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Eight Books to Read This Summer

Smith School of Business professors offer up some of their favourite reads for the cottage (or anywhere else).

Text originally published at: Smith School of Business - Jun 26, 2024


Summer, the season, lasts three months. But let’s face it: the real summer, the cottage-vacation summer, the lazy-pool-days summer, the takin’-it-easy summer, is much shorter. It starts around now and goes until Labour Day and back to school. That’s about eight weeks, give or take. You have to make the most of it.

One thing many of us enjoy during summer is having enough slow time to savour a really good book. But which one? With some eight weeks of summer ahead of us, we asked eight faculty at Smith School of Business to recommend a favourite non-fiction book they’ve recently read.

The resulting list, below, is an eclectic one. Indeed, we think there’s something here for everyone — from a book that reimagines manufacturing for the big-data and AI age, to practical works on sales and designing your life, plus a stellar autobiography by the world’s greatest-ever international soccer scorer. And, yes, she’s Canadian.



The Science and Art of Longevity

by Peter Attia

Recommended by: Olena Ivus, E. Marie Shantz Fellow of Business Economics

This book redefines how we approach aging and health. The author, Peter Attia, is a Canadian-American physician who has studied longevity (he’s also a Queen’s University graduate). In Outlive, he introduces the concept of “Medicine 3.0,” advocating for proactive and holistic health strategies to extend both lifespan and healthspan. The book is structured around four pillars — exercise, nutrition, sleep and emotional health — and delves into the “Four Horsemen” of aging: cancer, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and neurodegenerative diseases. Along the way, Attia integrates cutting-edge science with practical advice for readers. I particularly appreciate his emphasis on the importance of distinguishing between correlation and actual cause-and-effect relationships in medical science. This is highly relevant when evaluating the impact of various lifestyle interventions on health outcomes. – Olena Ivus

The Profiteers

The Profiteers

How Business Privatizes Profits and Socializes Costs

by Christopher Marquis

Recommended by: Juan Francisco Chavez R., Assistant Professor of Strategy and Organizations

In The Profiteers, author Christopher Marquis (a professor at Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge in England) offers a thought-provoking critique of our economic system, calling for a systemic approach to address business impacts on society and the environment. The book provides insights into how businesses can adopt forward-thinking paradigms such as circularity and regeneration. There are also numerous examples of harmful practices to avoid and sustainable practices to adopt. Marquis argues that superficial sustainability efforts are insufficient, and he advocates for a re-evaluation of business models and the role of business in society and politics. Overall, The Profiteers urges leaders to embrace systemic changes that prioritize sustainability, especially in these critical times. – Juan Francisco Chavez R.

Designing Your Life

Designing Your Life

How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life

by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

Recommended by: Erin Webster, Distinguished Teaching Fellow of Accounting

What is the good life and how do you live it? If you are a lifelong learner interested in optimizing your time, finding your purpose and living with joy, Designing Your Life is the book for you. Authors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans are Stanford University design educators who provide concrete steps to finding your life compass, building your way forward through bias to action, and designing your dream job and life. Practical exercises, brainstorming techniques and concrete examples challenge the reader to think like a designer. The result: a fun and actionable book. – Erin Webster

The Sales Leader They Need

The Sales Leader They Need

Five Critical Skills to Unlock Your Team’s Potential

by David Priemer

Recommended by: Jim Hamilton, Distinguished Teaching Fellow of Sales Management

This is the second book that David Priemer has written in recent years. The first was a bestseller, Sell the Way You Buy, which laid the foundation and provided the frameworks for how salespeople need to adapt to remain relevant in a buyer-centric world. In The Sales Leader They Need, he focuses on one of the most challenging roles in organizations today, that of sales manager and leader. This book is helpful whether you are starting out as a sales executive in a small business or you are an experienced sales manager at a large company. Priemer lays out five core skills that are essential to effectively manage a high-performing sales organization in highly competitive business markets. Whether it is promoting transparency, advocating for your sales team, driving accountability, coaching high performers or perfecting the art of giving and getting feedback, Priemer provides timeless and experience-based guidance on how to best lead sales organizations today. It is a must-read if you are responsible for sales organizational performance. – Jim Hamilton

Playing the Long Game: A Memoir

Playing the Long Game: A Memoir

by Christine Sinclair

Recommended by: Tandy Thomas, E. Marie Shantz Fellow of Marketing

Christine Sinclair is a household name in Canada. She has, after all, scored more goals than any other human on the planet in international soccer. Yes, this book is empowering and interesting (and I will make my children — both my daughters and my son — read it). But Playing the Long Game takes on extra import at this particular time in history when we are on the cusp of a movement in women’s sports with the launch of the Northern Super League, Canada’s professional women’s soccer league (created by Smith Executive MBA graduates Diana Matheson and Thomas Gilbert). While not a traditional business book, this memoir provides insights into the lives of players whose roles in the Northern Super League will soon lead to a booming business, fuelled by a love of soccer and driven by all those young girls who grew up being inspired by Christine Sinclair. – Tandy Thomas

Fusion Strategy

Fusion Strategy

How Real-Time Data and AI Will Power the Industrial Future

by Vijay Govindarajan and Venkat Venkatraman

Recommended by: Murray Lei, Distinguished Research Fellow of Management Analytics

In Fusion Strategy, two innovation and strategy experts introduce a ground-breaking framework for leveraging analytics and AI to transform companies that design and manufacture physical products. This book is essential for understanding the societal impact of these technologies. It highlights traditional industries that are often overshadowed by big tech in digital transformation. Authors Vijay Govindarajan and Venkat Venkatraman demonstrate how companies in these industries can harness data to enhance efficiency, safety and productivity. They use many real-world examples to illustrate practical strategies for combining product creation with actionable insights derived from real-time data. – Murray Lei

The 6 Phase Meditation Method

The 6 Phase Meditation Method

The Proven Technique to Supercharge Your Mind, Manifest Your Goals, and Make Magic in Minutes a Day

by Vishen Lakhiani

Recommended by: Jon Aikman, Adjunct Lecturer of Finance

The 6 Phase Meditation Method is an extremely interesting book that lays out the science and benefits of meditation in an accessible way. Author Vishen Lakhiani is a motivational speaker, entrepreneur and the CEO of MindValley. His first two books — The Code of the Extraordinary Mind and The Buddha and the Badass — were both New York Times bestsellers. With this book, Lakhiani provides a useful and practical guide to implementing meditation to make you more successful in business, athletics, careers and relationships. It’s written in a user-friendly format, which makes its lessons easy to apply, and it can be accessed as an audiobook too, in case you’d rather listen than read. I highly recommend this book as it could change your life and decision-making for the better. – Jon Aikman

Talking to Strangers

Talking to Strangers

What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know

by Malcolm Gladwell

Recommended by: Valerie Bartlett, Adjunct Lecturer and Team Performance Coach

Have you ever met someone new and made an assumption about them that turned out to be wrong? Were you confident that you were right? Have you wondered why you were so wrong? More importantly, have you found a way to change this behaviour? In Talking to Strangers, bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell delves into the complexities of human communication and the often-misleading nature of our interactions with strangers. Gladwell explores how we misinterpret and misunderstand others, which often leads to significant consequences including major societal problems. He doesn’t shy away from tackling contemporary issues in an approachable, storytelling way. He highlights our need to challenge our assumptions and he provides practical applications for improving communication in both our personal and professional lives. By understanding the common pitfalls in interpreting others, we can communicate more effectively and with empathy. Who doesn’t want or need that in 2024? – Valerie Bartlett

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