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Rory Finnegan, Community Editor

Students share recommended books to find new meanings and change the way they see the world.

Growing up, I loved to read and was almost a chore. On the day I got my first library card, I borrowed up to the maximum number of books I could borrow. Since then, I’ve been able to go to the library with my rolling suitcase in tow, empty the entire shelf, and take it home. I well remember late nights reading fantastic novels about adventures in places. In the morning I awoke to the smell of pressed pages inked on my cheeks. The book I was reading acted not only as a temporary pillow for the night, but also as a beacon to the world of my love for the written word.

That childhood love was annoying, yes, but real. However, during the years I spent working long hours in an American company, I stopped reading altogether.

In the last few months, I’ve rediscovered the joy of diving into a really good book and started getting back to it. Something I always knew but somehow forgot. As a new RC from HBS, I don’t want to miss it.

If it resonates with you, or if you want to read something other than this semester’s case, start here. HBS students wrote the book that had the greatest impact on their lives. We have selected 11 to share with you.

If you are looking for examples of leadership

The rise of Theodore Roosevelt Edmund Morris

“Before coming to HBS, I went on a cross-country road trip. Roosevelt’s early days (hunter, traveler, budding conservationist) while camping in the Badlands, Flathead Forest and California Redwoods. By chance, while camping a mile from his home base in Medora, North Dakota, As I read about his fictional ranch adventures (including some serious battles) in the Dakota Badlands, I could see the pages come to life before my eyes! – Eric Horn, MBA ’24

walk with destiny Andrew Robert

“Winston Churchill’s biography of Andrew Robert is the most meaningful non-fiction book I have ever read. The relentless energy and inexhaustible will of a leader who stood alone against appeasement, to lead in times of crisis and to act with conviction and moral conviction in times of great tragedy and suffering. For anyone interested in the subject, Robert’s biography of Churchill is a must read.” – John Pedro, MBA ’24

If you like fiction that makes you think

all invisible light Anthony Doerr

“It is rare to find a book that combines magical storytelling with prose so beautiful that it reads like poetry. , all invisible light A story of a blind French girl and a German soldier at the end of World War II. A reminder that there are always two sides to her in the story, even in the bleak realities of war. – Paulina Llano, MBA ’22

secret history Donna Tartt

“The novel revolves around a privileged group of brilliant undergraduates under the guidance and influence of an idiosyncratic classics professor. It not only refreshes the An eye-opening depiction of how a secular intellectual environment breeds fanaticism, idolatry, and the most extreme experiments.” – Catalina Pickert, MBA ’24

If you want to learn about something new or niche

Finite and infinite games James Curse

“This book was introduced to me in 2018, when blockchain was becoming mainstream. I love the premise that there are two kinds of games in this world. and limited by rules and time.The Game of Infinity is the game you play because the game never ends.It is a great metaphor with broad metaphysical application to many aspects of life.” – Celeste Chia, MBA ’23

everyday design Don Norman

“This book explores the design of everyday objects such as coffee pots, but also delves into more complex objects such as aircraft and nuclear systems. It was immediately understandable and relevant because it broadened my perspective on the importance of design and its impact on behavior, and directly influenced the quality of my work conducting test and evaluation flights for the Marine Corps. It made an impact.” – Mark Betzel, MBA ’24

Looking for advice or motivation?

Working Couples: How Dual Career Couples Succeed in Love and Work Jennifer Petriglieri

“I read this book when my wife moved out of her comfort zone, quit her job, and joined me on the small island in the Indian Ocean where we first met. As we search for wisdom about how we make complex decisions when negotiating our career and couple-level needs, the research and insights in this book will spark meaningful conversations about the principles that ultimately guide us. It turned out to be something to do.” – Theodore Sutherland, MBA ’24

Guts: the power of passion and perseverance Angela Duckworth

Angela Duckworth presents a new paradigm for achieving greatness: grit is key. It’s the combination of inseparable passion and perseverance. She touches on embracing failure as a learning process, the value of showing up, and following through on commitments. If you want to read a book that resonates with your former self and inspires your future self, courage It should be your next companion over a cup of coffee. – Justine Malabanan, MBA ’24

Tiny Beautiful Things: Love and Life Advice from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed

“Sheryl Strayed, who once wrote as anonymous ‘Sugar’, receives thousands of questions from people around the world each year. She explores everything from love and loss to addiction to family to growing up.” I answered with the story of my life that I covered. I have given this book more than a dozen times to friends who have lost a loved one, are separated, are starting a new chapter in their lives, or just need some inspiration. It is a book in which the sound of drums resounds incessantly. – Rory Finnegan, MBA ’24

if you want to go deep

Dying: Medicine and What Ultimately Matters Atul Gawande

“This book was given to me by a friend when my grandfather became ill and thought his life was coming to an end. , dignity and health outcomes, but it also speaks to the importance of difficult conversations and the reality of accepting near death to make the most of the time we have left. There are many very personal stories that resonate.” – Brian Hauer, MBA ’24

when your breath becomes air Paul Karanich

“This is the memoir of a neurosurgeon dying of lung cancer at the age of 37. Thinking about the question of what makes it worthwhile, this book not only made me think about the meaning of my own life, but also about the most fundamental elements of the human psyche that give it depth. In Paul’s words, “Hope, Fear, Love, Hate, Beauty, Envy, Honor, Weakness, Effort, Suffering, Virtue” – Hazel Tan, MBA ’24

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In books we look for ourselves. We are looking for characters and writers that we can relate to at a similar stage in life. We look for the appropriate string of words to describe what we feel or experience. With any luck, books teach us something. If we are really lucky, they will change us.


Rory Finnegan (MBA ’24) is from New Jersey. She graduated from the University of Virginia with her poetry writing degree in her 2018. Before she joined HBS, she worked in consulting and she worked in CEO communications in New York.

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