06 SEP 2019

2019 Back-to-School Reading List

Ready to get back into the swing of things? The fifth annual Goldman Sachs Back-to-School Reading List features a diverse set of books that will keep you hooked throughout the fall season. Check out what Goldman Sachs leaders across the firm and across the globe recommend reading. 

Dane Holmes – Human Capital Management, New York

The Road to Character, by David Brooks

David Brooks’ The Road to Character is an interesting examination of all the things that could make us better… better leaders, better citizens, better people. By recounting the journeys of bold-faced names from throughout history, Brooks reminds us that the pathway to character isn’t always a smooth and straight one. My favorite example from the book would have to be President Dwight D. Eisenhower (like anyone, not without his flaws), who essentially sits in the shadows for a long time – really until D-Day – before taking his place as one of the heroes of the twentieth century.

 

Beth Hammack – Corporate Treasury, New York

Daisy Jones & The Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I devoured this book in about four hours. A fabulous, fun, easy read set amid the rock and roll scene in the '70s. It's written as a series of interviews with the former band. The characters are completely captivating as is the era, their relationships and the shifting perspectives. It's got it all – sex/drugs/rock and roll, pursuit of perfection, and female empowerment.

The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin

A powerful story of four siblings whose lives are forever changed when they approach a fortune teller to find out the dates of their deaths. It's a beautifully written tale about the power of belief, superstition and the connections that bind a family together through time and distance. 

 

Anna Skoglund – Investment Banking, London

The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World, by Melinda Gates

A thought-provoking and inspiring account of the positive chain reaction unleashed by the investment in women. Gates blends her personal journey of discovery with those of her heroes; pioneers working in vulnerable communities around the world to empower women to drive change in their own lives and beyond. She provides extensive facts and numbers to complement these deeply moving individual stories, making a crystal clear case why investing in women is not 'only' the right thing, it's also the smart thing – a convincing call to action!

The Origin of Others (The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures), by Toni Morrison

Morrison examines our seemingly inescapable instinct to create 'The Other' to satisfy Homo sapiens' fundamental need to belong – and to get ahead – through a juxtaposition of literary work, her own and others. It's a slim book, but in about 100 pages she clearly and elegantly highlights a number of challenging and unsettling truths about the process of 'Otherisation' and how literature has contributed to promote these ideas. Morrison does not spare herself which makes the analysis all the more impactful – a highly relevant and important book in today's climate. 

 

Iain Drayton – Investment Banking, Hong Kong

Out of the Gobi: My Story of China and America, by Weijian Shan

Weijian Shan is Chairman of PAG, one of Asia's foremost alternative asset managers. I started reading this book in preparation for a Talks at GS session with him, but very quickly I became absorbed in his life story. Out of the Gobi chronicles Shan's improbable journey from his time as a spritely 13-year-old schoolboy – whose education was cut short by the Cultural Revolution via a decade of hard labor in the Gobi Desert – to a Ph.D. at UC Berkeley without any formal high school education, and ultimately back to China as one of the pioneers of the private equity industry. More than that, though, this is a story of someone who never gave up his dream to get an education. For years, he risked his life to study secretly by candlelight in the Chinese countryside, at a time when studying was outlawed. Shan says, "To give up was to commit a sin against myself. I reminded myself time and time again. And I would never give up."

Unbeatable Mind: Forge Resiliency and Mental Toughness to Succeed at an Elite Level, by Mark Divine

I picked up this book on the recommendation of a hiking buddy of mine, and couldn't put it down. As we get busier and busier with work and family obligations, it is very easy to lose perspective. And often times the stress from one area of your life can infect our behavior in other areas. Mark Divine, a retired Navy SEAL commander who has also built some extremely successful businesses, fuses what he calls "five mountains" of physical, emotional, mental, intuitive and spiritual intelligences, to (I think!) help us regain some perspective, and to motivate us to become strong but compassionate leaders who people want to follow. 

 

Zheng Li – Investment Banking, Hong Kong

The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro

This is a story of generational change with socio-economic and political transformation during the period between the Great World Wars. It is told through the eyes of an English butler who bears witness to the changing of the guard between the landed nobility and the professional politicians and businessmen of the post-war era. The questions raised by the transformation are all very relevant today and lead to introspection of life purpose and the human quest of identity. 

