Goldman Sachs Fall Reading List

22 OCT 2018

In search of a good fall read? The Goldman Sachs Reading List, now in its fourth year, features a diverse collection of thought-provoking books you won’t want to put down. Check out what Goldman Sachs leaders across the firm and across the globe recommend reading this season. 

Katherine Alexakis—Global Investment Research, London

The Making of Modern Britain, by Andrew Marr  

Andrew Marr’s The Making of Modern Britain gallops through the social, economic and political history of Britain from 1900 to 1945 in a thought-provoking, often amusing way. The author’s skill lies in his ability to humanise the key figures who shaped the era, as well as drawing out the issues that remain top-of-mind today, ranging from protectionism to populist politics. This page-turning book bridges the gap from the Edwardian era to the middle of the 20th century in a highly readable manner, covering everything from the suffragette movement to the foundation of the BBC, and taking in the rise of American popular culture and the first-ever meeting between Mr. Rolls and Mr. Royce along the way. I would highly recommend this vivid account to those who already have a detailed knowledge of British history, as well as those who have only a passing interest (along with a dose of curiosity!)–there is something in here for everyone.



Margaret Anadu—Urban Investment Group, New York

My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante

This masterfully written work of fiction tells the story of an increasingly intense and complex friendship between two young girls growing up in a poor but dynamic neighborhood in 1950s Italy as one leaves and the other stays. Given to me by my best friend, this book repeatedly reminds me not only of the importance of friendship amidst constant changes in our lives, but also the power of those friendships to simultaneously root us in who we are and to change us as well.



Rachana Bahadur—Operations, Bengaluru

Our Iceberg is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions, by John Kotter

This book is a well-written, simple story of a colony of penguins that face a large dilemma of their home in the Antarctic melting. The story conveys a powerful message about the fear of change, how to motivate people to face the future, and take necessary action to adapt and embrace the inevitable change that is in front of them.

Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China, by Jung Chang

This book details the lives of three generations of extremely powerful women living in a rapidly changing China. The everyday horrors they face are unsettling, but their stories are fascinating, moving, and filled with lessons of resilience and bravery. Despite the heavy material, it does not read like a textbook at all; the narrative flows with ease and it is difficult to put down. I would highly recommend this book to everyone, especially those of us who take the freedoms we have for granted.



Sharon Bell—Global Investment Research, London

Kindred, by Octavia E. Butler

Published in the late 1970s and set in both New York in 1976 and the American South under slavery in the early 1800s. It made me think about how we all would behave under such extreme circumstances in a society built on such a corrupt model. Dana, the main protagonist, is transported back to the early 1800s. As a black woman under slavery her humanity is taken away from her – in the eyes of others – but she manages to keep it herself. I also found it fascinating that the “modern day” sections – which in fact relate to 1976 – seem so incredibly familiar.

Sports Geek: A Visual Tour of Myths, Debates, and Data, by Rob Minto

I would never have bought this book for myself; it’s my son’s, he loves sports and sporting facts. But he often left it lying around and I kept browsing sections. It’s a great book for a quick 10-minute read each time. Lots of charts and stats on topics like “Is the Tour de France getting easier?”, “Is the 2-hour marathon in reach?”, “Speed vs. age in baseball”. I kept finding myself dipping in and out and really enjoyed it. The author is an FT journalist and he clearly has the eye for an interesting angle or story.



Chris Buddin—Investment Banking, San Francisco

Leonardo da Vinci, by Walter Isaacson

Loving this book. I’m reading it because I realized I thought I knew a lot about Leonardo, but really didn’t. One of the most amazing individuals of anytime–artist, inventor, tremendous creativity, thirst for knowledge, etc. A true innovator. I’m still shocked at how much he was able to accomplish over his lifetime. It’s an inspiration.

