MSL 2020 Reading List Recommendations

When students are admitted to the MSL program, we provide a list of recommended reading – books that we feel will help prepare students to study law. You can review the list here; you’ll see a mix of law-related titles, books related to skills development, and books with an interdisciplinary focus.

Most students pick and choose from the list, with the goal of filling in gaps in their knowledge/exposure, while some (ambitiously) read the entire list!  We recently asked our MSL staff and alumni for additional recommendations – below, we include some votes of confidence for books already on the reading list, as well as some additional recommendations for books and podcasts to review.

If you are still looking for more great reads, check out the Northwestern faculty recommendations: Faculty Share Their Summer Reads.

Recommendations from MSL staff and alumni:

  • Accidental Genius by Mark Levy (book from Public Persuasion course) – Amanda Burke (MSL ’20)
  • Audio book versions of The Lean Startup by Eric Ries and Random House Audio or the Future of Capitalism by Paul Collier – Justin Chae (MSL ’20)
  •  Bad Blood by John Carreyrou – Keerti Tadimeti (MSL ’20)
  • “Watch court drama TV shows and films like Erin Brockovich and Law & Order, especially if you’re really new to law and/or from out of country. You don’t need to know the difference between a plaintiff and defendant coming in to MSL, but it helps.” – Eric DeChant (MSL ’20)
  • Grit by Angela Duckworth, Mindset by Carol Dweck and Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahnman – Amanda Laucher (MSL ’20)
  • Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
    • “Not even on the list of relevant books, but best book ever!” – Radhika Raturi (MSL ’20)
  • How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
    • “This book will make you rethink everything you think you know about racism, policies, human behavior, culture, gender, and more.” – Francesca Bullerman, MSL Faculty Assistant
  • Law 101: Everything You Need to Know About American Law by Jay M. Feinman (already on the recommended reading list)
    • “This book really helped me dive into the right mindset as my friend Armando calls it. While I did not remember every single detail from the book, it primed my brain on what to expect in the Legal and Regulatory Process course. It provides a framework for organizing regulatory law and legal process, both of which are crucial to succeed in law school.  – Eric Ni (MSL ’20)
    • “Law 101 is a great foundation.” – Eric DeChant (MSL ’20)
  • Lawyer 2 Lawyer Podcast with J. Craig Williams
    • “This helped me become more aware of important contemporary issues in society from a legal perspective. After beginning the MSL, I continued to listen to this podcast because it allowed me to apply the legal principles I learned to analyze real life court cases. It was also really easy to listen to because I could just tune in whenever I had free time.” – Eric Ni (MSL ’20)
  • OMG WTF Does the Constitution Actually Say?: A Non-Boring Guide to How Our Democracy Is Supposed to Work by Ben Sheehan
    • “Ben Sheehan left his job as executive producer at Funny Or Die to found OMG WTF (Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin, Texas, Florida) to teach voters about state races during the 2018 midterms. In this work, he discovered the rapid decline of civics education (right now only 8 US states require a year of civics *or* government in K12 education), and that most of his adult peers didn’t have a basic understanding of our country’s foundational document. Vetted for accuracy by constitutional law experts, I found OMG WTF Does the Constitution Actually Say? to be an entertaining, accessible guide that explains what the Constitution actually lays out. Digestible notes and infographics cover everything from the Second Amendment to the stated rules around Supreme Court nominations. Ben walks us through the entire Constitution, from preamble to final amendment, injecting moments for laughs and levity.” – Ashlee Hardgrave, MSL Admissions Manager
  • Outcry on Showtime
    • “A 5-part TV series that chronicles the story of a high school football player who was accused and convicted of sexual assault, and then later exonerated.  Might not make you feel great about the justice system, but will certainly demonstrate the power of law and give you something to think about.”  – Leslie Oster, MSL Program Director
  • Planet Lex Podcast by Northwestern Pritzker School of Law
    • “If you want to become more familiar with our law school culture, learn more about our excellent professors, and a lot of very interesting legal topics, check out the Northwestern law podcast Planet Lex. The podcast covers the latest and cutting edge legal topics like law in the time of coronavirus, intellectual property, privacy law, free speech, and social justice – there’s even an episode about the MSL! Listen to Planet Lex to start your Northwestern Law journey!” – Qingyang Meng (MSL ’20)
  • The Book of 5 Rings by Miyamoto Musashi
    • “Miyamoto Musashi was a legendary Japanese swordsman and wrote The Book of Five Rings in the mid-17th century. It is a collection of his teachings on the different elements of battle. Musashi writes “It is difficult to understand the universe if you only study one planet.” He takes a holistic approach to battle and emphasizes that battle is performed mentally within your mind as much as it is performed physically with your body.” – Amear Alhadidi, MSL Program Assistant
  • The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America
    • “It’s about the World’s Fair in Chicago, a great non-fictional book about Chicago’s History that reads like a novel!” – Amie Patel (MSL ’20)
  • The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. & E.B. White (already on the recommended reading list)
    • “Remember most everyone in law reads a lot and can write well. Polish your writing skills.” – Eric DeChant (MSL ’20)
  • The Startup of You by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha (already on the recommended reading list)
    • “Everyone should read it if they’re working, plan to work, or plan to start a business!” – Evan Goldberg, MSL Director of External Relations
  • The Will to Battle [Book #3 of Terra Ignota Series] by Ada Palmer
    • “The Will to Battle is the third book in Ada Palmer’s Terra Ignota series (the first is ‘Too Like the Lightening’). The series has incredible world-building and walks the line between sci-fi and fantasy. Ada Palmer is an historian and her background in academic history comes through in the books.” – Jeremy Adler, MSL Program Administrator
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