 

Asahi Pompey – Executive Office, New York

Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness, by Ingrid Fetell Lee

This data-driven book is based on years of study and explores how to find joy in your everyday surroundings – from the mundane to the substantive. Written with wit and insight, the book discusses how to identify the most joy-inspiring people, places, and objects in our lives. Fetell Lee explains why we stop to watch a beautiful sunset and can’t help but smile when new snow blankets the ground. By understanding the components of blissful moments, we can cultivate more of them to the benefit of society as a whole.

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, by Bryan Stevenson

As an attorney, Bryan Stevenson’s stories from his life’s work of fighting persistent inequities through an advocacy lens particularly resonated with me. From defending and amplifying the voices of clients in the south to co-founding the Equal Justice Initiative – Stevenson inspires us to think about how we influence society, and leaves us hopeful that the arc of history bends towards justice.

 

John Goldstein – Executive Office, San Francisco

The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern

My days, mornings and nights are full of dense conversation and materials – learning from and sharing content on sustainable finance, ESG and impact investing with clients, colleagues and peers. That means I love reading fiction that is diverting, engaging and a definite change of pace. The Night Circus is a charming book – full of beauty, magic and whimsy. Beyond the smile the book brings me for its imagination, characters and prose, there are a few key lessons that resonate with my day job:


1. In breaking new ground, collaboration creates a richer result than competition
2. When both of two choices look bad/zero sum, think harder
3. Taking a minute to appreciate something beautiful is usually time well spent


As for the book itself, imagine the most remarkable circus with exhibits and characters to match that has enough magic to be, well, magical, but is grounded enough in a world like ours to be immersive. The circus becomes the stage for creativity, competition and love. Now go read it!

 

Carey Halio – Corporate Treasury, New York

Machines Like Me, by Ian McEwan

Over my summer vacation I completed the thought-provoking novel from Ian McEwan on the ramifications of artificial intelligence in the extreme. It tells the story of Adam, one of a first batch of practically human robots. It was a bit unnerving to imagine and think about what it means to be a person in a world of artificial humans.

Favorite quotes:
- “My mind was empty, his was filling.”
- “In the compressed version, we would devise a machine a little cleverer than ourselves, then set that machine to invent another that lay beyond our comprehension. What need then of us?”
- “It’s about machines like me and people like you and our future together…the sadness that’s to come. It will happen. With improvements over time, we will surpass you and out last you…even as we love you. Believe me, these lines express to triumph… Only regret.”

Educated, by Tara Westover

My favorite recent read is Educated by Tara Westover. It is an exceptional memoir of an exceptional young woman who overcame an extreme upbringing. The author never stepped into a classroom until she was 17 years old. Her parents didn’t value education, modern medicine or birth certificates! She pushed herself in spite of this but still struggled with the importance of family loyalty and connection. 

Favorite quote:
- “All my life those instincts had been instructing me in this single doctrine – that the odds are better if you rely only on yourself”

 

Jo Natauri – Merchant Banking, New York

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot

A book that delves into the origin of the HeLa cell line which revolutionized science and significantly advanced humanity’s fight against diseases. This book celebrates Henrietta Lacks with historical context and highlights her importance to the scientific community.

The Billion Dollar Molecule: One Company's Quest for the Perfect Drug, by Barry Werth

Fascinating read of taking a scientific discovery from the lab to medicine that can actually be used in humans. A story that covers the trials of a start-up, clinical failures, and the importance of access to capital.

 

Akiko Koda – Human Capital Management and Executive Office, Tokyo

The Silo Effect: The Peril of Expertise and the Promise of Breaking Down Barriers, by Gillian Tett

Written by Gillian Tett of the Financial Times, this book is a lucid and accessible summary of how silos impact the workplace and ultimately the bottom line. Close to home is the example of one of Japan’s leading companies, where silos resulted in two internal teams competing with each other in a way that impacted the firm’s overall performance. Elsewhere, Tett shares cautionary tales of how silos can be ruthlessly exploited by competitors for their own gain. In our modern world of echo chambers and filter bubbles, the book is a timely reminder of the dangers of over specialization and the importance of collaboration across an organization.

 

Christina Ma – Securities, Hong Kong

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, by John Carreyrou 

Fascinating story of the rise and fall of a Silicon Valley unicorn. I thought it was interesting because the general view is that the Valley is filled with very smart people and investors. In this case, these same smart investors were willing to suspend disbelief and get swept up in the aura of Elizabeth Holmes. Whether it was their eagerness to provide a better solution to the healthcare world or it was their willingness to buy into a strong/charismatic founder, it was an interesting and cautionary story.

