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Whether it’s at the beach or curled up at home, summer is a great time to get immersed in a book (or podcast or movie). Our colleagues shared their top picks.
Nic Janvier, Senior Portfolio Manager, Head of U.S. Equities, EMEA
I recommend two books related to behavioral science. The Unpersuadables: Adventures with the Enemies of Science by Will Storr is a relaxed, funny beach read that explores the facts, beliefs and stories that we tell ourselves. The Delusions of Crowds: Why People Go Mad in Groups by William Bernstein is a bit wonkier but also very enjoyable. Bernstein looks at the biological, evolutionary and social roots of irrational group behavior.
Tom Murphy, CFA, Head of Investment Grade Credit
A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea by Masaji Ishikawa is a story of unfathomable suffering, deprivation and discrimination. It takes place over 30+ years following a Korean-Japanese “returnee” whose family left Japan enticed by a supposed paradise in North Korea in 1960. Not a breezy summer read by any stretch of the imagination, but a great book.
Colin Moore, Global Chief Investment Officer
The title is a bit unorthodox, but An Economist Walks into a Brothel by Allison Schrager is a fun way to understand economic and risk trade-offs against a series of quirky real-world scenarios. It’s a great intro into risk management.
Ted Truscott, Chief Executive Officer
My recommendation is Kazuo Ishiguro’s Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall. I’m a big fan of Ishiguro’s work, and in this book, music is intertwined with each of the stories. Ishiguro is rightly one of today’s most celebrated authors.
Toby Nangle, Head of Global Asset Allocation
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is the first of his African Trilogy. Like all his books, it gets under your skin in the way that non-fiction can’t. This short novel is an immersive experience; it feels a little like learning a new language.
There is so much we don’t understand about the world and until very recently, sleep was one of those things. In Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Dreams, Matthew Walker presents his answers in a popular and readable manner that changed my relationship with sleep.
Black and British: A Forgotten History by David Olusoga shows remarkable historical breadth, tracing Black British history from Roman times, through the Elizabethan age, the Atlantic slave trade upon which Britain built its fortunes and up to modern day. It’s a fabulous piece of scholarship and a compelling read.
Gene Tannuzzo, CFA, Senior Portfolio Manager, Global Head of Fixed Income
I can’t compete with Toby, so I’ll offer a movie recommendation. Uncorked on Netflix, is the story of a young man who upsets his father when he pursues his dream of becoming a master sommelier instead of joining the family barbecue business.
Josh Kutin, CFA, Head of Asset Allocation, North America
I really liked Batman: Creature of the Night by Kurt Busiek and John Paul Leon. It’s a post-modern graphic novel that doesn’t actually feature Batman as a character. Instead, it’s about a boy/man in the real world who reads Batman comics, and the inspiration this gives him when he loses his parents in a violent crime. Bonus points that it takes place in Boston, which the author felt was a good real-world setting to compare to Gotham City.
Maya Bhandari, Portfolio Manager
For a less serious beach read, I’d recommend Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro, which is about artificial intelligence, or AI “friends.” I’m a big fan of Ishiguro’s work, and this one is riveting. 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak is set in Istanbul and is about the moments after you die. It’s lighter than it sounds! I also liked Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It’s a brave and beautifully written book straddling Nigeria and America. For more serious reads, I recommend The Overstory by Richard Powers. It’s an exceptional book that weaves together life stories through trees, and it’s unlike anything I have read before. Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom by Katherine Eban is a fascinating, if disturbing, book on India’s Ranbaxy Laboratories scandal.
Adrian Hilton, Head of Global Rates and Currency
The Book of Eels by Patrik Svensson is a thoughtful and wide-ranging meditation on an enigmatic species that has, for centuries, frustrated humanity’s attempt to properly understand it. I also would recommend Joseph and His Brethren by H. W. Freeman. Freeman is all but forgotten now, but he enjoyed brief popularity between the wars, writing a number of novels covering the joys and hardships of life in the east of England during either side of the turn of the 20th century. This one is deeply rooted in the soil of that region and a rural society feeling its way reluctantly toward modernity.
Anwiti Bahuguna, Head of Multi Asset Strategy, Senior Portfolio Manager
I really liked The Jungle Grows Back: America and our Imperiled World by Robert Kagan. It’s a thoughtful look back at the history of American unilateralism leading up to World Wars I and II, the recent trend back toward unilateralism and why it might return us to a violent and bloody world order. The Premonition: A Pandemic Story by Michael Lewis is a gripping read about the scientists and public health officials who saw through the censored news out of China — they were terrified and sounded the alarm well before everyone acknowledged the severity of the situation.
Fred Copper, CFA, Senior Portfolio Manager
Deacon King Kong by James McBride is set in the projects of 1960s New York. The story is about Sportcoat (aka Deacon King Kong, taken from the name of the vicious moonshine he drinks) who inexplicably shoots a local drug dealer, a boy who had been a rising baseball star back in the days when Sportcoat was the local baseball coach. McBride writes with an ease, power and happy sadness that is genuinely remarkable.
This is a bit outside the typical range of books recommended here, but I’m reading Walking With Miss Millie by Tamara Bundy to my seven-year-old daughters. It’s about a young girl in the 1960s south who must move to the town of Rainbow to help her grandmother who can’t take care of herself anymore. She accidentally befriends Miss Millie, her grandmother’s 92-year-old neighbor. It is beautifully, beautifully written and introduces a lot of concepts about the different ways people choose to treat each other. It’s set in a challenging time, when a lot of the societal norms we may take for granted were just being forged. I’m really enjoying reading it to them.
Guy Pope, CFA, Senior Portfolio Manager
To keep things lively, I’ll make some podcast recommendations but would caveat that some episodes are better than others. Jocko is by the ex-Navy SEAL and now leadership guru/author/consultant Jocko Willink. SmartLess features Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes and Will Arnett and is light and funny. Straight Talk with Hank Paulson usually gets great guests and should be called Straight and to the Point as episodes are usually under 40 minutes, so it does not require a huge time investment.
Jim Bumpus, CIMA National Sales Manager
I enjoyed Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI. It’s non-fiction by David Grann that reads like a detective novel. Grann writes about astonishing racism, brutality and corruption by the white establishment on the Osage people, who had acquired great wealth due to oil on their land in Oklahoma. Incredible research and a disturbing but fascinating story.
William Davies, Chief Investment Officer, EMEA and Global Head of Equities
An outstanding, but quite difficult book is A Life Too Short: The Tragedy of Robert Enke by Ronald Reng. It tells the story of an outstanding German (soccer) goalkeeper and his struggles coming to terms with the pressure of success and threat of possible failure.
Catherine Steinstra, Head of Municipal Bond Investments, Senior Portfolio Manager
American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins is a page turner full of terror and drama that brings to life the plight of refugees and challenges they face. It’s a powerful testament to a mother’s love and her urgent drive for her child’s safety and well-being no matter what the cost.