Read to be happy | London Business School


It’s been a long year … here are eight good reads to clear your mind during the holiday season.

Ageless: the new science for aging without aging by Andrew Steele

False story: ten big lies and how they shaped the world by Otto English

Recommended by: Costas Markides, Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship

Is it inevitable that as we age our body and mind will start to deteriorate? This is something that biologists have been studying for years. In Ageless, Andrew Steele explores cutting-edge research on all aspects of aging – DNA, stem cells, our immune system – and offers practical advice on living longer! It’s very well documented, and what could be more uplifting in these dark days of Covid? And for those interested in how the story is or can be manipulated, I recommend False story by Otto English. It will make you question everything you thought you knew!

Nothing to envy: real lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick

Recommended by: Selin Kesebir, Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior

Of all the books I read this year, this is the one that touched me the most. Based on in-depth interviews, the author tells the stories of several North Koreans, who all manage to escape the country. The stories are very human and the book has the resonance of a good novel. But they also describe North Korea as a true dystopia with depths of political brainwashing and material deprivation that I never imagined possible. Reading about them made me realize how indebted for my dignity to the social systems that provide food, electricity, medicine, freedom – things these North Koreans could not take for granted. acquired. Despite the heartbreaking nature of some of the content, the book itself is a page turner. If you would like to learn about an enigmatic country, imagine how your life would have been differently had you been born elsewhere in this world, please consider this book.

Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe

Recommended by: Herminia Ibarra, Organizational Behavior Professor

Empire of Pain is several stories in one story. On the one hand, it’s a story of greed and crazy incentives, leading managers to do everything they can to sell more oxycontin. It’s also a family saga in which the Patriarch created the playbook to promote dangerous drugs – in its early days, Valium – with impunity. And very importantly, it’s also a story of failed government oversight and accountability, a story that repeats itself over and over again, with tobacco, with guns, now we see oil companies being called in. to be accountable on what they knew about their industry and when it impacted climate change. At the end of the day, then, it’s a story about something essential that we need to fix.

The Game of Ends: How Smart Businesses Stop Selling Products and Start Delivering Value by Marco Bertini and Oded Koenigsberg

Klara and the sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

Recommended by: Dafna Goor, Assistant Professor of Marketing

An excellent book for readers looking for marketing training, The game of endings – by LBS Professor Oded Koenigsberg and co-author Marco Bertini – discusses how businesses can be successful by selling the “ends” (actual value or results) rather than the “means” (the products). The book provides interesting examples of real businesses and their revenue models. And these holidays I intend to read Ishiguro’s Klara and the sun, which examines the concepts of loneliness and love in a futuristic era of AI and gene editing.

Watching English: The Hidden Rules of English Behavior by Kate Fox

Recommended by: Aharon Cohen Mohliver, Assistant Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship

I just read / alternately listened to Kate Fox’s updated edition of Watch English, and I found it very informative and entertaining. After reading this book, I finally understood the microcosm of the English pub (and how I broke almost all local cultural taboos). Anthropology at its best gives you ideas to understand and tools to adapt to local cultures. This one comes in fun, lightweight packaging, with all the right science tools used in the right way. In my field (strategy and entrepreneurship) we call it “relevant and rigorous”. Regarding this book, I would add: “a refreshing pleasure”.

Net Positive: How Courageous Businesses Thrive By Giving More Than They Take by Paul Polman and Andrew Winston

Recommended by: Julian Birkinshaw, Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship

There are many books today that talk about the need to build sustainable businesses. This one is different because it is written by someone who actually did it. Unilever, under Polman’s leadership, has become the most admired large corporation for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It is an inspiring read, because it reminds us that, whatever the institutional and bureaucratic obstacles, fundamental change is possible!

And if you just want to relax and watch something, try one …

The founder

Recommended by: Gary Dushnitsky, Associate Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship

You may not have heard Ray Kroc’s name, but I’m sure you’ve heard of the business empire he built: McDonald’s. This is an engaging drama that tells the story of a traveling salesperson who spotted an opportunity and diligently pursued it to build the global fast food chain we all know today. On some level, this makes for a nice lazy afternoon watch, probably with a side of fries. On another level, it will get any budding entrepreneur to see in a new light the importance of the initial idea, what makes someone a ‘founder’ and what the dynamics of the business look like most often looks like. team of co-founders.

Tear along the dotted line

Recommended by: Simona Botti, Professor of Marketing

I found this animated series from Zerocalcare really interesting to watch. It tells the story of a designer in Rome, reflecting on the path he has taken in life with the help of an imaginary armadillo which acts as his conscience. As he and his friends travel out of town, he reflects on various formative memories, from being a teacher’s pet to counseling a teenage girlfriend; from the perils of tutoring children to his initial difficulties in looking for work. Funny and touching and a refreshing change.

wake up sleeping beauty by Don Hahn
Recommended by: Pier Vittorio Mannucci, Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior

This is a living tale of the years of the so-called Disney Renaissance, when Disney Animation went from being seen as a dying branch to once again becoming Disney’s artistic and lucrative excellence. It’s a story of creativity, endurance and teamwork that proves how a business can turn its culture upside down and regain the magic that seemed lost.


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