Skip to main content
19 Aug

10 Books for Every MBA Student’s Reading List

woman-in-library-looking-at-books

If you want to succeed in business, we have some advice: Open a book.

Books provide easy access to the world’s experts in areas such as marketing, communications, strategy, ethics, finance, technology, or, really, any subject covered in the nation’s top MBA programs. And, the best books are also a joy to read, full of truly life-changing lessons and wisdom.

But with thousands of business books published every year, how do you decide which books are worth your time? How do you curate an MBA reading list that will help polish your professional skills and advance your career?

Start here. We’ve combed through the MBA reading lists of top business school programs to discover that many of the classic titles and newer releases on the best-seller lists are also consistently recommended by CEOs. From those lists, here are 10 must-read books for every MBA student:

1. “How to Win Friends & Influence People” by Dale Carnegie

First published in 1937, this business classic has sprung legions of fans (including billionaire investor Warren Buffett) of Carnegie’s timeless lessons for understanding human motivation. Carnegie could have had every MBA-seeking student in mind when he wrote: “…the person who has technical knowledge plus the ability to express ideas, to assume leadership, and to arouse enthusiasm among people—that person is headed for higher earning power.”

2. “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D.

Academics and CEOs alike praise this bestselling book on the psychology behind persuasion—in essence, why people say “yes”—boiled down into six universal principles based on the ethical business applications of the science of influence.

3. “The Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham

Another Buffett favorite, this authoritative book was originally published in 1949 by the late investment advisor Benjamin Graham, and revised in 2006 by business journalist Jason Zweig. The easy-to-read text outlines Graham's strategy of "value investing” and how to apply his principles in today’s market.

4. “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” by Angela Duckworth

Declared a must-read business book by Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and a host of thought leaders, Duckworth uses sciences and examples of high achievers to support her hypothesis that success is driven not by genius, but a combination of passion and perseverance.

5. “The Infinite Game” by Simon Senak

In his latest book to make the New York Times’ best-selling business titles, the author of “Start with Why” and “Leaders Eat Last” details his theory that leaders who embrace an infinite mindset have “the resilience to thrive in an ever-changing world, while their competitors fall by the wayside.”

6. “Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike” by Phil Knight

Nike founder Phil Knight shares the inside story of his early days building a business around shoes and details its evolution into one of the world’s most powerful brands.

7. “The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success” by William N. Thorndike, Jr.

You might have never heard of the eight CEOs profiled in this book, but that’s the point: These exceptional leaders are concerned less with grabbing the headlines and far more interested in delivering returns for shareholders over the long term. Forbes called it “one of the most important business books in America.”

8. “See Sooner, Act Faster: How Vigilant Leaders Thrive in the Era of Digital Turbulence” by George S. Day and Paul J.H. Schoemaker

What to do when turbulence is the new normal? The authors identify vigilant leadership and draw on a range of cases, including the successes and misses of companies like Shell Global, Mastercard, Charles Schwab, and Honeywell.

9. “The Lean Start-Up” by Eric Ries

Entrepreneurs—in start-ups or established companies of all sizes—can adopt the author’s scientific approach to adapt, adjust, and innovate. Ries, an entrepreneur, uses his own experiences to explain this approach in a book praised by CEOs and business faculty at Harvard, U.C. Berkeley, and Stanford universities.

10. “First Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently” by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman

Want to be an exceptional leader and boss? You’ll have to break a few rules. Based on in-depth interviews of 80,000 managers in 400 companies by the Gallup Organization, authors Buckingham and Coffman show that the world’s best managers break many of the conventional rules about how to succeed.

Grow Your Business Knowledge with Seattle U

Reading to increase your business knowledge is an indispensable part of the learning process, but it doesn’t have to end there. Earning a graduate business degree from the Albers School of Business and Economics at Seattle University will help you apply what you learn in books to the real world.

Hands-on learning is integrated into the Albers School of Business and Economics Online MBA and Online Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) programs. Guided by expert faculty, students engage in real-time interaction and collaboration as they develop ethical and people-centered business skills and a problem-solving mindset.