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The One Book Every Student Should Read in 2018, According to Harvard Professors

They know a good book when they see one.

Photo by Janko Ferlič on Unsplash
Photo by Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

By Abby Jackson

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

Find “Anna Karenina” here »

‘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”

Find “The Internationalists” here »

‘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”

Find “Just Mercy” here »

‘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”

Find “The Theory of Moral Sentiments” here »

‘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”

Find “Robot-Proof” here »

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