Shoe Dog, by Phil Knight

Story of Nike and Phil Knight, its founder – the story of a successful start-up albeit in a different sector. Interesting story about the journey of starting a company, the struggle and problems but also some of the wins. Biggest take away for me from this book was to have patience: building something good takes time. The other point is passion: everyone knows that Phil was a runner and that it came from his interest of running/fitness. Shows that patience and passion can take you far in this world.

 

Amanda Hindlian – Global Investment Research, New York

A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles

This book provides a view of Russian history from the early 1920s through the eyes of a Count who has been sentenced to spend the rest of his life under house arrest in an upscale hotel in Moscow. The characters are fascinating and there are multiple story lines that persist throughout the book against the backdrop of the changing political and economic landscape in Russia. 

The Parisian, by Isabella Hammad

This work of historical fiction covers a fascinating period following the First World War in which Palestinians begin to question what it means to have an independent nation state amidst British rule over the region. While the book is fiction, it nevertheless helps to illuminate some of the historical context that underpins ongoing issues in the Middle East today.

 

Michael Bartsch – Compliance, Frankfurt

Concept of the Corporation, by Peter F. Drucker

The Concept of the Corporation from Peter F. Drucker originally published in 1946 is an examination of General Motors. The inner working of a company and how this relates to a company's success or failure. The message applies still in today’s organisations as they must accommodate change and uncertainty by accelerating life-long learning, co-operation between humans and machines and leveraging ecosystems, it's necessary to understand the original purpose of the corporation.

Drucker studied the process of management to find out what really made a business tick. Until then management was simply to give orders and the employees would follow. But Drucker was interested in how the human interactions within a company, the power structures and political environments, information flows, decision making and managerial autonomy contributed to success. By shifting his focus, he was able to explain what contributes to the success of a company. 

Q-Economy, by Anders Indset

Q-Economy by Anders Indset, a Norwegian philosopher, is a thought-provoking analysis about the impact of technology on our societies. For the first time in human history, power is moving from people to machines. Thus, the battle of algorithms is on. “Data is the new oil” is the catchphrase. Because of the increasing speed of technology, the first real breakthroughs in quantum computing in 2019 and 2020 will require rethinking the economy with a holistic view for humanity. It is about developing a new operating system for our society that keeps us from becoming obsolete as a species—Homo obsoletus, the superfluous human being. You may not agree with the analysis but it gives a new perspective and who can predict the future?

 

Heather Miner – Executive Office, New York

The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World, by Melinda Gates

Melinda Gates writes a personal and powerful book on the broader societal benefit of women’s equality and empowerment. She weaves her own experience and anecdotes from global travels to better articulate the personal plight of the women and girls behind the data. An engaging and inspirational read, and ultimately a call to action.

 

Rita Chan – Investment Banking, Hong Kong

TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking, by Chris Anderson

Communication is becoming increasingly important in the workplace - what kind of impression do we want to convey? How do we explain tough concepts? I have always enjoyed TED Talks but dissecting the analysis of why these talks are so powerful is eye-opening. Many practical tips that would certainly inspire us to develop a new presentation style. 

The Strength Switch: How The New Science of Strength-Based Parenting Can Help Your Child and Your Teen to Flourish, by Dr. Lea Waters

Many of us excel at work but as a mother of two boys, I know intimately that it is a whole new game when we have to handle children. This book provided me with actionable strategies to help busy parents unlock our child’s potential and help them build their strength and resilience. Dr. Waters is recognized as a world expert on positive parenting. 

 

Amit Sinha – Investment Banking, San Francisco

West with the Night, by Beryl Markham

An incredible story about a woman largely forgotten by history, West with the Night is the memoir of Beryl Markham. Markham was the first person to fly from Europe to North America in a single flight - an amazing feat that took over 21 hours. Her fascinating tale recounts a life of courage, ambition and perseverance, but also one of pain and scandal. From her childhood in Africa, to her relationships with English royalty, to her many aviation records, Beryl Markham’s tale is the portrayal of a life lived to the fullest.

The Gene: An Intimate History, by Siddhartha Mukherjee

As a follow-up to his Pulitzer Prize winning book The Emperor of All Maladies, The Gene: An Intimate History is a highly engaging book that interweaves the historical, cultural, scientific and medicinal history of how we’ve advanced and employed our understanding of human genetics. In a time where we are seeing genetic testing become mainstream, gene therapies get approved, and gene editing become a reality, Mukherjee’s chronicle is a reminder of the power of both intended and unintended consequences that can arise as we pursue an ability to “read and write” this most fundamental code of life.

