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BCG Reading List 2023

Books Recommended by Business Leaders

Our 2023 reading list features books that have captured the attention of BCGers from around the world. Covering topics from climate and sustainability to AI, these recommendations offer the chance to look forward with optimism and reflect on what we have left to learn about ourselves and our planet. We hope that these book recommendations help you discover something new, find inspiration, or simply while away a quiet afternoon.

Interested in more reading and listening recommendations? Keep the content coming.

Artificial Intelligence

AI continues to grow exponentially and so does BCGers’ interest in it. These books recommended by business leaders highlight how we can use it effectively and responsibly.

The equality machine book cover

The Equality Machine
“The Equality Machine is basically an optimistic point of view on how we can use digital and AI to make the world more inclusive. It provides a good counter-point to a lot of doom and gloom.”

Amanda Luther
Managing Director & Partner

AI 2041 by Kai-Fu Lee book cover

AI 2041: Ten Visions for Our Future
“New digital technologies such as AI, GenAI, augmented/mixed/virtual realities are expanding the art of the possible. We now need to build these possibilities into existence. This book provides the necessary inspiration.”

Tolu Oyekan
Managing Director & Partner

Alignment Problem by Brian Christin book cover

The Alignment Problem
“The Alignment Problem was written several years ago, but is still extremely relevant. I commonly recommend it to help folks understand responsible AI issues, their linkage to underlying data, and how longstanding societal issues contribute.”

Steve Mills
Managing Director & Partner


Climate and Sustainability

Naturally, BCGers are still very much concerned with our warming planet. This book and podcast give a picture of how we can help stop global warming and how it came to be.

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Bloomberg  | Zero Podcast
“Akshat Rathi, who is a Bloomberg Climate Senior Reporter, speaks to guests leading the fight against climate change. This solutions-focused approach provides compelling insights into the policies, strategies, and clean technologies that are needed to reach net zero. Check out the episode How a fossil fuel company became a wind giant with Mads Nipper, Ørsted CEO, to hear about the challenges of the wind industry, and the role of corporate strategy and government intervention in accelerating the energy transition.”

Hubi Meinecke
Managing Director & Senior Partner; Global Leader, Climate & Sustainability Practice


This recommended book gives the long view of the trend toward deglobalization.

The end of the world is just the beginning by Peter Zeihan book cover

The End of the World Is Just the Beginning: Mapping the Collapse of Globalization
“With so much chatter about decoupling and potential shifts in deglobalization, the author of this book walks you through a longer time span of change (where we’ve been and how things could likely play out in the decades to come).”

Russell Dubner
Managing Director & Senior Partner


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

As diversity, equity, and inclusion work continues, it is essential to keep learning. This BCGer recommendation offers a creative perspective.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi book cover

“The book I recommend is Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. It follows the parallel paths of two African sisters and their descendants over multiple generations, and really shows the multi-generational impacts of slavery, segregation, and more. For me, it completely changed how I thought about the racial inequities that exist in America.”

Tiffany Yeh
Managing Director & Partner

Humans and Humanity

A new category this year, it allows BCGers to recommend books that shine a light on what it means to be human in a complicated world.

Origin Story by David Christian book cover

Origin Story: A Big History of Everything
“This book tells the story of the entire universe (the 'big history') through the lens of multiple disciplines including astrophysics, anthropology, and biology, and more. It is a fascinating, insightful, and accessible read that helps us understand the past and change your perspective on the future.”

Magalie Aoun
Associate, CEO Ambassador

Far from the Tree by Andrew Solomon book cover

Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity
“After interviewing 300+ families, in this seminal book, Solomon explores the lives and communities of people with a variety of horizontal identities (traits not typically passed down vertically from parents such as deafness, dwarfism, autism, and often treated as flaws). The stories of how being different is a quality, not a deficiency, are incredibly moving —as are the countless examples of caregivers and communities transcending prejudice and hardship with love.”

Nadjia Yousif
Managing Director & Partner, Chief Diversity Officer

Humankind by Rutger Bregman book cover

Humankind - A Hopeful History
Rutger Bregman: Humankind - A Hopeful History... no book has given me a more hopeful position regarding the true nature of mankind and our eventual ability to come to our senses.”

Felix Schuler
Senior Advisor

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo book cover

Les Misérables
Les Misérables has stood the test of time because it speaks to absolute, timeless truths. Early 19th century Paris was riven with poverty, structural gender and racial disparities, and the generational impact of conflict and war. Despite this unrelenting chaos, we see in Jean Valjean the vast impact of a single life lived in pursuit of redemption, mercy, justice, and grace. Les Misérables reminds me that in a chaotic world, pain everywhere is an occasion for goodness always.”

Michael McKissack
Principal, CEO Ambassador


Personal Growth

Personal growth is part of growing your business. These reading suggestions will help leaders understand what may be holding them back.

