Planning on doing some winter reading? Throw one of these books into your bag 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 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, emphasised short-term vs. long-term profitability, and traded frequently without regard to the costs vs. 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 vs. actively managed funds is better for investors because of the lower costs of index funds.
- reviewed by Susan White, teaching fellow in Finance
The Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar (2010)
The Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar. Photo / Twitter @evelyndesigns29
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 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 impacts 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 behaviours. 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!
- reviewed by 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)
Think like a freak by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. Photo / Twitter @jmsilhavy
This book is on my 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.
- reviewed by Alex Triantis, Smith School dean
Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein (2008)
Two business books to read this winter - The Confidence Code and Nudge. Photo / Twitter @AmblingBooks, @GregorianGma
Nudge is co-authored by a powerful duo: the creator of the field of behavioural economics and a prolific legal writer who has been an adviser to President Barack Obama.
Thaler and Sunstein draw from the results of behavioural 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 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 behavioural science, business and public policy.
- reviewed by 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.
- reviewed by 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.
- reviewed by Kathryn Bartol, professor of management and organisation
#GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso (2014)
#Girlboss and Creative Confidence. Photo / Twitter @herogfxcom
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 around the world.
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").
- reviewed by Rebecca Winner, executive director of marketing communications
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 give us the break out of our ruts and be more creative.
- reviewed by Mark Wellman, teaching fellow in management and organisation
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.
- reviewed by Curt Grimm, professor and chair of Economics and Strategy
- Washington Post