A reading list to prepare for a post-pandemic age

It’s too early to say we’ve entered a post-Covid world, but it’s never too early to prepare for the future. So to celebrate the launch of this year’s Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award, we asked shortlisted and winning authors to choose a book to add to a post-pandemic reading list.

Last years winner, Sarah Frier, author of No filter, has selected a book that could be in contention this year. His choice is Amazon unrelated (published next month), by Brad Stone, who himself won the Book Award in 2013 with his latest book on the ecommerce and tech group, The store of everything.

“Covid has only increased our dependence on tech companies, including the main one Amazon,” Frier wrote. “Brad’s book is essential to understanding the continued dominance of business, sometimes at great societal cost.”

Sebastian Mallaby, author of The man who knew (winner, 2016), More money than god (shortlist, 2010), and the next The law of power, a venture capital story, also opted for a 2021 title – Niall Ferguson’s Doom: the politics of disaster (published next month): “We are all trying to get a perspective on Covid, and Ferguson frames the tragedy in the broadest and most exhilarating way, drawing on the experience of humanity of all kinds of catastrophes, from the bubonic plague to the first world war. Sweeping in its narrative and multidisciplinary in its approach, Loss proves that you can write an interesting book on a repellant topic. “

Erin Meyer, co-author with Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings of No rule of rules (shortlist, 2020), recommended Made to stick (2007), Dan and Chip Heath’s “Practical and Entertaining Guide to Communication”, and Working couples (2019), by a colleague from Insead Jennifer petriglieri.

Of the latter, she wrote: “Last summer in the United States I had dinner with a realtor friend. Despite the economic hardships brought on by the pandemic, the housing market in Minnesota is apparently booming. The great thing everyone is looking for? Walls. Lots of walls. “Until the pandemic hit,” he explained, “open floor plans were all the rage. But now that everyone is stuck at home, most of the time we all want to be apart ”. I couldn’t help but wonder, instead of buying a new house to avoid seeing each other, maybe we should work on our relationships?

She added: “Working couples presents the lessons of a fascinating study [Petriglieri] conducted on dual career couples. If you’ve found that you and your spouse have had to renegotiate your relationship now that you’re all stuck at home, this book will show you how. “

Other writers have suggested seeking advice from the story.

Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms, authors of New power (shortlist, 2018), chose Mary Parker Follett’s The new state (1918): “Written as the world emerged from the ruins of World War I, the early and often overlooked management theorist reinvented democracy and organizing groups for a new world. She argued that representative government was not delivering enough for the people and that democracy itself would be in jeopardy unless it became more participatory, more deliberative, more locally relevant and able to bring together a new kind. of “collective will”. At another fragile moment for democracy and trust in institutions, his thinking is extremely relevant to how we imagine organizations in a restless and skeptical post-Covid world.

Sheena Iyengar, author of The art of choosing (shortlist, 2010), has also gone down in history for its choice, Only yesterday (1931), the informal story of Frederick Lewis Allen from the 1920s: “There is much to enjoy in this wonderfully written book, which recounts another turbulent decade, just like ours, after the influenza pandemic of 1918. With spirit and panache, the author, former editor-in-chief of Harper’s Magazine, describes business and other topics in a way that seems relevant and relevant, even almost 100 years later. “

Raghuram Rajan, winner in 2010 for Fault lines, and shortlisted in 2019 for The third pillar, suggested Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. (1998) by Ron Chernow: “In these days of great angst about the free market, I recommend this captivating biography of an archetypal capitalist, who built a rich fortune on hard work, prudent business acumen, coupled with spoonfuls of corruption, monopolization of business, and rank brutality. Before I condemn him, it helps to remember that he also spent the second half of his life donating his money, endowing both Rockefeller University and the University of Chicago, institutions that have contributed in such a way. significant to human progress.

Duncan Clark, whose Ali Baba was shortlisted in 2016, chosen The big reversal: how America abandoned free markets (2019), by Thomas Philippon, which he describes as “an excellent and timely analysis of how ‘regulatory capture’ has driven up costs for many consumers in the United States across multiple sectors of the economy, undermining competitiveness. Can America Get Back on Track? ”

Amy Webb, The big nine (long list, 2019), suggested three additions to our post-Covid list: Decoded girl (2020) by Rana el Kaliouby, “clearly explains why we need to make AI systems more equitable, diverse and humane”; Jared Diamond’s Collapse (2004) “asks whether our use and abuse of the environment has led to societal collapses throughout history”.

But his number one pick was troubling: Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel Brave New World (1932).

“Covid has resulted in the acceptance and rapid deployment of mRNA, a revolutionary advance in an emerging field called synthetic biology, which aims to rewire living organisms and program them with improved or new functions,” she writes . “If you reread this like a business book on the future of biotechnology, you will inevitably find yourself asking new questions: What assumptions must be true for our current strategy to be successful? What aspects of our business make us a target of disruption? What happens to our economic model if life expectancy is extended by 30 years? How could the future of the workforce be very different from what it is today? “

Some headlines to help meet the challenges of the post-Covid era

What to do with your money in a crisis: A survival guide, by Michelle Singletary (May)

American personal finance columnist Singletary shares her expert advice on weathering a financial storm, from pandemics to recessions, from bear markets to energy crises.

Remote work: Redesign of processes, practices and strategies to engage a remote workforce, by Chris Dyer and Kim Shepherd (May)

Advice on how to develop a successful remote working strategy that engages employees, enables them to reach their full potential and improves business performance.

The changing world order: Why Nations Succeed and Fail, by Ray Dalio (August)

Investor Dalio examines the most turbulent economic and political times in history to reveal why the times ahead are likely to be radically different from our lives.

The breed business: How to Create and Maintain an Anti-Racist Workplace – and Why It’s Really Good for Business, by Margaret Greenberg and Gina Greenlee (August)

A guide to how businesses large and small can make positive and lasting change to bring more racial diversity, inclusion and equity to the workplace.

The raging 2020s: Companies, countries, people – and the fight for our future, by Alec Ross (September)

Former Obama adviser Ross is proposing a new social contract to restore the balance of power between government, citizens and business.

To learn more about the Business Book of the Year award, please visit www.ft.com/bookaward

Share your opinions – and your book choices – in the comments section below

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