Arts and Culture

The books you should read in 2018, according to Harvard professors

A woman lies in the grass while reading a book, at Columbia University in New York, April 14, 2014. The temperature reached an unseasonably high 77 Fahrenheit (25 Celsius). REUTERS/Carlo Allegri (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY ENVIRONMENT EDUCATION) - GM1EA4F0IVL01

Professors at Harvard have shared the single book they think every student should read in 2018. Image: REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Abby Jackson
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Arts and Culture is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Arts and Culture

Harvard University professors constantly read and assign texts to their students. So they know a good book when they see one.

With that in mind, Business Insider asked professors at Harvard to share the single book they think every student should read in 2018.

The professors include Nobel laureates, scientists, economists, and Pulitzer Prize winners. The books they chose were as diverse as their professional backgrounds.

Read on to see what professors from Harvard think you should read next year.

'Anna Karenina,' by Leo Tolstoy

"I'm re-reading 'Anna Karenina.' There is no better novel I know about how women (and I don't mean just Anna) – elite, intelligent, educated – are ignored, oppressed, and have little legal recourse. Women are the caregivers, the empathetic. They hold society together and provide salvation even as the priests take the credit.

"Tolstoy's novel is as relevant today as it ever was. As a sideline, one also learns about technical change in agriculture and how to incentivize laborers to adopt it. And there is more … It is clearly the best novel ever written and worth another close read from us all."

- Claudia Goldin, economic historian and a labor economist, author of the forthcoming "Women Working Longer: Increased Employment at Older Ages"

'The Internationalists,' by Oona Hathaway and Scott Shapiro

"'The Internationalists,' by the legal scholars Oona Hathaway and Scott Shapiro, explain a phenomenon you probably didn’t even know existed — the decline of interstate war and conquest — with a historical event you probably think is ridiculous: the Kellogg-Briand Paris Peace Pact of 1928, which declared war illegal.

"But in their gripping and evidence-rich book, they make a plausible case. And like The Clash of Civilizations and The End of History, the book presents a sweeping vision of the international scene, making sense of many developments in the news and recent history."

- Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and the author of ten books, including the forthcoming "Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"

Have you read?

'Just Mercy,' by Bryan Stevenson

"I suggest Bryan Stevenson's 'Just Mercy.'"

- Stephen Greenblatt, English professor, Pulitzer Prize winner, and author of "The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve"

'The Theory of Moral Sentiments,' by Adam Smith

"Every economics student knows 'The Wealth of Nations,' but this earlier book presents a far richer and nuanced view of human nature than its more famous successor."

- Eric Maskin, economist, 2007 Nobel laureate, and author of "The Arrow Impossibility Theorem"

'Robot-Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence,' by Joseph Aoun

"'Robot-Proof,' by Joseph Aoun."

- EJ Corey, organic chemist, 1990 Nobel laureate, and author of "Molecules and Medicine"

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Arts and CultureEducation
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

Top weekend reads on Agenda: Luddites, art-tech, changing trade patterns, and more

Gayle Markovitz

February 16, 2024

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum