10 book recommendations from our academic community

Here is a selection of books by Esade experts covering topics such as entrepreneurship, diversity, geopolitics, and public policy

Do Better Team

World Book Day is just around the corner and so we bring you recommendations from the Do Better community of contributors. Whether you are celebrating Sant Jordi (the Catalan tradition of giving a book and a rose to your loved ones) or want to find new books to read, you will find some interesting recommendations from our experts.  

Book recommendations

The Will of the People: A Modern Myth by Albert Wheale 

Democracies are dominated by a myth: the myth of the will of the people. And populist movements are using this myth to challenge elected representatives. Politicians who invoke the will of the people fail in their duty to make responsible decisions. Moreover, public opposition to political decisions is stifled by the fear that opposing the ‘will of the people’ will be seen as elitist. Weale disassembles the idea of the will of the people to reveal that it is based on a mythical view of participatory democracy. As soon as a choice between more than two simple alternatives is involved, there is often no clear answer as to what most voters want. Moreover, as governments must interpret the results of referendums, imposing the will of the people opens the door to strengthening executive control – the opposite of what one would expect when invoking the will of the people. Weale argues that we must discard this myth. Flourishing democracies require open societies in which elections can be challenged, parliaments strengthened, and populist leaders held accountable. 

Marc Esteve, Director of the Esade Center for Public Governance - EsadeGov 


The Paris bookseller by Kerri Maher 

The Paris Bookseller is about the famed Shakespeare & Company bookshop in Paris. It tells the story of its foundation in 1919 by Sylvia Beach, a young American who settled in Paris; and how her determination and enterprise turned the bookshop into a center of Anglo-American culture and a meeting place for writers such as Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and James Joyce. Sylvia Beach published the first edition of Ulysses, a novel that later encountered great difficulties following its publication in the United States. In The Paris Bookseller, the protagonist, with little business knowledge, learns to overcome the difficulties and combines her passion for literature with opportunity: Paris at that time was a culturally vibrant city that attracted artists from all over Europe and the United States. 

Eugenia Bieto, Director of the Esade Gender Monitor 


Not Born Yesterday: The Science of Who We Trust and What We Believe by Hugo Mercier  

Mercier is one of the most prominent authors in a new wave of analytical social psychologists, like writers such as Daniel Kanheman (with whom he enters an interesting discussion on the definition of a ‘rational actor'). Mercier uses an accessible yet scholarly and extremely rigorous approach to analyze how information saturation in modern society can lead to widespread skepticism. The book examines the underlying mechanisms of human communication, such as ‘costly signaling’ and open surveillance systems, and how these influence our perception and trust so that the real risk is not that we believe everything, but that we end up believing nothing.  

Jorge Galindo, Deputy Director at the Center for Economic Policy - EsadeEcPol


Chip War: The Fight for the World's Most Critical Technology by Chris Miller 

Semiconductors are the building blocks of the digital economy. Since their emergence in the middle of the last century, they have spread around the world and entered almost every sector and device – injecting silicon intelligence into most every process of our daily lives. Electronic chips are vital for the operation of mobile phones, computers, airplanes, cars, industrial robots, medical devices, and many household appliances. They are also essential for the development of artificial intelligence. Billions of chips are manufactured every year. But their growing complexity means that they are made by an ever-smaller number of companies and countries, to the point that mastery of semiconductors is a matter of geostrategic interest. The new globalization revolves, among other things, around the control of silicon chips. This exciting book tells the story of the emergence of semiconductors and the fierce struggle for their control. 

Xavier Ferràs, Associated Dean of the Esade Executive MBA


Easy Reading by Cristina Morales 

Easy Reading is a critical story about normality, the right to self-determination, and life on the margins. It tells the story of four women with varying degrees of intellectual disability who live in a sheltered apartment in the Barceloneta neighborhood of Barcelona. 