 

Jennifer Davis – Investment Banking, New York

Educated, by Tara Westover

I loved this memoir by Tara Westover as a reminder of what can be accomplished through pure grit and perseverance. After a harrowing childhood on so many levels, she overcame all odds to become a tremendous success.

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, by Trevor Noah

This memoir by Trevor Noah (which I read with my son!) was tremendously sad, motivating and funny all at the same time. It was incredibly inspiring and humbling to know his life story as the son of a single mom in poverty in South Africa and the challenges he overcame to become who he is today. It was both poignant as a personal story and educational in terms of the political and cultural climate of South Africa in the post-Apartheid era. 

 

Shubha Iyer – Technology, Bengaluru

IKIGAI: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles

What is your reason to jump out of bed each morning? This little book shares the experiences of people from the Japanese island of Okinawa, which has the largest population of centenarians in the world. It speaks of simple techniques to keep yourself healthy and happy, focused and entrenched in something that is aligned with your values, things you like to do and things you are good at. The best part is that it does not prescribe a major workout routine or an impossible diet but instead something more practical. The IKIGAI image in the book has become my favorite wallpaper!

Design the Life You Love: A Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Meaningful Future, by Ayse Birsel

In Engineering, we talk about “design thinking”. How refreshing would it be if we applied the same concept to designing life? This book (a workbook as such) provides a simple yet comprehensive structure to reflect on what you cherish, how you want to spend your time and many more dimensions that lead you to design the life you love. It is not only fun to read the experiences shared in the book but also a great way to bond with family in doing the creative exercises together. I refer back to my design often and it helps to stay the course and indulge in activities that I want to do.

 

Christian Johnston – Investment Banking, Melbourne

Legacy, by James Kerr

This is a book about the success of the All Blacks, the New Zealand rugby team which is arguably the world’s most successful sporting team. I’m not a huge rugby enthusiast but I found this book offered great insights into what it takes for sustained elite success and it is applicable for other sports, business and life in general. I particularly liked how it showed the importance of culture and humility via no-one being above “sweeping the sheds”; the correlation between the quality of preparation and ultimate success in execution; and the need to break the mold just at the time you are having success in order to ensure complacency does not creep in. What will your legacy be?

The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho

This is a classic story which tells us to follow our dreams and not lose hope. It is the story of Santiago, a shepherd boy, and his journey to realise his “Personal Legend”. Along the way he learns that fear is a bigger obstacle than the obstacle itself, to take action, to look for the silver lining in everything, to not dwell on the past as that has gone, to appreciate that failure is part of the journey so keep getting up when you fall, and to live your life not someone else’s. I particularly like this quote from the book: “The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times”.

 

Eric Neveux – Investment Banking, Chicago

Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow

Hopefully we’ve all seen the Broadway musical – if not, see it. What I’ve realized, is American history is a lot more interesting than I remember from my high school days (said by a college finance major). While a bit lengthy, this biography provides great perspective around A. Ham and shows the brilliance of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s adaption to the stage. 

Cockpit Confidential: Everything You Need to Know About Air Travel: Questions, Answers, and Reflections, by Patrick Smith

Ever wonder what causes turbulence or why some planes have wings that turn upwards or how much fuel a plane carries? As someone who (uncomfortably) uses air travel with great frequency, I figured it would be better to understand how these large metal objects are able to get off and stay off the ground. This book demystifies many common misconceptions and provides comfort around the science and process of air travel. Even for someone like me, who isn’t the biggest fan of heights and struggles with giving up total control.

 

Takashi Yoshimura – Compliance, Tokyo

The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000, by Paul Kennedy

Although this book was first published in 1987, its impact will no doubt be strong as ever for anyone who has an interest in military history or is curious as to why the world’s great powers rise and fall. In this book, Prof. Kennedy suggests that “great power ascendancy correlates strongly to available resources and economic durability.” At first glance, this statement might seem self-evident, but as you read the book’s encyclopedic account of what happened between 1500 and 2000, it becomes clear that a deeper understanding of events is really helpful in substantiating this thesis. This book offers a broad perspective that helps us to understand not only the past, but also the events developing in front of us right now. It provides a perspective on the universal nature of history and the subtle balance of power between nations. I find it fascinating to use these perspectives to make my own projections about the future of the world. And if you’re a history buff, this book is simply a very fun read.

 

Rohini Eapen – Operations, Bengaluru

Man's Search for Meaning, by Viktor E. Frankl

This book is an outstanding classic to emerge from the Holocaust and a story of his struggle for survival in Nazi concentration camps. As a famous psychologist he writes a firsthand account of his survival in Nazi death camps saying that it is not about the disgust and despair seeping out of one of history’s ugliest incidents, the Holocaust, but of the hope arising from the same atrocity. Reading this book is truly inspirational and encourages us to find greater meaning and purpose in our lives, feel positively about and imagining the outcome.

5 Second Rule: Transform your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage, by Mel Robbins

I am a voracious reader of books that expand the mind and this is one of the best books I have read on using metacognition to enhance your brain to achieve your goals. This book is completely backed by science and based on how Mel transformed her life to become an international best seller, speaker and businesswoman. The book gives you multiple examples of how people have used this rule and achieved their goals. The main premise of the book is that if you have an impulse to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will dissuade you to pursue that impulse. I have used the principles of this book with much success and would recommend it to your reading list.

 

Thomas Degn-Petersen – Finance, Frankfurt

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, by John Carreyrou

This book is about the breathtaking rise and shocking collapse of the multibillion-dollar biotech startup, Theranos. It is quite extraordinary how an inexperienced young college dropout was able to fool heavyweight investors and former politicians to back her revolutionary blood testing device, valuing the company at $9 billion. There was just one problem…the technology didn’t work! The audacity of the founder, Elizabeth Holmes, and the culture of secrets and lies at the company makes for a riveting read.

All Out War: The Full Story of How Brexit Sank Britain's Political Class, by Tim Shipman

This book provides a fascinating insight into the lead up to the referendum and the immediate aftermath. Brexit is arguably the biggest political event since World War II and even if you are not an avid student of politics (like me), this book is well worth a read. It truly is an inside story which offers access to all key players, attempted coups and people torn between principles and loyalty.

 

Niharika Cabiallavetta – Securities, London

A Suitable Boy, by Vikram Seth

Despite its enormous length of over 1300 pages, I remember the feeling of disappointment when I finished reading the last page. At its core, A Suitable Boy is a love story: Lata and her mother, Mrs. Rupa Mehra, are both trying to find—through love or through exacting maternal appraisal—a suitable boy for Lata to marry. Set in the early 1950s, in an India newly independent and struggling through a time of crisis, A Suitable Boy is a rich portrayal of four large extended families with a compulsively readable tale of their lives and loves. The story is set in post-independence India and explores a number of social/political issues of the time (i.e. land reform, Muslim-Hindu relations, women's rights, arranged marriage, the caste system), however, it’s the characters that drive the story while the political climate is thoughtfully weaved into the storyline as a backdrop. Despite, it being one of the longest books to be printed in English in one volume, I think the length contributes to its success, where it’s nearly impossible to read it without developing a real love for the wonderfully drawn cast of characters. 

 

Dirk Lievens – Investment Banking, London

Destined For War: Can America and China Escape Thucydide's Trap, by Graham T. Allison

I read Destined for War when it was first published back in the summer of 2017 and felt myself wanting to re-read it again this summer in light of the current trade war between China and the US. The title of the book refers to the historian Thucydides who in the 5th century BC, writing about the Peloponnesian War that devastated ancient Greece, explained: "It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable.” Thucydides’s trap arises when an incumbent major power faces an up and coming challenger to its role as hegemon, and despite a strong desire, and major effort, to avoid war, both eventually engage in a mutually destructive conflict. Over the past 500 years, these conditions have occurred sixteen times. War broke out in twelve of them. Today, as an unstoppable China approaches an immovable America and both Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump promise to make their countries “great again,” the defining question about global order in the decades ahead will be: can China and the US escape Thucydides’s trap?

Following Your Dream, by Pietro Lievens

A year ago, my then 11-year-old son told me he wanted to become a professional football player. I laid out the probabilities and then told him to go back upstairs, finish his homework and study harder. He angrily turned his back to me and said “you don't believe in me”. A few months later, for Father’s Day, he showed me this little manuscript he’d wrote to convince me I was wrong and that if you dream big and put your heart into it, maybe, just maybe it’s possible. A little book by a little boy dreaming big. Never give up, keep believing and keep following your dream. Don’t let anyone tell you it is not possible.