Strangers in their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, by Arlie Russell Hochschild

Another cool book. I wanted to read this after the elections to try to understand how people think in the more rural parts of the country. Why would it be that individuals would vote - with conviction - for people and policies that don’t actually improve their personal situation? It’s an attempt to learn more about why there appears to be a growing political divide.



Stephanie Cohen—Executive Office, New York

The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class Survives, by Lisa Servon

Well-researched book about the population that is underserved in today’s banking system and what we can do to change it. Our Marcus strategy, and the focus on solving customer pain points, is aligned with the author’s views on how the banking sector needs to change.

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World--and Why Things Are Better Than You Think, by Hans Rosling

Highlights the importance of understanding the world based on facts and not just instincts. Instincts that helped our ancestors survive in the jungle can create misperceptions about the state of the world and the opportunities for future improvements.



Jane Dunlevie—Investment Banking, San Francisco 

Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, by Johann Hari

An insightful book about the global drug crisis. Chasing the Scream chronicles Hari’s three-year investigation of the causes of and solutions for addiction.  Hari pairs data with personal perspectives and historical narratives. The book challenged my perspectives and was a thrilling read.

Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History, by S.C. Gwynne

Gwynne’s historical account focuses on two intersecting stories. The first, of the Comanches and their enormous diplomatic and political influence.  And the second, of the Parker family. A detailed look at the determinant force the Comanches were in the opening of the American West.



Naosuke Fujita—Legal, Tokyo

Speak Now: Marriage Equality on Trial, by Kenji Yoshino

Three years ago, a colleague at work came out as gay. That was a life-changing event for him… and for me. He came out because he wanted to give hope to the younger LGBT generation in Japan so they could lead a different life than his. He confided that his most important goal was to realize marriage equality – so that gay individuals could also marry the person they love and create loving and lasting relationships. Denial of marriage creates stigma, entrenches discrimination, and relegates gay people to second class citizens. At that time, however, I had no clue what marriage equality meant for gay people. That is until I luckily stumbled on Speak Now by Kenji Yoshino, a prominent constitutional law professor at NYU. Carefully reviewing the 3,000 page transcript of court hearings, Professor Yoshino takes us through a real-life courtroom drama that took place in San Francisco in 2008; Hollingsworth v. Perry, a federal challenge to the California constitutional ban on same-sex marriage introduced by popular ballot. The court case on which the book is based carefully examines the arguments for and against marriage equality from leading experts who are subjected to rigorous cross examination by some of the most eminent lawyers in the United States. The book is at once a testimony to the power of the legal process to uncover prejudice and find the truth, but also a touching story of the individuals involved in the litigation and that of the author himself.



Andre Kelleners—Investment Banking, London

Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior, by Leonard Mlodinow

Subliminal is a book about the profound influence of our unconscious mind on the way we perceive and interpret the world around us. It reveals factors subconsciously driving the way we collect and retain information, make decisions, and the bias in how we consciously and subconsciously form judgements. It reveals the imperfections of our own beliefs and the limitations of our conscious mind. The research presented in this book is an interesting and entertaining reminder of the importance for all of us to keep testing our own assumptions. And if that is not humbling enough, read his second book, The Drunkard’s Walk on the impact of chance and probabilities on everything we do.



Vidya Lakshmi—Human Capital Management, Bengaluru

Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach

I chose this book given its simplicity but with the power to deliver very profound life lessons. The book is about Jonathan Livingston Seagull, one of the many seagulls from the Breakfast Flock colony. While for most seagulls flying is just a means of finding food, for Jonathan Livingston Seagull, flying is life itself through which he discovers his potential. His journey of self-discovery teaches us that we are perfect and unlimited, the value of mastery, the need to learn from our failures and the importance of letting go. I have read and re-read the book plenty of times since it was recommended to me early this year by a speaker at a GS event. The book reminds me about making the most of the life I have been given.

