Career & Success

Six Books to Read on Your Summer Staycation

Stanford business professors share what they’re reading at home right now.

August 13, 2020

| by Jenny Luna Steve Hawk


An illustration of a book. Credit: iStock/axllll

From neurobiology to capitalism reimagined, here are some books to enrich your summer. | iStock/axllll

We asked Stanford Graduate School of Business professors to reveal what they’ve been reading this summer. Their responses range from insights into the neurological origins of human behavior to a debunking of the belief that businesses exist only to make money. As the closing weeks of summer approach, carve out some quiet time and dive in.

Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance by Alex Hutchinson

“A fascinating look at how mind and body interact at the edges of human performance. The science that explores the limits of human biology and epic feats of endurance (including Nike’s recent assault on the two-hour marathon) also reveals that what matters is not just what’s going on in the body, but how the brain interprets, and then controls, those signals. The lessons here can be useful for those trying to help organizations, governments, families, and individuals succeed.”

— Robert Daines, professor of finance (by courtesy)

Bossypants by Tina Fey

“I like to say that all I really need to know about life I learned from Tina Fey’s Bossypants. Key life lessons include:

  • Whatever the problem, be part of the solution.
  • Don’t be afraid to send unsolicited love letters to whoever your business/creative/life hero is.
  • Never lose sight of the weirdo on roller skates you were in 4th grade.
  • You’re going to fail sometimes, and that is fine (as long as you learn and/or laugh afterwards).

“Whether you are a Tiny Fey fan or not, I dare you to read this book and not love it. I’ve reread it 13 times.”

Jennifer Aaker, the General Atlantic Professor

Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire by Rebecca Henderson

“This book has an important message about the critical role of purpose-driven businesses in our society and how capitalism and democracy need to interact constructively to solve our most pressing challenges.”

Robert Joss, the Philip H. Knight Professor and Dean, Emeritus

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight

“This book provides an inspiring and captivating story of how Phil Knight turned a small startup into the world’s most iconic company. It is filled with his helpful tips on how to be a successful businessperson. I’d recommend it to all aspiring entrepreneurs.”

Suzie Noh, assistant professor of accounting

Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert Sapolsky

“A fascinating, state-of-the-art exploration of the enormity of factors that influence human behavior. While the book contains a multitude of insights, one that stands out is that the relationship between behavior, hormones, and neurochemicals is far more complicated than typically conveyed in popular science.”

Kevin Smith, assistant professor of accounting

Monstrous Regiment: A Novel of Discworld by Terry Pratchett

“I’m reading this for FUN!”

Erica Plambeck, the Charles A. Holloway Professor of Operations, Information & Technology

For media inquiries, visit the Newsroom.

Explore More