The must read list for your MBA

From a studying perspective, the more widely read you are, the more possible sources of information and references you will have. But the reason to read is bigger than just better marks or an easier time finding references.

Reading is one of the ways you can level-up. By level-up, I mean, improve yourself, to be and contribute more. Think and grow.

Are you reading something currently? There are so many books that finding the right one to start reading can be hard. So if you’re currently without a read, don’t worry here’s my reading list. I’m sure you’ll find something worth your time.

1. The Startup Owners Manual – Steve Blank and Bob Dorf

The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-By-Step Guide for Building a Great Company

In the startup world, Ries’ Lean Startup book (see below) gets all the attention. But it falls a little short at providing real, practical advise on how to do the things in a lean startup way. This book is completely different. If you think of the old workshop manuals for your car, this is the startup equivalent of that. Like a car mechanics manual, it is not really meant to be read start to end, rather. jump straight to what you are working on. I absolutely recommend it.

2. Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson

Steve Jobs

This book is simply, one of the best books I have ever read. And that is despite its flaws. Read it. A great insight into Steve, Silicon Valley and business generally. Even if you’re not in the Apple camp, get it.

3. The Lean Startup – Eric Ries

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

If you haven’t yet read this book, you should. It’s not so much great in its content, more great because of the lens it gives you to view (re-view) the business world around you. It’s almost a religious movement in the States. More of a MBA book than the Startup Owners Manual – challenges the way you think about innovation. I like practical assistance though, which is why this is at position 3.

4. Like A Virgin – Richard Branson

Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won’t Teach You at Business School

Virgin market this one as one-book-business-school, the Branson way. It’s pretty good, and easy to read, much like a series of blog posts actually. He covers a really wide range of topics, and is an interesting insight on the man, and the brand, that is Virgin. If you are studying or wanting to reflect on Managing Contemporary Organisations (MCO) theory, he’s a good example of championing employee engagement and creativity.

5. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Globally a huge hit since its release in 1989, this book is about authentic leadership. Achieving what you want by focusing inward first. The book shows its age, but it is one of those books that all MBA students & graduates should read. Leaders from generations above you will quote Covey, so it’s useful to have done a little homework on him.

6. What would Google Do? – Jeff Jarvis

What Would Google Do?: Reverse-Engineering the Fastest Growing Company in the History of the World

Thinking about the world in terms of data is one of the many ways google is different. Whilst this book is a few years old now (at least, in Silicon years) I have found it interesting as it helps give you another lens to look at the world, and perhaps see opportunity in areas you might have overlooked before.

7. Business Stripped Bare – Richard Branson

Business Stripped Bare: Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur

Branson’s books are generally easy reads, and this one is no exception. Unfortunately some of the things mentioned in this book, are the same as I’ve read in his other books which feels a bit like the author cheating. Anyway, still a great read.

8. Thinking Hats – Edward De Bono

Six Thinking Hats

I picked this one up in anticipation of a few business flights, and it’s been surprisingly good. How do you legitimise an emotional response to a situation? Or maybe an intuitive thought that a business approach is wrong? The traditional approach to decision making pays little heed to these valuable responses, and the De Bono method is an attempt to correct that, amongst other things.

9. Enders Game – Orson Scott Card

Ender’s Game (Ender, Book 1)

I know, this one is not a business book. But it is a great read, and there is a movie coming out soon so I wanted to freshen up on it. One of my most favourite books of all time. A simple, yet complex scifi that is easy to digest yet very compelling. If you haven’t read it. READ IT!

What’s next on my list?

Well, I’ve probably got too many on my list at the moment, but when a few drop off, these two will be next:


The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Expanded and Updated)


How To Win Friends and Influence People

Andy Forbes is an MBA student at University of Adelaide and the IT Manager at Cavendish Superannuation. Andy is also the author of the blog and contributes to the Adelaide University MBA blog on general business issues and his MBA study.

Ben Ready
Ben Ready founded MBA News in 2014 and is the Managing Editor. He is a former business and finance journalist with Australian Associated Press (AAP) and Dow Jones Newswires in London. Ben completed his MBA in 2012 and was awarded the QUT GMAA Entrepreneurship Prize. He is also the founder and Managing Director of RGC Media & Mktng (