What books are HBS faculty members reading this summer—and are certain publications especially meaningful to them? Turns out, faculty are interested in a variety of topics, everything from exploring spirituality and confronting climate change to losing themselves in thrillers and sci-fi novels:

Arthur Brooks: Spirituality and philosophy

This March, I returned from my fifth trip to Dharamshala, India, to work with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. We held a conference on how leadership and happiness principles are entwined. Inspired by this visit, I am re-reading Sogyal Rinpoche's The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.

In my Catholic tradition, I am finally reading Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross, a 16th-century Spanish mystic. It is a poem that comments on how our spirits are purified, but it also has modern implications: Today, the phrase "the dark night of the soul" generally refers to spiritual dryness, or profound loneliness and doubt. The best social science indicates that across the globe, our communities are becoming lonelier and less fulfilled. John of the Cross teaches how to find deep meaning in ordinary suffering.

At the same time, I'm reading Sick Souls, Healthy Minds by philosopher John Kaag. This book is a fantastic summary of the life and work of William James, the father of modern psychology, and a professor right here at Harvard. James endured intense personal struggles and is known to have studied life's most profound questions in order to save himself from his inner turmoil.

Arthur Brooks is the William Henry Bloomberg Professor of the Practice of Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School and Professor of Management Practice at HBS. He is the author of From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life, as well as the forthcoming Build the Life You Want: The Art and Science of Getting Happier, coauthored with Oprah Winfrey.

Hise Gibson: Leadership and habit formation

My summer reading list comprises books that cater to both my research interests and moments of relaxation. For my research on leading complex organizations and scaling businesses, I've chosen Unleash Your Transformation by Marco Van Kalleveen and Peter Koijen. This book offers valuable insights and practical strategies for leaders who are driving successful organizational change, aligning perfectly with my research goals.

To further deepen my understanding of habit formation, I'm excited to revisit Atomic Habits by James Clear. This impactful book explores the power of small habits and their profound influence on personal and professional growth. By re-reading Atomic Habits, I aim to reinforce these principles and apply them to my research and daily life.

In terms of leisurely reads, I've included The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, a captivating thriller that promises an engaging escape. This suspenseful novel follows the intriguing journey of its protagonist, providing a thrilling and entertaining experience during my leisure time.

With this thoughtfully curated selection, I look forward to expanding my knowledge, gaining fresh perspectives, and finding moments of relaxation throughout the summer.

Hise Gibson is a Senior Lecturer in the Technology and Operations Management Unit at HBS. He coedited the book Tutorials in Operations Research: Emerging and Impactful Topics in Operations.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter: Climate change and saving democracy

I've already read through a tall pile of scientific analyses and alarmist books explaining the climate crisis at lofty 30,000-foot levels, from Bill Gates' How to Avoid a Climate Disaster to Electrify: An Optimist's Playbook for Our Clean Energy Future by Saul Griffith. But even grounded books such as The Disposable City by Mario Alejandro Ariza make the challenges seem overwhelming.

Analysis is not enough; at HBS, we believe in action and the possibility of change. My current research examines solutions for cities and regions, including their surrounding vulnerable treasures—for example, an almost-finished case on the efforts of the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians to save the Everglades. I will learn from Greenovation: Urban Leadership on Climate Change by Joan Fitzgerald.

I will also dip into Palaces for the People by Eric Klinenberg, a book about "social infrastructure" more generally, which offers insight into urban green spaces, an achievable climate solution. Klinenberg describes green-promoting work in New York City, a part of his larger look at the role of public places in a democratic society. That leads to my second reading issue, saving democracy. I will read The Great Experiment: Why Diverse Democracies Fall Apart and How They Can Endure by Yascha Mounk, which offers reasons for optimism.

My third stack holds books I consume for the pleasure of good stories and engaging writing, which help improve my writing. These include legal thrillers with ensemble characters by John Lescroart, such as The Rule of Law; classic stories of investigators by Nelson DeMille (The Lion's Game and The General's Daughter); and the Dave Robicheaux series by James Lee Burke. Good teaching cases might not always be thrilling or mysterious, but they present dilemmas, offer a compelling narrative, illuminate the context, and in their way, provide unsolved problems for students to tackle.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter holds the Ernest L. Arbuckle Professorship at HBS, specializing in strategy, innovation, and leadership for change. She is the author and co-author of several books, including her most recent book Think Outside the Building: How Advanced Leaders Can Change the World One Smart Innovation at a Time.

Shunyuan Zhang: Time, design, and sci-fi

I have just started reading The Coach's Guide for Women Professors by Rena Seltzer. My fabulous female colleagues recommended it to me during a conversation about time management. (Who doesn't need more time, right?) The first chapter has already blown my mind—it's all about finding more precious time; there's this exercise where you make a list of 10 things to say "no" to in order to say "yes" to the truly meaningful stuff. Talk about empowering choices!

I'm also currently enjoying reading The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman. This book delves into the fascinating realm of design and human interaction with everyday objects. Norman provides thought-provoking insights on usability and human-centered design. The book is relevant to my own research on visual analytics. Picture this: designing an algorithm to extract visual uniqueness and key photographic attributes like aesthetics from products that shape consumer-brand interactions.

Finally, let me share a book that has touched my soul—The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin. This is a science-fiction masterpiece exploring humanity's quest for survival, technological advancements, and the mind-blowing destiny of the universe. This book continues to inspire me in ways I can't even put into words.

Shunyuan Zhang is an Assistant Professor in the Marketing Unit at HBS.

This article originally appeared on Harvard Business School Working Knowledge. Subscribe to the Working Knowledge newsletter.

About the Author

Dina Gerdeman is a senior writer at Harvard Business School, Working Knowledge.