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Best Summer Reads for Business Students 

Summer is the perfect time of year for camp fires, picnics on the beach, and for diving headlong into a new book. Instead of pulling a beachy romance novel off the shelf, opt for one that’ll set you up for success in the school year ahead—especially if you plan to pursue a degree in business. Many business books can help you hone your communication, critical thinking, and leadership skills before you even step foot into your first class. 

Not sure which ones to add to your reading list this summer? We’ve got you covered. In this article, we review our selections for the ten of the best books for business students. 

#1 How to Win Friends and Influence People

If you’ve got your sights set on stepping into a leadership role someday, How to Win Friends and Influence People is a must-read book. In it, bestselling author Dale Carnegie discusses the secrets behind successful business people. He bases his recommendations on his biographical studies of influential world leaders.

Since 1936, this self-help book has sold millions of copies due to its powerful impact. It discusses how to:

  • Manage people effectively
  • Build strong interpersonal relationships
  • Influence others to think the way you do
  • Avoid offending people or arousing resentment

The timeless advice contained in this book has helped many people reach their potential as leaders. It’s a host of valuable tips for succeeding as a business student and beyond. 

#2 The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

f you want to learn how to be an effective professional in the business world, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a book you won’t want to miss this summer. It can teach you how to solve problems productively in your personal and professional life. 

Written by Stephen Covey, this book discusses how to:

  • Be more proactive
  • Understand others’ perspectives
  • Work with others effectively
  • Create win/win scenarios
  • Upgrade your beliefs and behaviors
  • Continuously improve yourself through self-mastery

CEOs, politicians, and leaders of all kinds have tapped into the ingenuity of this business book to enhance their lives. It’s an ideal book to have under your belt before attending business school. 

#3 The Essays of Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett is a famous billionaire investor.1The Essays of Warren Buffett is a collection of his letters to investors at Berkshire Hathaway. In these letters, he expresses his view of the market and his opinions on optimal investment strategies. He also relays the key principles of business analysis. 

Buffett’s primary advice is to evaluate businesses for lasting profitability rather than chasing the market. He also recommends focusing on long-term investments when constructing financial portfolios. 

Whether you want to run a public business or improve your personal investing strategy, this book contains relevant advice that may help you hone your financial skills.

#4 The Wealth of Nations

Written in 1776 by Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations is a classic economics book that explores how countries build wealth and power. It breaks down how economies function and lays out an argument for the importance of free markets and small government. 

This book analyzes a few key economic factors, such as:

  • Productivity
  • Banking
  • Monetary policy
  • Taxes
  • Market pricing
  • Division of labor
  • History
  • Free trade
  • Property rights
  • Government debt
  • Currency devaluation

Whether you’re interested in finance or international trade policy, this book is worth picking up this summer.

#5 Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

Being a woman in business can often come with its own unique set of challenges. If you want to succeed in the workplace as a woman, Facebook’s CEO Sheryl Sandberg has some worthwhile insight.2 As a trailblazing business woman herself, she knows what it takes to maneuver the corporate world with confidence. 

In Lean In, Sandberg uses social experiments and her own experiences to analyze the gap in leadership goals between men and women. She also dismantles the pervasive myth of “having it all” that puts undue pressure on so many working women. Most importantly, she provides practical tips for women who want to pursue leadership positions, including ways to:

  • Give and take criticism
  • Negotiate
  • Take risks
  • Forge a fulfilling career

Her advice can help you get into the mindset of a successful business woman before you even finish earning your degree. 

#6 The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine

The Big Short is a fascinating non-fiction read that covers the 2007 financial crisis. Written by Michael Lewis, a Wall Street bond trader and finance author, this page-turning book reads just like your favorite fiction novel thanks to its compelling, character-driven storyline. 

Lewis breaks down what led up to the financial crash, focusing on the real estate bubble and the credit default swap market. He also exposes the problematic practices that were often seen on Wall Street during this time. Throughout the book, Lewis masterfully explains complex financial subjects in simple terms, making it an informative yet approachable read if you’re new to finance. 

Bring this hard-to-put-down book along on one of your summer adventures for a fast-paced, poolside read. If you're interested in finance, business law, or banking, you’ll find it equally insightful and entertaining.

#7 The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

Do you have dreams of becoming a successful entrepreneur? If so, The Lean Startup is a valuable read to help you get started on the right foot. In this book, Eric Ries lays out the keys to setting up a successful startup with streamlined capital. His advice is based on his very own entrepreneurial experiences. 

Ries highlights the importance of using capital and human creativity more efficiently. He also explains how working backwards from your desired results can help you construct more effective business plans. Most notably, he shares his “Five Why” process for pinpointing issues in a business and pivoting your strategy according to customer feedback. 

The Lean Startup can help you understand how new companies can be agile and successful in a competitive, ever-evolving business landscape. This information can serve you well during your studies, especially if you come up with an exciting startup idea along the way. 

#8 The Four-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich

Even if you love what you do, working 40 hours a week or more can be grueling at times. As a result, many people desire an alternative to the traditional nine-to-five career path. 

In The Four-Hour Workweek, Timothy Ferriss offers strategies to create financial security without putting in hours of exhausting work each week. He promotes working smarter, as opposed to working harder. Some of his suggestions include:

  • Defining your goals clearly
  • Getting rid of unnecessary activities
  • Employing virtual assistants to automate aspects of your work

With the help of this book’s case studies and practical tips, you can craft your future career path with intention. In turn, you may be able to earn a comfortable living while enjoying more time doing the things you love. 

#9 The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done

Peter F. Drucker is an influential businessman and author of The Effective Executive. In this book, he discusses the strategies used by successful leaders in modern corporations and breaks down the philosophies behind each one. 

His insight can help aspiring business professionals hone their leadership abilities and enhance their effectiveness. Some of the skills he promotes include:

  • Clear communication
  • Time management
  • Data-based decision making
  • Setting the right priorities
  • Utilizing strengths effectively

This timeless leadership book can help you understand how to get the right things done and spend less time on unproductive activities. With fewer than 200 pages, it’s also a short read—perfect for a lazy summer day on the patio. 

#10 Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t 

Do you ever wonder what sets exceptional companies apart in terms of their long-term success? In Good to Great, Jim Collins relays his extensive research on 1,500 elite companies that managed to sustain outstanding financial performance for a minimum of fifteen years. 

His research explains why these companies become great, while others fail to make the leap. He boils down the reasons behind their success into six key characteristics. This book can help you understand what businesses like Coca-Cola and General Electric have over their less successful counterparts. In turn, it can teach you how to transform a struggling business into a lasting success. 

This book is the perfect read for business students, aspiring entrepreneurs, business consultants, and anyone interested in business management.

Earn Your Business Degree From Alliant International University

With a few of these best books for business on your summer reading list, you can start fine-tuning your business savvy and get a head start on your education. 

As you read these books, you may also be inspired to broaden your opportunities by pursuing an enriching degree in business. If so, Alliant International University is a great place to start. 

Our San Diego-based business school offers many different business programs, including:

  • Business Administration
  • Information Systems Technology 
  • Data Analytics
  • Healthcare Analytics
  • Leadership
  • Hospitality Management

Whether you want to obtain a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree, you can participate in your desired program in person or online. Discover how Alliant International University can support you on your business journey today.


  1. “Warren Buffett.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, February 1, 2022. Accessed February 1, 2022.
  2. “Sheryl Sandberg.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, February 1, 2022. Accessed February 1, 2022.

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