Each chapter is written, often in the first person, from the perspective of one of the women. This enables us to approach the characters in an individual and non-stereotypical way. The book reveals the tendency to include everybody with disabilities in the same category and so ignore the specificity of their condition. The story takes place in a variety of venues: contemporary dance classes for people with disabilities (but often spaces of hypocrisy and manipulation); official facilities intended to protect people with disabilities that sometimes infantilize them or silence them through medication; stages in the legal process for sterilization; meetings of squatting collectives; and successive encounters with the police and authorities. By the time the story ends, the reader will have developed an intimate relationship with each of these women and shared in their struggles.

Easy Reading is about difference and inclusion; freedom and restriction; and conformity and revolution. It is a fictional story that shows us how people with disabilities are confronted with restrictions imposed by formal and informal authoritarian systems that are disguised as democracy and solidarity.

Rita Mota, Researcher at the Institute for Social Innovation, and Irene Unceta, Researcher at the Institute for Data-Driven Decisions, Academic Director of the Bachelor in Artificial Intelligence for Business (BAIB)


¡Plántate! Crisis climática, bosques y salud humana (Only in Spanish) by Josep Santacreu

It is unusual for a senior corporate executive with a long history of professional success to publish a book on the state of the environmental crisis and offer practical solutions. We only have a future, says Santacreu, if companies commit to sustainability. The private sector is responsible for 65% of the world's GDP, creates 8% of global wealth, and 90% of jobs. We need leadership in business to go beyond making money, we need social leadership to confront the great challenges facing humanity and, above all, the climate crisis. This book offers a message of hope and a practical testimony about the systemic change we need.  

Àngel Castiñeira, director of the Center for LeadershipS and Sustainability


The Little Black Book of Entrepreneurship by Fernando Trías de Bes 

‘Don’t say you weren’t warned’ is the subtitle of the Spanish version of this book, which has become a classic in the world of entrepreneurship. Some 80% of startups fail within five years, yet manuals fail to explain why. Fernando Trías de Bes analyzes the key factors behind failure and the traits needed by an entrepreneur to create a new business. In his opinion, it is not the ideas that fail, but the illusions that are defeated due to a lack of imagination and flexibility to face unforeseen events.

Marcel Planellas, member of the Esade Entrepreneur Institute


The Philosophy of Economics: An Anthology de Daniel M. Hausman 

In times of immediacy, I recommend a book that needs remoteness to think deeply about the purpose, methods and implications of research in Economics. This is Philosophy of Economics: An Anthology by Daniel M. Hausman. There are classic essays by Stuart Mill, Weber, Knight, Marx, Veblen, Friedman, Simon, Schumpeter, Kaldor, Sen, among others, and more specific ones on the different schools of thought and modern research directions. A book that I recommend for both specialists and non-specialists that makes us think deeply about the foundations of an important discipline in social sciences, and not about the latest popular topic. It provides a way of thinking can save us from obsolescence. 

Anna Bayona, Director of the Group for Research in Economics and Finance (GREF)


The Voltage Effect: How to Make Good Ideas Great and Great Ideas Scale by John A. List  

This is a book that everybody in public policy should read, and in general everybody involved in wide scale experiments that aim to be translated to policy. Why very successful pilots don’t work in real environments? What is needed to test their real potential effect? These are some of the questions that you will find in this book. Even if it is oriented to policy, many of the considerations and models also work in companies. Scaling up pilots, ensuring that they will succeed is crucial in any organization. 

Esteve Almirall, Director of the Center for Innovation in Cities 


Energy Transitions: Global and National Perspectives by Vaclav Smil 

With climate change mitigation as an imperative, we are embarking on an energy transition at a scale and speed never seen before in human history. Yet looking back at history can provide precious clues for our present and future. In this book, Vaclav Smil – a master at analyzing data at a planetary scale – presents a methodical picture of today’s energy system and its past transitions. In his signature data-driven (and sometimes somewhat dry) style, he examines transitions in nine major economies and provides important insights on the road to decarbonization. 

Marie Vandendriessche, Research Coordinator at EsadeGeo - Center for Global Economy and Geopolitics 

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