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Book Reading list

I by IMD Book Club

Books to inspire, inform and entertain 

Published 1 July 2022 in I by IMD Book Club • 7 min read

From dealing with burnout and bullsh*t to the joys of friendship and climbing mountains, IMD professors offer a varied choice of summer reading material 

Greetings from Utopia Park: Surviving a Transcendent Childhood

by Claire Hoffman 

About the book: 

“In this engrossing, provocative, and intimate memoir, a young journalist reflects on her childhood in the heartland, growing up in an increasingly isolated meditation community in the 1980s and ’90s—a fascinating, disturbing look at a fringe culture and its true believers.” 

Why we like it: 

“As someone from (1) an Indian background and (2) interested in mindfulness meditation and how this practice is being shaped in the modern world, Claire Hoffman’s book provides a fascinating insight into how the business of spiritualism defines the lives and livelihood of people that come within the ambit of a certain school of practice.” 

Anand Narasimhan, Shell Professor of Global Leadership 

The Campus Trilogy: Changing Places 

by David Lodge 

About the book: 

“When Philip Swallow and Professor Morris Zapp participate in their universities’ Anglo-American exchange scheme, the Fates play a hand, and each academic finds himself enmeshed in the life of his counterpart on the opposite side of the Atlantic.” 

Why we like it: 

“Anyone intrigued by differences between American and British academic institutions will find this an amusing and accurate send-up. David Lodge, portraying two American and British professors who replace one another at their respective institutions, gives greed, pettiness, and pretense full rein.” 

Stefan Michel, Professor of Marketing and Strategy 

Calling Bullshit: the Art of Skepticism in a Data-Driven World 

by Carl T. Bergstrom and Jevin D. West 

About the book: 

“We have always needed people who call bullshit when necessary, whether within a circle of friends, a community of scholars, or the citizenry of a nation. Now that bullshit has evolved, we need to relearn the art of skepticism.” 

Why we like it: 

“On a daily basis we are inundated with reports, news flashes, or advertisements providing us with allegedly important information based on data. This book provides a highly instructive and often entertaining discussion on how to consume such information with a healthy dose of skepticism. It contains many eye-opening examples of “bullshit”, that is of misinformation, disinformation, and fake news. Reading this proves that talking about statistics can be fun.” 

Karl Schmedders, Professor of Finance 


You’re Too Good to Feel this Bad: an Orthodox Approach to Living an Unorthodox Life  

by Dr Nate Dallas 

About the book: 

“In this autobiographical guide, Dr Nate Dallas shares his eye-opening personal experiment to escape the cultural epidemic of anxiety and entrapment that ensnares so many highly productive people. In his unabashed, down-to-earth style, he presents an entertaining and enlightening journey, challenging you to break away from cultural norms and live the contrarian life you know you deserve.” 

Why we like it: 

“This book is for anyone who feels, or has felt, overwhelmed by life’s demands and stresses. It provides concrete steps to get more control over and joy out of life. Each chapter, be it about breathing, sleeping, play or love, provides concrete steps you can take to gain a bit more control and joy. I recommend that you begin by reading a chapter and then trying to practice what the author suggests.” 

Robert Hooijberg, Professor of Organizational Behavior

Less is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World  

by Jason Hickel 

About the book: 

“A groundbreaking exploration of the best possible solution to the climate crisis: a new economic model, and a new way of viewing our relationship with the natural world.” 

Why we like it: 

“How can we not only survive but continue to ‘play to thrive’ as a species? Hickel’s accessible and enlightening book is a wake-up call to act to change the system that is the cause of our rapidly advancing ecological breakdown. Amidst the challenges, Hickel shares a message of hope as to how we can shift from an ego to an eco-mindset to co-create a sustainable future for all.” 

Susan Goldsworthy, Affiliate Professor of Leadership, Communications and Organizational Change

The Burnout Epidemic: The Rise of Chronic Stress and How We Can Fix It  

 by Jennifer Moss 

About the book: 

“As the pandemic has shown, self-care is not the cure for our problems. We need to do more. With the help of fascinating research, new findings from the pandemic, along with interviews with leaders around the globe, readers will find insightful and actionable advice in this book and will feel empowered to help themselves and their employees feel healthier and happier.” 

Why we like it: 

“The workforce is exhausted. You might know someone on burnout leave, or you might be there yourself. This book takes us through the foundations and effects of burnout, what contributes to it, and the strategies needed to help organizations and individuals better prevent it.” 

Alyson Meister, Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior 

The Magician: a novel  

by Colm Tóibím 

About the book: 

“The Magician is an intimate portrait of Mann, his magnificent wife, Katia, and the times in which they lived — the First World War, the rise of Hitler, the Second World War, the Cold War and exile. This is a man and a family fiercely engaged by the world, profoundly flawed and unforgettable.” 

Why we like it: 

“This fictitious, well-researched biography of Thomas Mann, starting in Lübeck in 1891 to his death in 1950, tells the story about his hidden yearnings and feelings. This alone provides an impressive context to his novels. More importantly to me, the book reveals chilling parallels to today’s geopolitical tensions. Mann’s failure of imagination of what life had in store for the entire world struck me. And then his courageous pivot, speaking up against Nazi Germany, was truly inspirational.” 

