Ask the AdCom: Reading Recommendations

Hey everybody! We’re back with our second installment of our new weekly column “Ask the AdCom.” We know MBA applicants love to get information straight from the source, and in this space we’ll be sharing tips and advice from admissions team members from a dozen top business schools.

Since AdCom members are human, too, we thought our readers might enjoy seeing  a different side of what makes these guys tick. This fun space is not really about the application process but more about real-life topics, like where’s the best place on campus to eat or study, what are the can’t-miss courses, and all the fun stuff that happens at b-school that makes lifelong memories for students.

We hope you enjoy their insights!

Today’s question is: What’s a good book for b-school student or an aspirant (not a text book)?

Morgan Bernstein, Executive Director of Full-Time MBA Admissions  at UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, recommends:

Life is Good – The Book: How to Live with Purpose and Enjoy the Ride, by Bert and John Jacobs, co-founders of the socially conscious lifestyle company/brand Life is Good. The book celebrates the power of optimism, sharing stories and advice for living simpler, happier, and more fulfilling lives. Given the fast-paced (and oftentimes stressful) lives of MBA students, this book provides a welcome and refreshing retreat from the chaos.

John Roeder, Assistant Dean Graduate Admissions  at SMU Cox School of Business, recommends:

Texas Got It Right by Sam and Andrew Wyly.  While most states are floundering over the last decade, this is an interesting look into Texas history, traits, and policies that have made Texas successful, prosperous and an entrepreneurial powerhouse. After reading this book, aspiring MBAs will have a good idea of why business is booming in the state of Texas and why so many companies are re-locating their corporate Headquarters from the east and west coast.

Texas should be on the radar of any aspiring MBA whether they are choosing to ultimately live in the state or just do business there.

 Rodrigo Malta, Director of Admissions at UT McCombs School of Business, says: Crossing the Chasm is a perennial favorite amongst students and professors.

Kelly R. Wilson, Executive Director of Admissions  at the CMU Tepper School of Business, recommends: Professor Allan Meltzer’s Why Capitalism?

Melissa Fogerty, Director of Admissions at Yale School of Management and obviously an avid reader, recommends:  Prospective MBA students should check out our Yale SOM faculty’s Summer Reading List. This list includes our faculty’s favorite business books, as well as works of fiction, history, and more.

I’ll point out in particular Professor Will Goetzmann’s new book, Money Changes Everything: How Finance Made Civilization Possible, published in 2016 by Princeton University Press, which explores how the development of finance has made the growth of civilizations possible.

As someone who loves to read, I’m looking forward to exploring Goetzmann’s idea of finance as a time machine, which Felix Martin (New York Times Book Review) notes “is a fascinating thesis, brilliantly illuminated by scores of vivid examples, generously illustrated with a wealth of pictures, comprehensive in its geographical and temporal scope, and in my view almost entirely convincing.”

In fiction, I’ll also recommend M.L. Stedman’s New York Times bestselling novel The Light Between Oceans, which I recently read for my book club. I’m looking forward to comparing it to the Derek Cianfrance film starring Rachel Weisz, Alicia Vikander, and Michael Fassbender, which will be out in theaters in September.

Shari Hubert, Associate Dean, MBA Admissions  at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, also has a long list of recommendations:

The Start Up of You –by Reid Hoffman

Banker to the Poor –by Muhammad Yunus

How to Change the World – by David Bornstein

Zero to One –by Peter Thiel

Conscious Capitalism – by John Mackey and Raj Sisodia

The 10-Day MBA – by Steven Silbiger

The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them (by Meg Jay – there’s also a Ted Talk on this) – This book helps to put into context why individuals pursue their MBA and helps to prepare students for the most transformative and defining period of their lives.


Look out for the #AskAdCom in our social media channels, and we’ll see you again next week when we check in to Ask the AdCom to name a great restaurant around campus!



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