20 Must Read Books for Business School Students

If you’re planning on attending an elite business school or have already graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree and are looking to obtain your Masters in Business Administration (MBA), you will probably want to familiarize yourself with the material prior to the beginning of class. No one wants to be the only student in class that has no idea what the professor/everyone else is talking about.


Fortunately, there are quite a few books that can help prepare you for what to expect in business school, and some of them may even teach you a thing or two you won’t learn in a classroom.


After doing some research, and speaking with friends and colleagues who got their MBAs without any prior business backgrounds, many of whom said they wished they had better prepared, I decided to compile a list for you all of the top 20 books to read to prepare for the traditional business school curriculum. These books will introduce you to a core set of business concepts you will encounter both in the classroom and in real life. Moreover, they will be great reference materials throughout your studies (note however that none of the books on this list are actual textbooks and should not be used in replacement of your textbook but rather used as supplemental study aides).

Of course, reading each and every one of these books will take quite a bit of time and energy, so you may choose to read only the books which cover the ideas and concepts you find most interesting and/or relevant, or that you feel you know the least about. If you remain motivated and committed however, reading each book on the list is doable in a summer, and will certainly benefit you the most. Happy reading!


1. The Knack by Norm Brodsky & Bo Burlingham. (Business creation)
2. Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. (Value creation and testing)
3. The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries & Jack Trout. (Marketing)
4. The Psychology of Selling by Brian Tracy. (Sales)
5. The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Eliyahu Goldrat. (Value Delivery)
6. Accounting Made Simple by Mike Piper. (Finance & Accounting)
7. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. (Pyschology and the human mind)
8. The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr & Tony Schwartz. (Productivity and Effectiveness)
9. The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch. (Problem Solving)
10. Self-Directed Behavior by David L. Watson & Roland G. Tharp. (Behavioral Change)
11. Ethics for the Real World by Ronald Howard & Clinton Korver. (Decision Making)
12. The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert Bly. (Communication)
13. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. (Influence)
14. Bargaining For Advantage by G. Richard Shell. (Note: The importance of advanced negotiation training is overlooked by too many business student.)
15. 12: The Elements of Great Managing by Rodd Wagner & James Harter. (Management)
16. The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan by George Bradt et al. (Leadership)
17. Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows. (Systems)
18. The Economist Numbers Guide by Richard Stuteley. (Analysis)
19. Thinking Statistically by Uri Bram. (Statistics)
20. Purpose: The Starting Point of Great Companies by Nikos Mourkogiannis. (Business Strategy)

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