Books to get you through lockdown

Recommended reading from London Business School faculty and staff


Whether they are looking at the pandemic squarely in the eye or diverting our attention to the world’s other great challenges, these are the books to take you through the pandemic and beyond.


Vyla Rollins, Executive Director, Leadership Institute: 

Books 1

Edge: Turning Adversity into Advantage by Laura Huang 

A great read for anyone who has battled to get past perceptions and stereotypes that the world and organisations may project on to them, in a way that their actual skills and capabilities can be clearly recognised. 

Riding the Leadership Rollercoaster by Manfred F.R. Kets De Vries

This book provides an interesting perspective on how leaders can identify and examine the deeper meaning of their actionsand the actions of others. For me it also offers an engaging point of view on what repetitive, self-defeating behaviours can look like and strategies leaders can deploy to ensure they avoid falling into these behavioural traps.


Alex Edmans, Professor of Finance: 

Books 2

Black Box Thinking: The Surprising Truth About Success by Matthew Syed

This insightful book highlights the value of using evidence to spur continuous improvement. In particular, it stresses the need to consider all evidence – including evidence that makes you feel uncomfortable – and the dangers of jumping to your preferred interpretation of a particular set of data. This is particularly relevant for the current crisis, where misinformation abounds and we might readily accept flimsy “evidence” that supports our view of what actions policymakers should take. 


Chris Higson, Associate Professor of Accounting Practice:

Books 3

The Future of Capitalism by Paul Collier

All business students need to be on top of the very active current debate about our economic system and whether it is sustainable. Paul Collier’s book offers an incredibly scholarly yet readable treatment of the issues and potential solutions.



Kathleen O’Connor, Visiting Associate Professor, Organisational Behaviour:

Books 4

Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez

Look around, Criado Perez tells us, it’s a man’s world. And her careful review of the scientific literature tells us why—most of what we ‘know’ about a wide range of issues including comfortable office temperatures, the calories one can burn doing housework and the signs of heart attacks are all based on studies of men. In fact, many long-established ‘facts’ are dangerously wrong when it comes to women, with serious consequences for their health. This book is an eye-opener, rooted in sound science and rigorous analysis and forthright in its call for studies of women and for data disaggregated by sex.

Dying for a Paycheck by Jeffrey Pfeffer

In this sobering volume, Pfeffer, a Stanford professor, reviews the data on work and health. The news is not good. If you are considering whether to change how you work and live post-pandemic, this could be the book that gives you the push you need.


Rajesh Chandy, Tony and Maureen Wheeler Chair in Entrepreneurship; Professor of Marketing; Academic Director, Wheeler Institute for Business and Development:

Books 5

Guns, Germs and Steel. A Short History of Everybody for the Last 13,000 Years and Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive, both by Jared Diamond

These are gripping books that are more relevant today than ever before. ‘Collapse’ is as ominous as it sounds, but just the reminder we need to act now.


Jules Goddard, Fellow of London Business School:

Books 6

Blueprint: How DNA Makes Us Who We Are by Robert Plomin

Blueprint is a wonderful book. Plomin distinguishes between nature and nurture, he argues that 30% of who we are is down to nurture. The difference is there are no direct relationships between cause and effect as there are with genetics. One example he uses is Bill Clinton who as a teenager met JFK on a school trip to the White House. He decided in that moment to become President of the United States himself. Plomin explores how the power of thought, ambition and how we serendipitously bump into opportunity, together with our own sense of happiness and success, shapes us. It is through our cumulative and habitual choices that we have some control over the person we become. 


Sir Andrew Likierman, Professor of Management Practice in Accounting:

Books 7

Deep Medicine: How Artificial Intelligence Can Make Healthcare Human Again by Eric Topol

A fantastic insight into the impact of AI. Yes, this is applied to medicine not business, but it takes us through what humans can do better, what machines can do better and how the two will coexist. This book makes it real for other fields as well.  


Jessica Spungin, Adjunct Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship 

Books 8

Coronavirus: A book for children by Elizabeth Jenner, Kate Wilson and Nia Roberts with Axel Sheffler

There are many of us out there who have time and space to stretch our minds whilst the distractions of travel, the commute and the outside world disappear in the abnormality that is lockdown. For others, we are busier than ever, with the simultaneous challenge of continuing to work, with extra people at home, some of them small, and seemingly no end to the constant cleaning and organising and cooking for everyone in your household in a world where eating out and grabbing a coffee on the way to class is no more. 

We are also facing the reality of relating this all to those small people in our homes. The children who may love having us at home but may be too young to understand why the playground is shut, the schools are closed, they can't climb lampposts on the street anymore and no-one is coming over for a playdate. We are hoping we are making good memories with them and teaching them the resilience that will make them super-star LBS graduates of the future. But we fear our own stress and anxiety comes out with every 'shouty moment' we as parents give into. 

To that end, I share the only new book I've had time to read in the lockdown so far ‘Coronavirus: A book for children’. This book, written and published for free, shows the power of agility and responsive and the importance of simple communication. I recommend it to those with children under 10 and, to the working mums out there - be strong, be resilient, and whatever you're doing, I am sure you're doing your very best.