Back in May I promised to have a post on summer reading list for pre-MBA admitted applicants. There are a number of lists in print and especially on the internet for pre-MBA or mid-school summer reading. I have perused some of them and found them quite helpful. I often ask people to recommend books on some topics of interest to me, and I am specifically interested in recommendations based on their personal experience. There is no shortage of titles on any given subject, but given limited time resources I want to make sure that I get the most relevant, helpful, well written book – not just any book.
The list I am offering here comprises the books that I personally read, skimmed enough to get favorable impression or got recommended by people whose opinion and judgement I trust. This list is somewhat slanted specifically to the poets entering the MBA. The reason for this is that I am a poet myself and well familiar with the struggles the poets face in a quant-ladden core courses of MBA curriculum.
The four corner stones of MBA quantitative courses are accounting, statistics, economics and finance, . These courses serve as foundation for other electives when you go into concentrations and get deeper more specialized knowledge of the subject. They also permeate to some degree many other electives even outside the four core areas of expertise mentioned above.
The idea of having these books read before entering the MBA program is very simple. If you are from non-quant, non-business background the material covered in the MBA textbooks is quite advanced, and often very dry. In order to get some grasp of the advanced topics it is very helpful to have the basics out of the way. Otherwise you will be struggling to get the basics at the same time as you are required to absorb more complicated advanced topics. After all, even though you mostly get introductory and often cursory overview of the topics, they are still at graduate level and therefore require significant intellectual effort.
By having at least some foundation you will be able to concentrate on the MBA level material without the need of learning the preceeding material. This way you are more likely to do better in those quantitative courses and even have a chance to enjoy them inspite of you “poetic” nature.
Here is the list of books in no particular order with my short comments.
The Accounting Game. Basic Accounting Fresh from the Lemonade Stand. By Mullis and Orloff.
This was the book I stumbled upon on the internet. When I read reviews of it I got intrigued and decided to check it out in my local library. I already had all my accounting courses done by the time I got the book, so I mainly got it for my 12 years old daughter – a budding entrepreneur. She liked it a lot and she swallowed it in less than a week. While she was reading it we had a few discussion on the topics of accounting. One day she came to me and proudly announced that she knew what FIFO and LIFO was. I skimmed through the book and I wished I had read it before my MBA Accounting courses. It seems very simplistic, but it explains in simple terms and on simple examples many of the same things we were learning in our Financial Accounting I course. Of course, the MBA textbook was much drier, though overall I found it quite good. So if you are a poet and don’t know what FIFO and LIFO is yet, go and read the book before you get to your MBA Accounting class. You will be glad you did.
Basic Statistics. Tales of Distribution. By Chris Spatz.
Yet another pain point for poets in MBA. I struggled a lot with it and was desperate to get some relatively comprehensible book to complement my MBA textbook on statistics. At some point in my desparation I ended up with two graduate level textbooks on statistics. It was quite anecdotal situation and you can read about how that happenned in this post. I eventually found a real good book. I even have a post about it somewhere on the blog, but I cannot find it now. Anyways, statistics is not going to get any easier conceptually, but this book makes it as painless as humanly possible. I supplemented my statistics course with reading through it after the fact. But it would have been so much more appreciated if I could read it before starting my stats classes. Now you have a chance to do just that.
Micro- and Macroeconomics.
Principles of Economics. By N. Gregory Mankiw.
This was the book recommended to me by my professor in Microeconomics class to brush on the foundations. This recommendation was actually a much more to the point than the “statistical fiasco” I mentioned earlier. I used it slightly while taking Microeconomics, and I am planning to skim through the chapters related to Macroeconomics before I take that class this Fall term. It is a textbook, but it is more like undegraduate level with lots of practical examples of economic implications. To me it seemed a good supplement to my official MBA textbook on Microeconomics. I expect it to be helpful in my Macroeconomics class as well. I personally own the 3-d edition, which could be bought dirt cheap in used books on Amazon. The latest edition is over $100, but principles of economics hardly changed since the 3-d edition print date in 2004 😉 . So I would stay with the older edition, unless the new one is required by professor in your class.
Unfortunately I have not found a good book on introduction to Finance or at least written in simpler terms. I am sure there are some good books there, I have not really looked hard enough for them. So if anyone of the readers of this blog could recommend some introductory book to MBA Finance class suitable for poets, that would be great. Leave a comment or shoot me an email and I will add it to the list after skimming it.
As a matter of fact, the required textbook we used in our Financial Markets and Financial Management classes turned out to be the best-selling MBA textbook in all subjects – Financial Management: Theory & Practice (with Thomson ONE – Business School Edition 1-Year Printed Access Card) You can read more about best-selling MBA textbooks on PoetsandQuants.com
The last, but not the least book I will recommend to entering MBAs is Case Studies & Coctails by Carrie Shuhart and Chris Ryan. I am reading it right now and found a lot of helpful and insightful information. I skipped some sections that are not applicable to me, like finding an apartment and such. But otherwise I like it a lot. It also has a huge section on Grasping First-Year Academics to give you a head start on Marketing and Operations & Supply Chain in addition to the courses discussed in this post.
The post turned out too long. But I hope it will spare you more than one painful moment in your first year of MBA.