Best Finance & Business Books for MBA Students

Updated: Jun 28

A list of the best finance & business books curated by Arpit Lahoty, my batch mate at IIM Ahmedabad. These finance books are recommended for the students and professionals who wish to pursue MBA (specifically MBA Finance) or who wish to get into finance jobs after MBA. Arpit has read most of these books and others are a part of his reading list. Please Note: I have added some Amazon Affiliate links in front of some books in case you wish to read more about them or purchase them.

In Arpit's Words:


I. BUSINESS BIOGRAPHIES

1. "The Everything Store" by Brad Stone - An amazing book on how Amazon started, and its formative years. Amazon has evolved quite a bit since this book was written; but a great peek into the mind of one of the most brilliant business people of our time.


2. "Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping our Future" by Ashlee Vance - Whether you love him or hate him, you cannot ignore Elon Musk. Musk is, without a doubt, a true visionary and this book does an excellent job of capturing his life and achievements. (If you are interested in reading more about Elon Musk and his companies, I would suggest the blog waitbutwhy.com)



3. "The Ride of a Lifetime" by Bob Iger - Bob Iger, erstwhile CEO and now Executive Chairman of Disney, shares his ideas around leadership and how he built Disney into the largest and one of the most successful media companies in the world.



4. "Bad Blood" by John Carreyrou - A definitive account on Theranos, the infamous startup run by Elizabeth Holmes. This book reads like a thriller and should not be missed.


5. "Shoe Dog" by Phil Knight - An inspirational story of how Phil Knight built Nike into the powerful brand that it is today.


6. "Bottle of Lies" by Katherine Eban - An investigative and eye-opening account of the malpractices in pharma business in India.



7. "Onward" by Howard Schultz - In 2008, Howard Schultz returned to lead Starbucks to help restore its financial health. An amazing book on how Starbucks achieved profitability and sustainability during one of the toughest economic periods in American economic history.


8. "Super Pumped" by Mike Isaac - Super Pumped does an excellent job of describing the rise of Uber, and its eventual 'fall'. Mike Isaac goes into details of Uber's sometimes-shady tactics, its toxic work environment and how its investors ousted Travis Kalanick.


9. "No Filter" by Sarah Frier - A look inside Instagram, right from its origin to after it was acquired by Facebook. A brilliantly written, captivating book.



II. BUSINESS & FINANCIAL MARKET'S HISTORY

1. "Barbarians at the Gate" by Bryan Burrough & John Helyar - An exciting account of KKR's takeover of RJR Nabisco, perhaps the most dramatic takeovers in the American corporate history.


2. "Too Big to Fail" by Andrew Ross Sorkin - A definitive account of the 2008 crisis. If you prefer movies, then would suggest watching 'Inside Job'. There are several other movies on the subject like 'Too Big to Fail', 'The Big Short', 'Margin Call' etc, but I found Inside Job to be the best.



3. "When Genius Failed" by Roger Lowenstein - A book on how Long Term Capital Management, heralded as the 'smartest hedge fund', folded. A gripping tale of ego, greed and blind spots.



4. "The Big Short" by Michael Lewis - Again on the 2008 crisis, but from the vantage point of investors who saw it coming and profited from the crisis. As mentioned above, there is a movie by the same name if you prefer movies.


III. FINANCIAL ANALYSIS & CORPORATE FINANCE

1. "How Finance Works" by Mihir Desai - An easy-to-read book about financial statements and corporate finance. Serves as an excellent introductory guide.



2. "Key Management Ratios" by Ciaran Walsh - More in-depth than How Finance Works, but easy to read nonetheless. Full of practical examples and case studies.


3. "Financial Statement Analysis" by Martin Fridson - Probably the most recommended textbook on financial statement analysis.


4. "Financial Shenanigans" by Howard Schilit - An amazing guide to understand how to detect accounting frauds, misrepresentations and gimmicks. Full of case studies.



5. "Lessons in Corporate Finance" by Paul Asquith & Lawrence Weiss - This is a textbook used in finance courses across the world - it is full of case studies and deals with almost all topics that you would need in a CF book - from ratio analysis to capital structure and investment decisions.


IV. ECONOMICS

1. "Economics: The User's Guide" by Ha-Joon Chung - Would recommend this book over any of the textbooks generally used in colleges. Easy to read and understand.


2. "Freakonomics" by Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner - For those who find economics boring (like me), this highly entertaining book combines the theories of economics with everyday issues and topics. If you like this book, consider reading Super Freakonomics by the same authors.



