6 Must Read Books Before MBA

For an MBA aspirant, who is about to join their B-school in June 2018, there are still 2 months to go. While you should set your things in order before you leave for B-school, you can also utilize this time to read some good books that can give you a better perspective of Management.

The books which I am going to write down below are the ones I have read during my B-school time and found them very informative. I’m also writing down the short summary and key takeaways:

  • Snapshots from Hell: The Making of an MBA:

This is a book by Stanford MBA graduate Peter Robinson, who happened to be the speechwriter of former U.S. President Ronald Regan. He is an undergraduate in Arts. He tells about his difficulties that he faced in the year 1 of his M.B.A. Right from the preparatory class before the MBA for non-math students to the complex networking strategies; It’s a fun book to read. As you are about to begin your B-school, you might get somewhat scared but towards the end of the book, you would realise that you can survive and thrive with hard work and proper strategy. During this book, you would realise that MBA is very eventful and time just flies.

  • Zero to One:

Ace investor Peter Thiel wrote this book. It’s a compilation of his course on entrepreneurship at Stanford. The central idea of the book is “If you want to invest an electric bulb, you can’t do it by improvising the candles step-by-step”. This book goes on to examine the business model followed by many startups. For the first time, you would read about blue ocean strategy in this book; How can you nullify the competition by creating something that is unique. He talks about creating monopoly like Google, such companies have ample bandwidth for experimenting and innovating. This book would come in very handy during classes where start-ups and newer business models are being discussed.

  • Good to Great: 

Why have some companies like IBM weathered every change, whereas some companies like Blackberry who were the dominant force at one time are nowhere today? Why some companies who were present in Fortune 500 list of 1970 are still there on the list whereas the majority of the companies have been replaced.

Jim Collins, the writer of the book has done a great deal of research for this book. If you read the monologue at the start, you would realise the mammoth task that his team undertook. Let’s take an example: If a company is doing badly, sales are falling and attrition is high; What do you think is the solution? Most of the times, people would say; Hire an outside CEO who has the track record of success. But this approach has failed most of the times after showing initial signs of success. In the longer run, promoting people from inside the organization has worked well. This book is a perfect read for great human resource practices, maverick business strategies, personal humility. The author explains everything with the instances from a real company and real people. This book again would come very handy during various case discussions.

  • How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie:

You may think this as an unlikely book to refer to an MBA grad, I thought the same. But when I read this book, it seemed very much practical to me, easy to apply learnings. This book recommends some very easy ways to reduce your stress and be happy. How we should never carry our past into our future and how we should not worry too much about the future. This book is totally about living in the present in order to make future bright. MBA life has lots of stress, extreme emotions sometimes, this book might help you in controlling them.

  • The Art of Thinking Clearly:

This book’s central idea is “If 50 million people say something foolish, it is still foolish.” This is not a leadership or motivational book. It is highly scientific in nature. This book uncovers various biases of our thinking and bends us towards a more rational way. For example, One chapter in this book states that you should never pay your lawyer by the hour; Because your lawyer would then try to extend the case in hope for getting paid more.

Similarly, there are factors like alternate bias; Whenever someone thinks of an offer, they weigh it against alternatives. But this isn’t always the right thing to do, one must get out of their mental limits in order to make the right decision. The more alternatives you have, the more confused you get.

By reading this book, it’s not that you won’t make mistake again but you would certainly question yourself more while making decisions and you would do that on right parameters. I would highly recommend this before starting with your MBA.

  • For God’s Sake by Ambi Parmeshwaran:

Ambi Parmeshwaran is a leading ad-guru, who has created many award-winning ads (Google to know about them). In this book, he tries to explain Indian consumer behaviour in a very interesting way by connecting them with religious beliefs. The book has a very interesting chapter where he says that MBA in India is not only a way to get good jobs but to get a higher stature in marriage as well, and he explains it in a very interesting way. He talks about various myths and beliefs of our society, and how various advertisers are milking them. This book is not only for Marketing students but for everyone who wants to understand consumer behaviour of Indians (Which you won’t get in books written by foreign authors).

( For some interesting and exciting stories authored by B-schooler students and alumni, read InsideIIM-Konversation’sBadey Badey Campuses Ki Chhoti Chhoti Stories )

Sachin Mandot

Sachin Mandot is an IMT-G Alum (Batch of 2018). With an aim to help MBA aspirants, he has been writing on InsideIIM platform since March 2017.



Shashank Shanu

Hello guys,
I am a Civil engineering graduate and having 1 year 2 months of work experience.This year I m going to write cat 2018 so what should be mine preparation plan??

Srijan Shetty

You need to start working on your basics, understand your strengths and weaknesses. At the same time it is important to take maximum number of mocks. Daily read of newspaper (editorial section) is recommended while InsideIIM’s news burger is brilliant especially for working aspirants.
All the best