 

Amanda Creak – Technology, London

Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs, by John Doerr

I’ve spent the summer reading Measure What Matters by John Doerr – we introduced the concept of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) into Engineering for 2019 – this is the book that describes where they originated and how they helped transform Google from its pre-IPO days through to the company it’s become today. John Doerr was one of the first venture capitalists funding Google and introduced them into the organisation – he had learnt them from his mentor at Intel. The book not only helps with describing how to create/measure great OKRs but also provides really interesting insights into the tech companies he’s experienced. 

 

Erika Irish Brown – Human Capital Management, New York

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, by David W. Blight

This Pulitzer Prize winning book, written by a Yale professor who spent his entire career studying Douglass, is truly a tribute to Frederick Douglass’ incredible, yet imperfect, life. Born a slave, Frederick Douglass endured the horrors of slavery, escaped, developed into a great abolitionist, orator and writer and ultimately became a Presidential Advisor. Prophet of Freedom raises issues of race, gender and politics that feel all too relatable in the current environment (or in this century). For people interested in American history, the Civil War and/ or the study of historical leaders it’s an ideal read.

Becoming, by Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama’s memoir of her life is a truly inspirational read. The book takes you on a journey from her upbringing on the south side of Chicago to Princeton and Harvard and ultimately the White House. The book is honest, shares both accomplishments and challenges, including those of a working mother, and provides an intimate view of her courtship and relationship with President Obama. You are left believing that intellect, hard work and ambition can overcome socio-economic barriers and that Michelle Obama could absolutely be the first black woman president if she so chose!   

 

Kim Posnett – Investment Banking, New York

He Wanted the Moon: The Madness and Medical Genius of Dr. Perry Baird, and His Daughter’s Quest to Know Him, by Mimi Baird 

My dear friend’s step-mom wrote He Wanted the Moon. It is a brilliant and beautifully-written memoir. It is also a profoundly tragic and disturbing lens into mental illness and what so many people have suffered from. I was deeply touched when I read the book and couldn’t put it down.

 

Stefan Bollinger – Consumer and Investment Management, London

Educated, by Tara Westover

Educated is a truly amazing memoir of a girl growing up preparing for the End of Days in rural Idaho with radical survivalist Mormon parents. She does not get a birth certificate until age nine and sets foot into a classroom for the first time at the age of 17, yet she ends up earning a Ph.D. from Cambridge University 10 years later. 

A great back-to-school book—this is an unforgettable story about family loyalty and the transformative power of education. And a good reminder that we might not need to obsess with our kids learning to write at the age of four!

 

Ashok Varadhan – Securities, New York

The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life, by David Brooks

I recommend the book because David Brooks eloquently describes his transformation from being motivated by individual accomplishments, attention, and recognition to being driven by a desire to serve and to be part of community. I found his perspective provocative, accurate, and inspiring. I often reflect on how to incorporate his shift in my own evolution as a human.

 

Nicole Pullen Ross – Consumer and Investment Management, Philadelphia

Can't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds, by David Goggins

While traveling with a senior partner of the firm, he shared this book with me, and it was as inspirational a read as he promised it would be. David Goggins is an example of how to be the best of ourselves, beyond imagination. He overcame overwhelming childhood circumstances to become the only man in history to complete elite training as a Navy SEAL, Army Ranger, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller and become an extraordinary athlete – for example, in one of his many races, he placed 2nd in the Ultraman World Championship which is a three-day race including a 6-mile ocean swim, followed by a 261-mile cross-country bike ride and a 52-mile double-marathon covering the Big Island in Hawaii. David accomplishes all of this by training his mind to go beyond the “40% rule,” which he describes is the capacity most humans tap into during their lives. He strives to be "uncommon amongst the uncommon". David is an extraordinary human who inspires many to challenge themselves in all aspects of life.

Educated, by Tara Westover

A client who is a world class athlete and author recommended this book. This is a story about grit and self-motivation. Tara Westover provides a beautifully written narrative about how she survived a unique upbringing that was often dangerous and lacked any formal education, to ultimately attend college and receive a Ph.D. from Cambridge University. This is an articulate reminder that education changes lives.

 

Michael Casey – Investment Banking, Houston

The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames, by Kai Bird

The book recounts the career of our agency man in Lebanon. Through a combination of high emotional intelligence and an ability to navigate ambiguous situations, Ames proved to be a valuable asset in a challenging environment for operators. In addition to being a fascinating read about an interesting period of time in history that shapes modern day issues, Ames' approach to his craft provides insight that can be applied in the business world as well.