

-Neta Moye, assistant dean and Executive Director of the Office of Career Services and clinical professor of leadership

Once Upon A Prime: The Wondrous Connections Between Mathematics and Literature

By Sarah Hart

“This is a delightful book written by mathematician Sarah Hart, the first woman to hold the Gresham Professorship in Geometry. Math is present of course in patterns of poetry and the structure of narrative, but the connections run deeper than I knew or expected. The interspersed anecdotes about writers, real and fictional mathematicians, and great books are especially entertaining.”

-Kislaya Prasad, Academic Director of the Center for Global Business and research professor in decision, operations and information technologies

And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle

By Jon Meacham

“I have read a fascinating biography about Abraham Lincoln. He was without a doubt our American Pillar. Formidable. Brilliant. Autodidactic. His mind exhibited genius at a level rarely seen in political circles. He was a man of humble beginnings – raised in a log cabin in Kentucky. He would hold sway over the nation and lead us in our darkest hour. When the United States was ready to split itself in half over the horrific and deplorable institution of slavery, he stood his ground and articulated why freedom should be extended to all. He lingers in the public’s memory and continues to be lionized in our schools because Abraham Lincoln represents the best example of how one righteous soul can make a profound difference. Do yourself a favor and carve out some time for And There Was Light”.

-Henry C. Boyd III, clinical professor of marketing

How To Invest: Masters On The Craft

By David M. Rubenstein

“The author interviews 23 of the most successful investors in various asset classes, including public equities, fixed income, real estate, hedge funds, private equity, and cryptocurrencies. Such luminaries as Seth Klarman, Stan Druckenmiller, Jim Simons, Ray Dalio and Larry Fink reveal their early failures and how they achieved extraordinary results.”

-David Kass, clinical professor of finance

Remote Not Distant: Design a Company Culture That Will Help You Thrive in a Hybrid Workplace

By Gustavo Razzetti

“In the post-pandemic world, numerous organizations are rethinking how and where work is done. Some are choosing to bring employees back into the office, while others focus on succeeding through remote work. Both choices bring a plethora of consequences. In this captivating read, Gustavo Razzetti explores the impact of remote work on organizational culture. He also offers advice on how organizations can craft a culture that will optimize the effects of remote work. The book is practical and supported by numerous examples from a variety of successful leaders. A good and worthwhile read.”

-Gosia Langa-Basit, management and organization senior lecturer

Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness

By William Styron

“This is an easy or light read in terms of length (under 100 pages), but not in terms of content. Although it was published back in 1990, based on the experiences of the author (of Sophie’s Choice fame) from 1985-1986, as might be gleaned from the title, the book centers around the devastation of mental illness. It’s a very timely subject given the numerous tragedies this year and during the coronavirus pandemic, which is no longer a global health emergency, but whose long-term impact on the world’s mental health will still be felt for years. Having a close friend and family member in the throes of mental illness also makes this personally relevant.”

-Michael Fu, Smith Chair of management science

Separate: The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson, and America’s Journey From Slavery to Segregation

By Steve Luxenberg

“This book explores the history of what is arguably one of the worst decisions by our Supreme Court. And while this 1896 case seems remote to our world, having been overturned multiple times since, its relevance has seemingly been given new life in light of recent legislation passed in Florida limiting funding for teaching acceptance of diversity in the human race. Regardless of what side of the aisle you sit on, this book is a must-read. It is history the way it should be taught, telling the story of the people and tracing the lives of some of the key players. The reader relives the events factually and emotionally. At the same time, it is inspirational, to see the fortitude of people going against the majority to voice their inner convictions. A history teacher of mine taught incessantly that we must learn history to better understand our times. The history here doesn’t seem so far away from our times.”

-Samuel Handwerger, accounting and information assurance lecturer

Choosing to Run: A Memoir

By Des Linden with Bonnie D. Ford

“This is an inspirational memoir from Olympian and Boston Marathon winner Des Linden, sharing both her personal story and what motivates her to get up and run every day. It is a story of perseverance in the face of challenges and adversity. It’s also about the joy of achievement. In 2018 the weather at the Boston Marathon was atrocious – 39 degrees and rainy with gusty winds. Most of the elite athletes were unable to handle the conditions and many dropped out. Des shares her story of working her way through this monumental race with grit, resolve and perseverance. She faced up to the darkest challenges and became the first American woman to win the race in over 30 years. There are many valuable lessons to be learned here that can help with managerial and life challenges.”

-Raghu Raghavan, Dean’s Professor of management science and operations management

Beyond Good: How Technology is Leading a Purpose-Driven Business Revolution

By Theodora Lau, Bradley Leimer

“Theodora Lau creates an in-depth analysis of the impact of technology on how corporations can create sustainable social impact. From analyzing startups to the impact of B-Corps and even how to become a purpose-driven leader, this book showcases the future of business.”

-Nima Farshchi, Executive Director of the Office of Experiential Learning, Director of the Center for Social Value Creation and management and organization lecturer

The Good Life: Lessons from the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness

By Robert Waldinger, Marc Schulz

“This book tells the story of a fascinating 80-year study that looks at lives over time and reveals who winds up happy, who doesn’t, and why. This illuminates how good relationships are the foundation of well-being. Backed by extraordinary research, the authors provide advice and actionable items to help readers pursue good relationships and ultimately a good life.”

-Christine M. Schaaf, Faculty Director of the Smith Business Leadership Fellows Program, business communications and marketing lecturer

The Song of the Cell: An Exploration of Medicine and the New Human

By Siddhartha Mukherjee

“Siddhartha Mukherjee’s most recent book (after The Emperor of Maladies and The Gene) traces the history of the study of cell biology and lucidly explains how the knowledge of cells has helped the medical profession find cures and treatments for various ailments including AIDS, COVID and cancer. The author, a practicing oncologist, discusses his experience with patient treatment using advances in immunotherapy.”

-Progyan Basu, clinical professor of accounting and information assurance

Bloody Soil: A Kolya Petrov Thriller

By S. Lee Manning

“This fictional book reflects the rise of neo-Nazis in Europe and potentially in the U.S. Several people are trying to infiltrate the neo-Nazi groups while hoping to destroy them. No one is certain whom they can trust. Bloody Soil does what a good thriller should. It kept me on the edge of my seat and it was difficult to put down. The author hooked me with the first chapter. Her characters are well developed and her plot is intriguing.”

-Elinda Kiss, associate clinical professor of finance

The Softer Side of Leadership: Essential Soft Skills That Transform Leaders and the People They Lead

By Eugene Habecker

“I have studied, led, and been coached for years regarding the softer skills of leadership, but Gene shares a different approach that is fantastic, relevant and relatable to all sectors of business and relationships. I love that he acknowledges the influence of his wife Marylou throughout the journey of leading. Gene is selfless and forward thinking which is certainly portrayed throughout the book.”

-Roy Thomason, management and organization lecturer

Media Contact

Greg Muraski
Media Relations Manager
301-892-0973 Mobile 

Get Smith Brain Trust Delivered To Your Inbox Every Week

Business moves fast in the 21st century. Stay one step ahead with bite-sized business insights from the Smith School's world-class faculty.

Subscribe Now

Read More Research

Back to Top