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10 Best Business Books to Read This Summer


The last thing you want to think about during precious downtime this summer is your practice, but taking time to learn more about the business side may be more interesting than you think. Maybe by picking up one of these books on the beach, your practice's business will also pick up.

Book stack

The last thing you want to think about during precious downtime this summer is your practice, but taking time to learn more about the business side may be more interesting than you think. The faculty of the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland recently released their annual list of best business books to read this summer. Maybe by picking up one of these books on the beach, your practice’s business will also pick up.

Have you read any of these books, or have any recommendations of your own? Leave your reviews and suggestions in the comments.

More Than You Know

By Michael J. Mauboussin (2007)

10. “More Than You Know: Finding Financial Wisdom in Unconventional Places”

Despite being the oldest book on the list, reviewers say that every time you read it, you discover new insights into the complex world of investing. Mauboussin goes through his multi-disciplinary approach to understanding the stock market in 50 essays, with ideas drawn from sources as diverse as biology, strategy, and philosophy. While the author is a financial writer for financial advisers, the concepts he discusses are understandable to anyone interested in finance.

Social Physics

By Alex “Sandy” Pentland (2014)

9. “Social Physics: How Good Ideas Spread — The Lessons from a New Science”

How are ideas turned into behaviors? Where does common sense come from? MIT’s Pentland describes how using Big Data helps us to understand the flow of ideas and the social habits of people. University of Maryland Assistant Professor of Marketing Bill Rand writes, "It is these tools that will enable a new wave of predictive analytics that will help businesses to better understand changes in their consumer base. Sandy also discusses in detail both the benefits and potential pitfalls of the big data movement, and calls for a 'New Deal on Data' that guarantees to consumers that their data will be used responsibly." Considering the government’s push for more data use in medicine, this could be a helpful primer for understanding some of the theories behind using the numbers.

One Minute Manager

By Ken Blanchard, PhD, and Spencer Johnson, MD (2015)

8. “The New One Minute Manager”

An updated release of an old business classic looks at what makes a manager effective, and how can this lesson be applied both in and out of the work place. Reworking their three keys to good leadership for the modern, global economy, the advice is doled out in story-form, rather than a lecture. Blanchard and Johnson have been writing useful social science books for decades (including “Who Moved My Cheese?), with nearly 80 million copies of their books in publication. At 112 pages, it’s a quick and powerful read.

Berkshire Beyond Buffett

” By Lawrence A. Cunningham (2014)

7. “Berkshire Beyond Buffett: The Enduring Value of Values

With founder and CEO Warren Buffett in his mid-80s, the question of how Berkshire Hathaway will remain successful after he leaves is an interesting one to speculate on. In this book, Cunningham reviews the corporate values that drive numerous subsidiaries to all strive towards a singular success. Topics such as succession planning, management strategy, investing, employee autonomy, and decision making are useful to anyone leading a company — from Fortune 500 to small practice.

The Righteous Mind

By Jonathan Haidt, PhD (2013)

6. “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion”

Healthcare is at the center of political and moral debates, ones that seem to be continually losing middle grown and growing more acrimonious. Is healthcare a right or a privilege? Should business pay for insurance, should care be paid for by the government, or is there another solution out there? Haidt goes into why there are so many smart, good people in every shade of the political spectrum, and how their moral justifications for their political positions are distinct. He also uses his own biases to demonstrate the power of his research in a very readable way.

Work Rules

By Laszlo Bock (2015)

5. “Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead”

Ever wonder how Google attracted all that talent and built such an enviable workplace? The company’s head of its People Operations department opens up the company’s inner workings in “Work Rules!” to share just how they turned into an IT and HR juggernaut. PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra K. Nooyi reviewed the book by saying “With a clear-eyed, data driven look into today’s workplace, Bock reveals the non-traditional practices that can fundamentally transform businesses of all kinds.” High praise from a woman who has her own unique ways to lead a massive company.

The Emperor of All Maladies

By Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD (2011)

4. “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer”

Okay, so this is a book written about healthcare by a doctor, but rather than straight medicine, Mukherjee writes the “biography” of cancer through “centuries of discoveries, setbacks, victories, and deaths.” Mukherjee won the Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction for this work, which takes us back thousands of years as well as asks questions about where we are going in the war against cancer. Maryland’s Ritu Agarwal, professor and Dean’s Chair of Information Systems, says “The book provides a detailed and rich account of the progress of science and the research enterprise — and how social forces, government policy and pure serendipity affect the search for truth."

Are You Fully Charged?

By Tom Rath (2015)

3. “Are You Fully Charged?: The 3 Keys to Energizing Your Work and Life”

Rath’s already established that his well-researched books can influence big changes in the workplace (“Strengthfinders 2.0”, “Eat, Sleep, Move”), and this time he focuses on creating more energy in our lives. Who couldn’t use a little more energy? From Amazon: “Drawing on the latest and most practical research from business, psychology, and economics, this book focuses on changes we can make to create better days for ourselves and others.” The book is being turned into a documentary, and Rath gives a quick preview into some of his insights on his website. According to Rath, rediscovering the meaning in what you do can recharge your energy personally and professionally.

The Bet

By Paul Sabin (2014)

2. “The Bet: Paul Ehrlich, Julian Simon, and Our Gamble over Earth’s Future”

Sabin, a Yale historian, chronicles the infamous bet made between the biologist Erhlich and the economist Simon (who happened to teach at the Robert H. Smith School of Business) on whether overpopulation will lead to a global catastrophe. Sabin did the media rounds when the book was released, talking about “The Bet” — both the book and the historical argument between the two academics. It has it all – environmentalism, economics, name-calling, political science, and gambling. Bill Gates listed it as one of the best books he read in 2013 (likely an advance copy).

Pitch Perfect

By Bill McGowan with Alisa Bowman (2014)

1. “Pitch Perfect: How to Say It Right the First Time, Every Time”

Unfortunately, this is not a book about sassy acapella singers. But! Reading this book can improve your communication skills, if not your vocal range. McGowan is an Emmy-winning journalist and an in-demand consultant, helping celebrities and Fortune 500 executives craft the right messages and get them across the right way. McGowan goes over techniques for ensuring you’re heard, understood, and memorable, whether in a meeting with colleagues, in a consultation with a patient, or with your family at home. Some of the art of speaking to one another has been lost in the era of electronic communication -- “Pitch Perfect” is an opportunity to relearn face-to-face communication.

Read the University of Maryland’s list here.

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