01 Jun 2011
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Downtime

Ever wonder what HBS professors read over the summer break? We put that question to several faculty members and got some interesting answers. Read on.

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Tom DeLong is the Philip J. Stomberg Professor of Management Practice in the Organizational Behavior and Entrepreneurial Management Units.

What’s on your list?

A biography of Raymond Carver and some of his short story collections. He captures both the high and the low side of the individual. Reading short stories helps me in writing cases. I also plan to read Freedom by Jonathan Franzen.

What format do you use for reading?

I’ll likely read Carver in hard copy and Franzen on my iPad. Hard copy has a unique feel to it that can’t be replicated by technology.

Do you have a “guilty pleasure” author?

James Michener. For some reason he captured my imagination years ago. Another guilty pleasure is Sports Illustrated.


Nancy Koehn is the James E. Robison Professor of Business Administration and a business historian.

What’s on your list?

The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus by the late Harvard minister Peter Gomes. Daniel Deronde, because there’s no limit to how George Eliot can deepen our sense of our own humanity. I’ll also finish C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, which is a set of ruminations about the obstacles in any thinking Christian’s path and how you either surmount them or succumb to them.

Memorable childhood books?

The Laura Ingalls Wilder series that begins with Little House in the Big Woods, for their vivid reconstruction of a world gone by and a child’s place in that world. Those books are the reason I became a historian.

What’s one of your favorite books?

Outside of Shakespeare’s plays and the King James Bible, I would say George Eliot’s Middlemarch. I’ve read it twenty times now.


Rohit Deshpandé is the Sebastian S. Kresge Professor of Marketing and a pioneer in research on customer-centric corporate cultures.

What’s on your list?

Between the Assassinations, Aravind Adiga…because I loved his Booker Prize–winning debut novel, The White Tiger. The Soul of Leadership, Deepak Chopra… because he spoke about it when I was interviewing him for a case on the branding of yoga. Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman, Yvon Chouinard… because the founder of Patagonia must have an interesting story to tell. Stop Me If You’ve Heard This: A History and Philosophy of Jokes, Jim Holt…because my son gave it to me.

Do you have a “guilty pleasure” author?

The Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho. There has to be a reason he’s the most-published living author — compelling story lines and an inventive interplay of religion, spirituality, magic, and romance.


Stefan Thomke is the William Barclay Harding Professor of Business Administration and an authority on the management of innovation.

What’s on your list?

Here’s part of one stack (next to my bed): The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuro-scientist’s Quest for What Makes Us Human by V.S. Ramachandran; The World Without Us by Alan Weisman; and Einstein’s Clocks, Poincaré’s Maps: Empires of Time by Peter Galison.

Do you use an electronic device for reading?

No, I like the tactile feedback from books, and they are easier on my eyes.

What’s one of your favorite books?

I really enjoyed Noah Gordon’s The Physician, a quest for medical knowledge in the 11th century; in biography, Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson; and, of course, Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, a novel I am planning to reread. A recent surprise for me was Houdini, His Life and Art...I couldn’t put it down. Houdini was just a relentless genius in so many ways.


Rakesh Khurana is the Marvin Bower Professor of Leadership Development.

What’s on your list?

I enjoy books that are about social context and how individuals are impacted by the world that surrounds them. The Fiery Trial, by Eric Foner, is a biography of Abraham Lincoln, who has been a hero of mine since I was a kid. Network Nation, by Richard John, describes the link between politics, government, and business in putting together a national and international telecommunications structure. Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart creates a dystopian future for the United States as a setting for an unrequited love. I enjoyed his debut novel, The Russian Debutante’s Handbook.

Do you have a “guilty pleasure” author?

I like fast-paced mystery books like the Stieg Larsson trilogy including The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

What’s one of your favorite books?

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. It is flawless. Parts of it take place in Queens, New York, where I grew up. Also, being in a university setting and surrounded by faculty and students, I can’t help but see the struggle between ambition, finding oneself, and the idea of reinventing oneself enacted each day.

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Zeynep Ton is an assistant professor in the Technology and Operations Management Unit.

What’s on your list?

My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk, a Nobel Prize– winning Turkish novelist. The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, because I loved the documentary film Food, Inc. and would like to learn more about where our food comes from. Better by Atul Gawande, because it’s about improvement in an industry I know relatively little about — health care.

Do you have a “guilty pleasure” author?

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s books, particularly The Vine of Desire. She’s a great storyteller.

What’s one of your favorite books?

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry is about four people from different origins in contemporary India whose lives converge in a tiny apartment. I was deeply affected by the hard lives the four characters led and how their relationships evolved over time. It truly moved me.

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