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Our Favorite Books

We asked Robins School of Business faculty and staff members to share their favorite books that they would recommend to students, alumni and the community alike. Take a look at their thoughts below. 

Check back periodically for new recommendations.

Nancy Bagranoff, Dean



The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

Anything by Malcolm Gladwell is good, but especially The Tipping Point.


Investing: The Last Liberal Art by Robert Hagstrom

This is an excellent book for finance students to read.


Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

This is one of my favorites. A really good book about business and leadership.


All the Devils Are Here and The Smartest Guys in the Room by Bethany McLean

She spoke in the Robins Executive Speaker Series on February 3, 2015.


The Martian by Andy Weir

This would count as a fun read, but it is not related to business. It’s a bit of science fiction, but also something of a classic "Robinson Crusoe" story, except this is set on another planet.

Jada Banks, Adjunct Instructor



The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

The book is a classic in how to be effective in our personal and professional lives. Covey’s wisdom and the many ways you can apply it are timeless.


Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath & Dan Heath

The authors provide a multitude of ways we can add value to the conversation and communicate ideas in a way that will be memorable.


Leading With Questions by Michael Marquardt

Leadership is less about knowing all the answers and much more about knowing what, when and who to ask. This text reinforces the importance of engaging in conversations that encourage participation, leadership and new ways of problem-solving.

Doug Bosse, Associate Professor of Management



What I Didn't Learn in Business School: How Strategy Works in the Real World by Jay B. Barney & Trish Gorman Clifford

The book is written as a novel, so it reads very quickly like a story. You will, however, learn quite a bit about business by reading it. Several people have told me that they have read it multiple times.


On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

Anyone who needs to write anything (and that is everyone) will like this book, even if you do not like King’s other books. It is laugh-out-loud funny in several spots, and it gives a fresh perspective on the writing process.

Shelley Burns, Director of Career Programs in Business



The Art of the Pitch by Peter Coughter 

This is an easy but important read. If you are to succeed in your career, you need strong communication skills!


Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

As Sheryl Sandberg suggests in her book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, women continue to outpace men in educational achievement, yet they have ceased making real progress at the top of any industry. Women hold around 14% of Fortune 500 executive-officer positions and about 17% of board seats, numbers that have barely budged over the last decade. This means that when it comes to making the decisions that most affect a women's world, women's voices are not heard equally. This book examines why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled and offers compelling strategies for empowering women to achieve their full potential.

Paul Clikeman, Associate Professor of Accounting



Watership Down by Richard Adams

This is a great adventure story told from the point of view of rabbits forced to relocate after their homes were destroyed by bulldozers.


One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson

This book describes what America was like when baseball, bootlegging, boxing, “talking pictures” and Charles Lindbergh dominated the headlines. History was never so interesting.


Ireland by Frank Delaney

An itinerant storyteller wanders the Irish countryside telling stories – some mythical, some factual – about the history of Ireland.


Spencer's Mountain by Earl Hamner, Jr.

Every University of Richmond student should read this autobiographical novel by Richmond alumnus Earl Hamner, Jr. about a high school aged boy who longs to attend college (University of Richmond), so he can escape the poverty of rural Virginia. The TV series “The Waltons” was based on this book.


Holes by Louis Sachar

This book won the Newberry Award for children’s literature, but I read it as an adult and thought it was a great story. Did you know eating onions can save your life?

Thomas Cossé, Associate Dean for International Business Programs



The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

Inspirational story of the Washington State University row team composed of working class young men during the Great Depression who won gold in the 1936 Olympics in National Germany. A beautifully written book.


Eiffel's Tower by Jill Jonnes

The story of how Gustave Eiffel ‎built his tower for the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris while most Parisians vilified ‎him and the tower as crude, ugly and an insult to the City. (Eiffel also built the Statue of Liberty.)


The Widow Clicquot by Tilar J. Mazzeo

Great biography of the woman who, against odds, not only survived but was successful in the male-dominated Champagne industry. A true entrepreneur whose yellow labeled Champagne is among the most widely regarded Champagnes in the world.

Richard Coughlan, Associate Professor of Management



Quiet: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain

Whether you are an introvert or work with introverts, this well-written book will help you understand human behavior and appreciate the strengths of those who are less likely to seek the spotlight. Cain draws on fascinating research in psychology, neuroscience and communication to create her easy-to-digest book. It is one of my favorite books in recent years.


When Pride Still Mattered by David Maraniss

This is an incredibly detailed biography of football coach Vince Lombardi that has less to do with sports and more to do with leadership, loyalty and teamwork. Maraniss is a gifted writer who allows the reader to get to know the many complexities in Lombardi's life. Although it was published more than 15 years ago, the book remains on a small list of my favorites.


To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink

Dan Pink makes the case that most professionals, regardless of title or function, do a lot of selling. He provides a framework for structuring messages to better persuade others, and in doing so offers tips to negotiators, salespeople and other employees who want to boost their influence. I now draw heavily on this book for certain sections of my Negotiations class.

Randy Raggio, Associate Dean



Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger

What makes your video go "viral" while mine gets only seven "likes"? This book answers that question by identifying six principles that make things contagious.  


Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath & Dan Heath

Why do you remember the story about the guy who woke up in a tub of ice missing a kidney but can't remember what you ate for lunch? This book will help you craft messages that stick in people's minds. 


Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Every business student should read this book! A critical look at Jobs and his career highs and lows. Lots of lessons about what to do and what not to do. 


Car Guys vs. Bean Counters by Bob Lutz

Former Vice Chairman of GM writes about how the "bean counters" (high-priced MBAs) ruined the car industry. Great lessons on putting the customer first.  


To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink

Everyone is in sales. This book helps everyone become better at an activity that everyone does every day, but few recognize as sales. This is not just a marketing book; it is also a great career development book.


22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries & Jack Trout

Every marketer should memorize these laws! Although they are not actually immutable, they are a great starting point until you gain your own experience and learn the boundaries for yourself. 

Nancy Ridgway, Professor of Marketing



Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

This book shows how women still have a long way to go in terms of success in business (or being a professor for that matter). Although women constitute 50% of college grads, they still come up short in terms of leadership positions. It was written well, and thought it can be upsetting, the book is funny.

Laura Thompson, Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Student Services



Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely is a familiar theme of the influence of behavioral economics and psychology. His examples appeal to my work of helping students make decisions with a blend of intuition, logic and experience as they think of their future in the world of business.


The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri is one of my favorite works of fiction in the way the author addresses identity of self, within family and to the outside world. Lahiri writes about simple everyday details with such amazing fluency. Reading her work reminds me of daily life set to classical music…the mundane sounds beautiful with her words and literary voice.


You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life by Eleanor Roosevelt

You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life by Eleanor Roosevelt appeals to my interest in people, what shapes their identity and how they can influence others' actions through their own. Mrs. Roosevelt is an extraordinary woman, yet her wisdom serves as a lesson in even the most ordinary of days.

Jonathan Whitaker, Associate Professor of Management



What I Didn't Learn in Business School: How Strategy Works in the Real World by Jay B. Barney & Trish Gorman Clifford

This novel uses a fictional story of a strategy consultant on their first client project to integrate material from various business school courses, and to communicate some insights that are not covered directly in business school courses.