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2017 Gift Guide for MBA Applicants

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Are you struggling to buy a gift for the MBA applicant in your life this year? We completely understand. Buying a meaningful and interesting present for a soon-to-be business school student can seem like an impossible task—but it doesn’t have to be.

According to a recent research paper by National University of Singapore’s Adelle X. Yang and Chicago Booth’s Oleg Urminsky, the reason giving gifts can seem so hard is because there’s often a disconnect between what those who give and those who receive hope for from the exchange. In the study, the business school researchers found that while givers were happier with gifts that immediately put a smile on someone’s face, receivers preferred gifts that lasted over the long term.

That’s why, for this MBA gift guide, we’ve compiled a list of top book recommendations for 2017. These books might not supply an immediate smile, but they’ll provide long-lasting benefit to your MBA applicant. (And if you’re the applicant…feel free to share this list with the Santa in your life… 😉 

Big Science: Ernest Lawrence and the Invention that Launched the Military-Industrial Complex By Michael Hiltzik

Recommended by Stanford Graduate School of Business Dean Jonathan Levin, this book is not only entertaining but also informative. It’s a biography, adventure story, and history lesson all in one. It covers the story of how science went “big” and goes into detail about Ernest Lawrence, the man who started it all.

A review by the Wall Street Journal described it as, “Entertaining, thoroughly researched . . . an unusual take on Lawrence’s life and work—partly a biography, partly an account of the influence of his great idea, partly a short history of nuclear physics and the Bomb.”

Janesville: An American Story by Amy Goldstein

Awarded “Business Book of the Year” by both the Financial Times and McKinsey & Company, Janesville tells the story of the fallout from the closing of the General Motors’ assembly plant in Janesville, Wisconsin. It dives into what happens in an industrial town in America’s heartland when jobs disappear—and how it affects the middle class. Written by a Pulitzer Prize–winning Washington Post reporter, it offers an intimate account of the lives of autoworkers, educators, bankers, politicians, and more.

It was also chosen as a top business book by London Business School Professor Herminia Ibarra and University of Chicago Booth School of Business Professor Randall Kroszner. When talking about the book, Ibarra said she “hopes the chapters will be used to teach would-be executives how the answers to difficult business questions are often more complicated than they first appear.”

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

Recommended by Bill Gates, Evicted follows eight families in Milwaukee as they struggle to stay afloat. Written by a Harvard sociologist, the book takes a deep dive into poverty and economic exploitation. It also provides fresh ideas for solving these pressing issues through personal stories and data. Evicted pulls back each layer of the poverty cycle and how it affects more than just the poor family but all parties involved, including the city.

When writing about the book, Gates said, “If you want a good understanding of how the issues that cause poverty are intertwined, you should read this book about the eviction crisis in Milwaukee. Desmond has written a brilliant portrait of Americans living in poverty. He gave me a better sense of what it is like to be poor in this country than anything else I have read.”

The Wisdom of Finance: Discovering Humanity in the World of Risk and Return by Mihir Desai

Written by a Harvard economist, The Wisdom of Finance is an interesting and readable book that looks at the intricacies of finance. The book attempts to bridge the gap between art and business by looking at how novels, films, and biblical parables can all help to decode the risks and rewards of finance. Desai argues finance doesn’t have to be hostile to humanity but can be deeply connected to it.

It’s recommended by the managing editor at the Financial Times, Gillian Tett, who calls it “a charming, provocative, and readable book.” Tett goes on to say, “For non-financiers, it can be a great teaching tool; for financiers, it is a badly needed rap on the knuckles, and perhaps an inspiration.”

Buddhist Economics: An Enlightened Approach to the Dismal Science by Clair Brown

Recommended by UC Berkley and written by a UC Berkeley economics professor, Buddhist Economics provides a template for how governments and international bodies should act. The book outlines a holistic model that evaluates quality of life on more than just income—advocating for an examination that includes values, sustainability, and equity.

Robert B. Reich, the Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at UC Berkeley, called it, “An important and provocative book about where conventional economics goes wrong. As Clair Brown masterfully shows, a new and more sensible economics would focus on a sustainable environment, shared prosperity, and interdependence. Instead of being a dismal science, economics should be an inspiring story of how we can work together to improve the quality of life for all.”

Clear Admit Resource Bundle

Okay, please forgive us the little bit of self-promotion here…but if you’re shopping for someone still in the process of applying to business school, we’d be remiss not to recommend our own library of admissions resources. And for a limited time, we’re offering volume discounts if you bundle three or more of our must-read guides:

5 School Guides for just $59.99 (normally $124.95)
10 School Guides for just $79.99 (normally $249.90)
15 School Guides for just $99.99 (normally $374.85)

With the Clear Admit School Guides—available for instant download—applicants will become experts on their target schools overnight, learn how to craft stand-out essays, prepare to ace their admissions interviews, and more. That’s because the guides allow applicants to compare schools head to head using objective data that goes beyond published rankings and school-published marketing material.

To take advantage of this limited-time bundle offer, head to the Clear Admit Shop today.

No matter which book you choose for the MBA applicant in your life, you can’t go wrong this holiday season.

Kelly Vo
Kelly Vo is a writer who specializes in covering MBA programs, digital marketing, and topics related to personal development. She has been working in the MBA space for the past four years in research, interview, and writing roles.