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We know what you read this summer

We know what you’re reading this summer

McKinsey’s annual reading list is back—reimagined for this pandemic year.

Eight months in, 2020 has turned out to be a year like no other in recent memory—one dominated by a global pandemic, destabilizing lockdowns, unending work-from-home weeks, and—depending on which continent you’re on—upended summer or winter travel plans. Meanwhile, we’ve borne witness to an unprecedented groundswell of protests and dialogue, especially in the US, as we collectively grapple with enduring racial-justice and equity challenges.

Now, we find ourselves at that moment in August when, even in a pandemic, professional lives often slow down. It’s also the moment when McKinsey Global Publishing typically asks business leaders to share books they have recently read, plan to revisit, or look forward to reading.

This year, we have consciously broadened our horizons to ask leaders and personalities from diverse fields and global organizations to talk about the books that have inspired them or, in many cases, provided a much-needed respite from our daily, often virtual, realities. We hope you will be as intrigued as we were when these 60 leaders shared their recommendations with McKinsey Global Publishing’s Raju Narisetti.

For added inspiration, we have also curated summer book recommendations from the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Washington Post, Guardian, Harvard Business School, and the long list of the 2020 Booker Prize. We’ve also included some recommendations from the editorial staff of McKinsey Global Publishing. Our hope is that this compilation helps you find opportunities to reflect and recharge as we prepare for what will likely be a challenging and unpredictable fall.

On August 17, the Financial Times unveiled the 2020 long list for our annual Business Book of the Year Award. The judges are now at work winnowing those selections to a short list, to be announced September 23 by McKinsey senior partner Dame Vivian Hunt, following a digital discussion hosted by FT editor Roula Khalaf, “Books, business, and beyond: Making sense of the near future.” Joining this discussion will be Raghuram Rajan, Katherine Dusak Miller Distinguished Service Professor of Finance, University of Chicago Booth School of Business; and Amy Webb, founder, Future Today Institute.

We invite you to register and join this virtual discussion from wherever you plan to be on September 23. The eventual winner will be announced in December. And if you haven’t read it already, we recommend the 2019 winner Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men, by journalist and activist Caroline Criado Perez. Here’s more from our blog on last year’s short list and winner.




Business Media



Civil Rights/Freedom of Expression

Diversity/Inclusion Activists



McKinsey Leaders

Other 2020 reading lists you might want to explore

Books by McKinsey Authors

McKinsey Books

– Explore a collection of books by McKinsey authors on the management issues that matter, from leadership and talent to digital transformation, corporate finance, and more.

Valuation: Measuring and Managing the Value of Companies, 7th edition

At the crossroads of corporate strategy and finance lies valuation. This book enables everyone, from the budding professional to the seasoned manager, to excel at measuring and maximizing shareholder and company value.

Fast Times: How digital winners set direction, learn, and adapt

Winning in the digital age requires both lightning speed and thoughtful deliberation. Companies able to master this paradox are emerging as today's winners. Those that can't will be sold for parts.

Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick

– The new book on how to beat the odds with a bold strategy


It takes a village to curate amazing lists from this rather busy group of leaders from all over the world. We would like to thank Nikhil Deogun, Mitra S. Kalita, Gabriella Stern, Rebecca Lowell Edwards, Steve Lipin, Sara Blask, Karen Wickre, Ailish Campbell, Anya Schiffrin, Tom Weber, Shernaz Daver, Jose Zamora, and Judi Mackey for their help.

Within McKinsey Global Publishing, Mike Borruso, Heather Byer, Philip Mathew, Louis Vizzi, Dan Redding, and Torea Frey were instrumental in making this year’s list come alive.

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