Mistakes were Made by Carol Tarvis and Elliot Aronson book cover

Mistakes Were Made (but Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts
“This book is about confirmation bias. It reveals how we stubbornly cling to beliefs despite evidence to the contrary (e.g., climate change denial, vaccine conspiracy theories). It unveils the cognitive triggers behind our resistance to changing our views, shedding light on why people invest significant time in fruitless pursuits, and ultimately providing valuable insights into our human psyche.”

Vinay Shandal
Managing Director & Senior Partner

The Gray Rhino: How to Recognize and Act on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore book cover

The Gray Rhino: How to Recognize and Act on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore
“This is not a new book, but my suggestion is The Gray Rhino: How to Recognize and Act on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore, by Michele Wucker. We often talk about uncertainty in the business environment, but what I observe is that people often see what’s coming, but ignore the threat for various reasons. The future is in our hands even today, if we recognize and act on these threats.”

Ryoji Kimura
Global Leader - Corporate Finance & Strategy Practice Area

Decisions about Decisions 2.png

Decisions about Decisions: Practical Reason in Ordinary Life
“How do you decide whether to accept that job offer? How to spend your vacation time? In Decisions about Decisions the always-brilliant, continually surprising, ever-thought-provoking Cass Sunstein takes on an activity we each perform thousands of times each day: making a decision. This book will make you a better decision-maker and a sharper leader. It will make you a better person too.”

Julia Dhar
Managing Director & Partner


BCG Alumni Recommendations

We count on former BCGers to enrich our world. Here, some of them have contributed their own suggested reading for business leaders.

the power of full engagement by Jim Loehr book cover

The Power of Full Engagement
“I love The Power of Full Engagement, by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. The book offers a simple, but highly powerful framework for self-awareness and management of states of energy. It provides a simple approach to proactive and intentional goal-setting for the things that are within your control in life. It's fair to say that it has had a transformational impact on my life since I first read it nearly 20 years ago.”

Pete Wheelan
Founder CEO, Wheelan Advisory Group (BCG Chicago Office 1996-1998)

Caesar: The Life of a Colossus by Adrian Goldsworthy book cover

Caesar: The Life of A Colossus
“In recent years, I’ve found more inspiration from classic literature than business books. This biography illustrates the magnificent life of Gaius Julius Caesar, probably the most influential person throughout Roman history. While providing rich details and stories about the last period of Senatus Populusque Romanus, this book can inspire business leaders about how to become a great and charismatic leader, to drive transformation in a huge organization and in a complex environment, and to overcome obstacles at any cost.”

Jerry Xia
Vice President at Fanshu (BCG Shanghai Office 2010-2017)


Make Your Reading List Yours

As Alan Iny’s groundbreaking book, Thinking in New Boxes, turns ten years old, he had this to say about recommended reading for business leaders.

BCG's Alan Iny headshot

"My recommendation for a compelling read is to try something new. Try a genre you haven’t tried in years, watch a random TED talk, grab a magazine you don’t normally read, or just ask someone what the last book they read was. The idea is to broaden your horizons and challenge your usual ways of thinking, and provide some fresh fodder for your brain. It’s a beautiful way to help spark creativity and make new connections.”

Alan Iny
Partner & Director, Creativity & Scenarios

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Celebrating BCG 60 & Beyond: Books that continue to shape the business world

As BCG celebrates 60 years of “unlocking the potential of those who advance the world,” we are proud to feature some of the timeless books that continue to be an influential force in the business world and beyond.

  • BEYOND GREAT - The old playbook for gaining advantage is no longer enough. It’s time to go beyond great. 
  • BLOWN TO BITS - Groundbreaking when it was published in 1999, its theories on connectivity have only become more relevant. 
  • COMPETING AGAINST TIME - More than 30 years after BCG introduced time-based competition, it still proves the power of time management.
  • GAME CHANGER - How strategic pricing shapes businesses, markets, and society.
  • IMAGINATION MACHINE - Inject new life into your company by using your imagination. 
  • PROFIT FROM THE SOURCE - Empower your company’s procurement function and put suppliers at the core.
  • SIX SIMPLE RULES TO OVERCOME COMPLEXITY - A set of strategies to promote new behaviors and improve performance. 
  • THE CHANGE MONSTER - A classic in the literature of change management.
  • THINKING IN NEW BOXES - The classic (released for BCG’s 50th anniversary) and much-quoted guide to overcoming your limitations and stretching your imagination.
  • YOUR STRATEGY NEEDS A STRATEGY - Which approach to strategy and execution is best for your business situation? 
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Summer Reading from the BCG Henderson Institute

BHI’s Thinkers & Ideas podcast features interviews with the authors of the best new books on strategy and management. Check out BHI’s Summer Reading List and subscribe to the podcast today.