Summer reading for accounting faculty

Fill your beach bag with accounting history and bitcoin.
By Matthew Philpott

The semester is nearly over and students aren’t the only ones ready to relax. Summer often means a little extra free time for reading. If you’re looking for summer reading that will keep you turning pages and give you insight into world of finance at the same time, try one of these picks from your fellow educators:

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike
by Phil Knight (Scribner, 2016).

In this memoir, Knight shares the story of how he turned a $50 loan into a trunkful of shoes, which he then built into his $110 billion sneaker behemoth. Famously private, Knight details how a commitment to the unconventional path and a handful of formative relationships led him to create what would become the world’s largest supplier of athletic shoes and clothes.

“This book is an amazing read about a worldwide-known brand and its founder,” said Audrey Gramling, CPA, Ph.D., accounting professor at Colorado State University. “This book would be a relevant supplement to an accounting student’s (or any business student’s) coursework, as it provides an inside look at the journey to creating an iconic brand by an individual who is a practicing accountant and an academic accountant.”

Double Entry: How the Merchants of Venice Created Modern Finance by Jane Gleeson-White (Norton, 2013).

Luca Pacioli’s writing on double-entry accounting fueled the development of capitalism. In this book Gleeson-White examines its lasting impacts — alongside its faults — as well as why the financial world may be ready to move beyond its 500-year-old roots.

“I have used this book in my Principles of Financial Accounting class, and the students even found it interesting!” said Amy Cooper, CPA, CGMA, accounting instructor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She noted, “I often ask my students how long double-entry accounting has been around, and I always love watching their faces when I tell them that Friar Luca Pacioli first wrote about double-entry accounting in 1494.”

How Money Got Free: Bitcoin and the Fight for the Future of Finance by Brian Patrick Eha (Oneworld Publications, 2017)

The bitcoin roller coaster of the past year left many questions about the cryptocurrency — and for many the chief question remains: “What the heck is bitcoin?”

For an accessible answer to that question, give this book a try. “This book breaks down not only the underlying technology that runs bitcoin, but also covers the idea and concept that has made this entire asset class catch fire,” said Sean Stein Smith, CPA, CGMA, DBA, assistant professor in the business and economics department at Lehman College in New York City. “Easy to read, and nearly impossible to put down, this is a must-read for any faculty member seeking to learn more about cryptocurrencies.”

The Financial Diaries: How American Families Cope in a World of Uncertainty by Jonathan Morduch and Rachel Schneider (Princeton, 2017).

How do you plan for a future measured in decades on an income with peaks and valleys measured in months — or even weeks?

Working off a yearlong study of more than 230 households in five states, Morduch and Schneider walk readers through the challenges of financial planning for families living on volatile incomes. The book draws upon both hard data and the real and personal stories of the study’s subjects. It presents a perspective on finance that accountants might find eye-opening.

“Reading this book will give financial services professionals a new ‘lens’ with which to make personal finance recommendations,” said Barbara O’Neill, Ph.D., distinguished professor in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University and extension specialist in financial resource management at the Rutgers Cooperative Extension. “Faculty who teach personal finance will be motivated to develop customized advice for families with fluctuating incomes and teach their students about the hardships of managing irregular cash flow.”

Matthew Philpott is a freelance writer based in Durham, N.C. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact senior editor Courtney Vien at Courtney.Vien@aicpa-cima.com.

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