Katharina Lange, Affiliate Professor of Leadership 

The Laws of Human Nature 

 by Robert Greene 

About the book: 

“Drawing from the ideas and examples of Pericles, Queen Elizabeth I, Martin Luther King Jr, and many others, Greene teaches us how to detach ourselves from our own emotions and master self-control, how to develop the empathy that leads to insight, how to look behind people’s masks, and how to resist conformity to develop your singular sense of purpose. Whether at work, in relationships, or in shaping the world around you, The Laws of Human Nature offers brilliant tactics for success, self-improvement, and self-defense.” 

Why we like it: 

“Robert Greene takes us through a well-composed tour through human nature. Understanding and revealing people’s drives and motivations, even when they are themselves unconscious of them, is part of what we do here at IMD. The book comes with a wealth of stories that offer fine narratives and new perspectives. It also offers a good opportunity for self-reflection.” 

Katharina Lange, Affiliate Professor of Leadership 

The Eight Mountains: a novel  

by Paolo Cognetti 

About the book: 

“While on vacation at the foot of the Aosta Valley, Pietro meets Bruno, an adventurous, spirited local boy. Together they spend many summers exploring the mountains’ meadows and peaks and discover the similarities and differences in their lives, their backgrounds, and their futures. The two boys come to find the true meaning of friendship and camaraderie, even as their divergent paths in life — Bruno’s in the mountains, Pietro’s across the world — test the strength and meaning of their connection.” 

Why we like it: 

“As a person who grew-up by the beach, I learned to appreciate the beauty and inspiration that mountains provide once I moved to Switzerland and started taking executives to them. This novel, written in arrestingly simple language, captures the joy and melancholy that comes from reaching summits in the Italian Alps and along the way provides us with profound contemplations on human themes such as friendship, parenting and love. These are the very issues I hear time and again when I work with executives on our CLEAR program and beyond.” 

Shlomo Ben-Hur, Professor of Leadership, Organization and Corporate Learning 

The power issue

From CXOs to Gen Z activists, our experts examine where the real sway lies. In Issue VII of I by IMD, we explore the shifting centers of command and how leaders can inspire, empower and wield influence for good.


Anand Narasimhan - IMD Professor

Anand Narasimhan

Anand Narasimhan serves as Shell Professor of Global Leadership and Dean of Faculty and Research at IMD. He is also Director of the Team Dynamics Training for Boards program. He is an expert in leadership development for senior executive teams and boards, and his research focuses on institutional change, organization design, social networks, and emotions in the workplace.

Stefan Michel

Stefan Michel

Professor of Marketing and Strategy, IMD

Professor Michel’s major research interests are in customer-focused marketing strategy, service innovation, and pricing. At IMD, he is the Dean of the Executive MBA program and the faculty representative at the IMD foundation board. He teaches in the Executive MBA, Strategic Marketing Program, the Foundation for Business Leadership Program, the MBA program, the Orchestrating Winning Performance program as well as in many partnership programs for world-leading companies.

Karl Schmedders - IMD Professor of Finance

Karl Schmedders

Professor of Finance at IMD

Karl Schmedders is Professor of Finance at IMD. In his research, he applies numerical solution techniques to complex economic and financial models, shedding light on relevant market issues and industry problems. He is also Director of IMD’s new online certification course for structured investment products in partnership with Swiss company Leonteq, teaches in the Advanced Management Concepts (AMC) and Executive MBA programs, and is an advisor on International Consulting Projects in the MBA program.

Robert Hooijberg

Professor of Organizational Behaviour at IMD

Robert Hooijberg is Professor of Organizational Behavior at IMD. His areas of special interest are leadership, negotiations, team building, digital transformation, and organizational culture. Before joining IMD in September 2000, Professor Hooijberg taught at Rutgers University in their MBA and Executive MBA programs in New Jersey, Singapore, and Beijing. He is Program Director of the Breakthrough Program for Senior Executives and the Negotiating for Value Creation course.

Susan Goldsworthy

Susan Goldsworthy

Affiliate Professor of Leadership, Communications and Organizational Change at IMD

Susan Goldsworthy OLY is an Affiliate Professor of Leadership, Communications and Organizational Change at IMD. Co-author of three award-winning books, she is also an Olympic swimmer. She is a highly qualified executive coach and is trained in numerous psychometric assessments. She is Director of the IMD Executive Coaching Certificate.

Alyson Meister - IMD Professor

Alyson Meister

Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior at IMD

Alyson Meister is Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior and Director of the Future Leaders program at IMD Business School. Specializing in the development of globally oriented, adaptive, and inclusive organizations, she has worked with of executives, teams, and organizations from professional services to industrial goods and technology. She also serves as co-chair of One Mind at Work’s Scientific Advisory Committee, with a focus on advancing mental health in the workplace. Follow her on Twitter: @alymeister.

Katharina Lange

Affiliate Professor of Leadership

Katharina Lange is Affiliate Professor of Leadership at IMD. She specializes in self-leadership and cross-cultural team leadership in times of change. Before joining IMD, Katharina led the Office of Executive Development at Singapore Management University (SMU, where she directed Open Programs such as ALPINE (Asia Leaders Program in Infrastructure) and the J&J Hospital Management Program. She is Co-Program Director of the Leading Customer – Centric Strategies and IMD’s signature Orchestrating Winning Performance (OWP) program.

Shlomo Ben-Hur

Shlomo Ben-Hur

Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior

Professor Shlomo Ben-Hur works on the psychological and cultural aspects of leadership, and the strategic and operational elements of talent management and corporate learning. He is the Director of IMD’s Changing Employee Behavior program and IMD’s Organizational Learning in Action, and author of the books Talent IntelligenceThe Business of Corporate Learning, Changing Employee Behavior: a Practical Guide for Managers and Leadership OS.


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