The MBA is one of the most sought-after degrees in the world. Graduates who complete an MBA may expect to work in various sectors, including finance, marketing, and human resources. Skills like empathy and team management are in high demand, as is the ability to plan forward, define strategic objectives, and work with people from diverse backgrounds.  

When applying for an MBA program, you want to be prepared to succeed in the application process and develop your critical thinking abilities. This is when the books on your MBA reading list come in handy. From classics to the latest releases, we have laid down the books you need to add to your MBA reading list, also frequently mentioned by top CEOs from around the world.

13 Must-Read MBA Books Before and During Your MBA Program

Here is the ultimate MBA Reading list for those who don't want to settle for anything less than the best:

1. The Lean Start-Up | Eric Ries | Goodreads: 4.10

The vast majority of new businesses fail. Most of these failures are avoidable. There is a worldwide trend toward adopting the Lean Start-up method of doing business. It's altering the way businesses are formed, and new products or services are introduced as a result. In this best-selling book, Eric Ries takes a scientific approach to establish and manage successful startups in an era when businesses must drive innovation more than ever.

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2. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike | Phil Knight | Goodreads: 4.46

Going straight out of business school, Phil Knight borrowed $50 from his dad to start a firm that would import Japanese running shoes of good quality but at a reasonable cost.  Shoe Dog was an immediate New York Times best-seller providing a rare and intriguing insight into the media-shy man behind the swoosh. Bill Gates described Shoe Dog as a "great narrative, a refreshingly honest reminder of what the route to commercial success really looks like''. There will be many blunders, many hardships, and many sacrifices along the way, but it will be worth it in the end.

3. How to Win Friends and Influence People | Dale Carnegie | Goodreads: 4.50  

Dale Carnegie's lessons have had a great impact on the lives of millions of individuals throughout the globe. For those wanting to break out of their mental blocks, he provides practical and effective advice and strategies in his enthusiastic and conversational manner in How to Win Friends and Influence People. This book will compel you to strengthen your relationships with everyone in your life, including your family and friends.

4. The Intelligent Investor |Benjamin Graham | Goodreads: 4.22

Benjamin Graham, the greatest investing counselor of the 20th century, was a teacher and an inspiration to millions of people. Since its first publication, Graham's "value investing" concept protects investors from considerable mistakes and trains them about long-term strategy. It has made The Intelligent Investor the stock market holy book. To achieve your financial objectives, The Intelligent Investor is a must-read.

5. Zero To One | Peter Thiel | Goodreads: 4.32 

The next Steve Jobs will not create an operating system. The next Larry Page will not create a search engine. The great mystery of our time is that fresh frontiers and technologies are still waiting to be discovered. Thiel's book Zero to One is a guide on how we might develop innovative methods to build exciting future-proof technologies. Progress in information technology has been fast, but there is no reason that it should be restricted to computers or Silicon Valley. All industries and businesses have the potential to grow.

6. Outliers: The Story of Success | Malcolm Gladwell | Goodreads: 4.17

Why do some individuals succeed while others fail? From entertainers to pro athletes to business visionaries, Malcolm Gladwell examines a wide range of people in this book to prove that the tale of success is much more unexpected and exciting than we could ever have anticipated. The book Outliers will alter your perspective on your own life narrative and the factors that contribute to your individuality.

7. Thinking, Fast and Slow | Daniel Kahneman | Goodreads: 4.16

Why do judges refuse parole more often before lunch? Why do we expect that someone attractive would be more skillful? In this best-selling book, the Nobel Memorial Prize winner Daniel Kahneman demonstrates how our thoughts are tripped up by inaccuracy and bias (even when we believe we are being rational) and provides you with practical ways to slow down and think more clearly. 

8. Alibaba's World | Porter Erisman | Goodreads: 3.90

In September 2014, a Chinese firm that most people had never heard of launched the world's biggest initial public offering (IPO) — larger than Alphabet’s Google, Twitter & Facebook combined. Porter Erisman details how Jack Ma, a Chinese schoolteacher who failed his college admission exams twice, climbed from obscurity to build Alibaba and grow it from a faltering startup to the world's most powerful e-commerce business.

9. 1984 | George Orwell | Goodreads: 4.19  

"1984," is a groundbreaking dystopian book by George Orwell that depicts a continual danger of monitoring and censorship, not only invading the mind of the society but also giving birth to terms and notions, like "Big Brother," "Thought Police," "Room 101." For years, the novel's influence has been undeniable, and its proclamations have become more powerful as time has passed.

10. Man's Search For Meaning | Viktor E. Frankl | Goodreads: 4.35

Viktor Frankl's memoir, Man's Search for Meaning, is one of the Holocaust's best-known masterpieces and one of the best pieces ever written. We may draw inspiration from our tragedies from this moving testament to optimism. It had sold more than 10 million copies and been reproduced into 24 languages before the author's death in 1997.

11. The Personal MBA | Josh Kaufman | Goodreads: 4.09 

True leaders aren't created in business schools; instead, they are self-made by pursuing the education, training, and encounters necessary to succeed. Over the last decade, at least a million people have benefited from Josh Kaufman's The Personal MBA, a potent alternative to the traditional MBA. When starting your own business, you'll get all you need to know in one complete book from him.

12. The AI Marketing Canvas | Jim Lecinski and Raj Venkatesan | GoodReads: 4.00 

It's no secret that AI is a hot-button subject in marketing. Even if your company is just getting started, the AI Marketing Canvas provides a step-by-step guide for laying out a strategy that will help you achieve your goals. This book is a wake-up call for the industry's most powerful executives when it comes to marketing.

13. Predictably Irrational Author | Dan Ariely | GoodReads: 4.11

In what manner may a person's illogical behavior be predicted? Dan Ariely debunks the widely held belief that humans act rationally at all times. We constantly overspend, underestimate, and postpone when it comes to anything from purchasing a vehicle to finding a personal companion. However, these incorrect actions are neither random nor irrational in any way. They're predictable and methodical. In his book, Predictably Irrational, the author explains the notion in detail.

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About the Author

Nikita DuggalNikita Duggal

Nikita Duggal is a passionate digital nomad with a major in English language and literature, a word connoisseur who loves writing about raging technologies, digital marketing, and career conundrums.

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