V. BUSINESS STRATEGY & FRAMEWORKS

1. "7 Powers: The Foundations of Business Strategy" by Hamilton Helmer - A comprehensive strategy framework, more in line with current times as compared to some well-known strategy classics.


2. "Understanding Michael Porter" by Joan Magretta - Michael Porter's concepts are essential readings to understand business strategy, but his books are quite long and dry. This book does a fantastic job of distilling the core concepts.


3. "Modern Monopolies" by Alex Moazed & Nicholas Johnson - Some of the largest businesses globally today have one thing in common - they are 'platform businesses'. This book decodes what platform businesses are and how they would impact conventional businesses.



VI. INVESTING

1. "The Five Rules for Successful Stock Investing" by Pat Dorsey - Perhaps the best introductory text to how to think about investing and sustainable competitive advantages. While a lot of people recommend 'The Intelligent Investor' by Benjamin Graham as the definitive guide, I found that book to be a very difficult read (dare I say, boring).



2. "Why Moats Matter" by Heather Brilliant & Elizabeth Collins - Why Moats Matter is a comprehensive guide to finding great companies with economic moats, or competitive advantages. Details the investing process used at Morningstar.


3. "The Manual of Ideas" by John Mihaljevic - This book reveals investing frameworks used by top fund managers across the globe.


4. "Writings by Michael Mauboussin" by Michael Mauboussin - Michael is one of the most prolific finance writers. He has authored several books and research articles. Have not listed all because there are too many and all are fantastic. Here's a handy collection of his papers/articles. I would recommend 'Measuring the Moat' as the first paper to read; it is absolutely brilliant.


5. "The Investment Checklist" by Michael Shearn - What separates The Investment Checklist from other investing-related books is that it helps you implement a principled investing strategy through a series of checklists - its as practical as a book can get.



VII. VALUATION

1. "Damodaran on Valuations" by Aswath Damodaran - Perhaps the most recommended book on valuation. Supplement it with Prof. Damodaran's blog.



2. "Valuation: Measuring and Managing the Value of Companies (McKinsey & Co)" by Tim Coller, Marc Goedhart - While relatively lesser known than Prof. Damodaran's book, I feel this book does a much better job at tying in valuations and corporate finance with business strategy.


3. "The Little Book of Valuation" by Aswath Damodaran - A brief introduction to valuation, can be thought of as a precursor to Damodaran on Valuations. Read this if you just want to get an introduction to valuations, while not getting into too much details.


4. "Narratives and Numbers" by Aswath Damodaran - Reading through Prof. Damodaran's blogs shows how he always ties in valuations with a story. He says that the story and numbers both matter, and both reinforce each other. Read this book to understand he convergence between qualitative and quantitative aspects of valuation.



VIII. PE, VC & ENTREPRENEURSHIP

1. "Mastering Private Equity" by Claudia Zeisberger - The definitive guide to private equity. Supplement it with 'Private Equity in Action' by the same author to look at case studies of PE and VC investments.


2. "Secrets of Sand Hill Road" by Scott Kupor - A good insight into how top venture capitalists think.



3. "Venture Deals" by Brad Feld - The definitive guide to VC fundraising; this book dives deeply into how deals are constructed, why certain terms matter (and others don’t) and more importantly, what motivates venture capitalists to propose certain outcomes.


4. "Zero to One" by Peter Thiel - This book enjoys almost a cult status among entrepreneurs and VCs and for good reason.



5. "High Growth Handbook" by Elad Gill - Elad has previously worked with companies like Airbnb, Twitter, Google, Stripe and Square. In this book, he outlines his lessons around growing companies.


IX. OTHER BOOKS

1. "Seeking Wisdom" by Peter Bevelin - A multi-disciplinary search for wisdom. The author does an amazing job of distilling wisdom from people like Einstein, Feynman, Darwin and Charlie Munger.


2. "Thinking in Bets" by Annie Duke - A book on how to make smarter decisions in the face of uncertainty (which is almost every time). Annie Duke draws on examples from multiple fields like business, sports, politics and poker.



3. "Naked Statistics" by Charles Wheelan - The chances of coming across a statistics book which is not boring are pretty low; hence I am glad I found this book. A fun-take on statistics, and deeply insightful.

Hope you find this extensive reading list of books useful for the finance domain. I'd like to thank Arpit for taking out the valuable time to list his favourite finance and business books for the benefit of the blog members.


Arpit has worked in financial due diligence and investment banking prior to his MBA, and will be joining McKinsey & Co. as a consultant. If you wish to read other articles written by Arpit on his blog, you must follow Marginal Futility.


His other article @Non-engineers:



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