Summer Reading List 2020: Recommended Books For Your Break

One of the best things about summer vacation is finally having the time to devour those books that have been gradually accumulating on our shelves.

Whether you’re looking to escape reality with a can’t-put-this-down novel, fuel your motivation for personal growth, take a deep dive into current political ideologies or learn how to make the perfect holiday apéro, there’s something for you on our summer reading list. 

Loonshots – How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries, by Safi Bahcall (March, 2019)

Why do good teams kill great ideas?

Recommended by our own HEC Professor Olivier Sibony, Loonshots reveals a surprising new way of thinking about the mysteries of group behavior that challenges everything we thought we knew about nurturing radical breakthroughs.

Author Safi Bahcall, a physicist and entrepreneur, shows why teams, companies, or any group with a mission will suddenly change from embracing new ideas to rejecting them, just as flowing water will suddenly change into brittle ice. Using examples that range from the spread of fires in forests to the hunt for terrorists online, and stories of thieves and geniuses and kings, Bahcall shows how a new kind of science can help us become the initiators, rather than the victims, of innovative surprise.

“It is the best book I’ve read about innovation, how most organizations stifle it, and how to overcome the issues surrounding it.” Olivier Sibony – HEC Professor.

#1 Most Recommended Book of the year (Bloomberg annual survey of CEOs and entrepreneurs)
Best Business Book of the year – Amazon, Bloomberg, Financial Times, Forbes, Inc., Newsweek, Strategy + Business, Tech Crunch, Washington Post 

The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett (June, 2020)

One of the most talked about – and loved – books of 2020 so far, this New York Times-bestselling novel tells the story of twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white.

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passingLooking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

As with her New York Times-bestselling debut The Mothers, Brit Bennett offers an engrossing page-turner about family and relationships that is immersive and provocative, compassionate and wise.


The New Parisienne, by Lindsey Tramuta (July, 2020)

Keeping in the theme of all things Paris, The New Parisienne by Parisian-based American writer and blogger Linsday Tramuta focuses on one of the city’s most prominent features, its women. Lifting the veil on the mythologized Parisian woman—white, lithe, ever fashionable—Lindsey Tramuta demystifies this oversimplified archetype and recasts the women of Paris as they truly are, in all their complexity.

Featuring 50 activists, creators, educators, visionaries, and disruptors—like Leïla Slimani, Lauren Bastide, and Mayor Anne Hidalgo—the book reveals Paris as a blossoming cultural center of feminine power. Both the featured women and Tramuta herself offer up favorite destinations and women-owned businesses, including beloved shops, artistic venues, bistros, and more. The New Parisienne showcases “Parisianness” in all its multiplicity, highlighting those who are bucking tradition, making names for themselves, and transforming the city.

P.s – Her website Lost in Cheeseland is also one of the best Paris guides for when you have some down time in between your EMBA classes and modules.

Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own, by Eddie S. Glaude Jr. (June, 2020)

American playwright, essayist, poet, and activist James Baldwin grew disillusioned by the failure of the civil rights movement to force America to confront its lies about race, which impelled his move to Paris at the age of 24. In this New York Times bestseller, Eddie S. Glaude Jr., looks at how amidst a catastrophic Trump regime, the revival of Baldwin’s works and ideas have come to find a new relevance amidst the Black Lives Matter movement.

Baldwin asks how society can draw on the struggles of James Baldwin’s experiences in a moment when the Black Lives Matter crusade and the attempt to achieve a new America have been challenged by the election of Donald Trump. Mixing biography with history, memoir, and trenchant analysis of our current moment, Begin Again is Glaude’s endeavor, following Baldwin, to bear witness to the difficult truth of race in America today. An eloquently and devastatingly timely book which offers a new depth to the current political revolution we are witnessing and experiencing today.


Antifragile, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (January, 2014)

If you’re a fan of author, scholar and former risk analyst Nassim Nicholas Taleb then there is a good chance you have already read this book which is a standalone book in his landmark Incerto series. But, if you are yet to pick up this book (or even if you read it a few years back) there has never been a better time to dive deep into Antifragile.

The bestselling author of The Black Swan and one of the foremost thinkers of our time, reveals how to thrive in an uncertain world. Just as human bones get stronger when subjected to stress and tension, and rumors or riots intensify when someone tries to repress them, many things in life benefit from stress, disorder, volatility, and turmoil. What Taleb has identified and calls “antifragile” is that category of things that not only gain from chaos but need it in order to survive and flourish.

A bold book explaining how and why we should embrace uncertainty, randomness, and error . . . It may just change our lives.”—Newsweek


Drinking French, by David Lebovitz (March, 2020)

In this beautifully photographed book, bestselling cookbook author, memoirist, and popular blogger (one of the first ever food bloggers) David Lebovitz delves into the drinking culture of France in Drinking French. This mouth-watering collection features 160 recipes for everything from coffee, hot chocolate, and tea to Kir and regional apéritifs, classic and modern cocktails from the hottest Paris bars, and creative infusions using fresh fruit and French liqueurs.

And because the French can’t imagine drinking without having something to eat alongside, David includes crispy, salty snacks to serve with your concoctions. Each recipe is accompanied by David’s witty and informative stories about the ins and outs of life in France, as well as photographs taken on location in Paris and beyond. Whether you want to imagine you’re sitting en terrasse in a Paris café or continue to expand your confinement cooking repertoire, you’ll instantly be in vacation mode once you flip through these French-themed pages.

And we couldn’t overlook these two superb, recently published reads from our very own HEC Paris Professors:

You’re About to Make a Terrible Mistake! How Biases Distort Decision-Making and What You Can Do to Fight Them, by Olivier Sibony  (July, 2020)

Drawing on dozens of highly relevant–and often entertaining!–case studies, Professor Sibony’s book shows how biases continually lead us to make bad business decisions. To combat these pitfalls of cognitive bias, Professor Sibony proposes an effective decision-making architecture. He provides 40 simple, easy-to-implement techniques for business leaders to leverage the collective intelligence of its people and ultimately make the best decisions possible.

“A masterful introduction to the state of the art in managerial decision making. Surprisingly, it is also a pleasure to read.”- Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking, Fast and Slow

“Finally! Actionable advice for leaders based on decades of decision science. Succinct, accurate, and even-handed. I loved it!” – Angela Duckworth, bestselling author of Grit

Architects of Change: Designing Strategies for a Turbulent Business Environment, by Jeremy Ghez (September, 2019)

Professor Ghez leverages his deep understanding of economics and geopolitics to provide readers with the tools to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and build a strategy to predict and effectively respond to future business trends. The book teaches you how to grasp, leverage and harness the dynamics that shape tomorrow’s markets, and provides a roadmap for reinventing the way you do business.

Entertaining and well-written, the book is a must-read for anyone who wants “get beyond the buzz” and work for positive change.

“It is common to hear that we are living in turbulent times: ones of anger and extremism.  It is much less common to hear what to do about it.  This book helps decision-makers move beyond the noise, arguing that they can be transformative even as private citizens. It pulls you away from ‘business as usual’ and empowers you to become an agent of change with the strategic tools necessary for success.” – Greg Treverton, Former Chairman of the US National Intelligence Council