The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan

I am a big fan of time management and productivity books and read them all the time. But this book is my all-time favorite. The book is a simple read with plenty of practical tips and strategies to identify your ONE THING (focus on what truly matters) and eliminate distraction. The layout of the book is also interesting with plenty of illustrations with no more than 5-10 pages per chapter. My favorite quote from the book that I follow is, “What’s the one thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier and unnecessary?”



Alison Mass—Investment Banking, New York

The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups, by Daniel Coyle

As someone who leads a global team, I am always looking for examples of how to improve the culture of our team. I really believe that our clients directly benefit from our cohesive operating model. This book tracks successful teams like the US Navy SEALs and explains how diverse groups can function successfully with a shared vision. As he says in his book, “Culture is not something you are, it’s something you do.”



Des McDaid—Consumer and Commercial Banking, London

How to Be Human: The Ultimate Guide to Your Amazing Existence, by New Scientist

A fascinating and thought-provoking observation about how humans are wired to behave. “How did you get to be who you are and what makes you tick?” The answers may surprise you. The book covers a huge range of topics from free will, religion and the need for possessions, to why we are so hairy. The ideas and evidence are well presented, it’s not too heavy and doesn’t take itself too seriously. How to Be Human doesn’t have all the answers but it gives you a whole new perspective to look for them.

Rough Diamond: Turning Disruption Into Advantage in Business and Life, by Nicole Yershon

This is the story of Nicole Yershon who was a hugely successful and inspirational Chief Innovation Officer at Ogilvy for over a decade. Rough Diamond is all about disruption, embracing change, and technological innovation. At times the book feels a little self-indulgent but it’s packed full of interesting anecdotes, life lessons and insights into how to get stuff done. Nicole was the ultimate “intrapreneur” driving innovation and change into big marketing agencies over the last 30 years. I love the energy and passion she brought to her work and it’s a great read for the budding disruptor.



Celine Mechain—Investment Banking, Paris

Bakhita: A Novel of the Saint of Sudan, by Veronique Olmi

It is a book that really touched me. It tells the story of a 7-year-old girl in Darfur, Sudan – Josephine Bakhita – who was kidnapped by slave traders. For about 10 years, she suffered violent and humiliating treatments, was sold several times until being bought back by an Italian diplomat who brought her to Italy and gave her freedom back. She lost her family, her identity, even her name and was confronted with the violence of racism all her life. Her strength and resilience proved remarkable as she ended serving in a convent, school and infirmary run by the Canossian Sisters in Italy until her death in 1947. Her reflections on what happened to her in her childhood, on what she suffered as a black woman, and the two world wars she had to go through in Europe are amazing. Like for Mother Teresa, the Catholic Church started her beatification process in 1959 and she was canonized as Saint Josephine Bakhita by Pope Jean-Paul II in 2000 and adopted as patron Saint of Sudan.



Timothy Moe—Global Investment Research, Hong Kong

The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph, by Ryan Holiday

I read this when it first came out a few years ago and gave copies to my team. It is a compact and impactful summary of Stoic philosophy that is immediately applicable to work and personal life. The key message is that challenges will occur in one’s life but you can choose how you perceive and frame them. Then, you must take constructive action to confront the challenge and have the willpower to persist.

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World--and Why Things Are Better Than You Think, by Hans Rosling

This is a book recommended by Bill Gates that I have found to be an excellent counterpoint to the generally negative and extreme characterization of global affairs offered by mainstream media. The insights are all grounded in data, which appeals to my inner analyst. After reading it, I find myself more optimistic about many global issues without downplaying the severity of many of the challenges that humanity still faces.



Sharmin Mossavar-Rahmani—Investment Management, New York

World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech, by Franklin Foer

A book about how the large technology companies are affecting our world, invading our privacy, and using their monopoly powers to influence every aspect of our decision making. It makes us aware of the pitfalls we face and enables us to develop well–informed views on how to manage our use of the products and services of the technology titans.



Takashi Murata—Securities, Tokyo

Hit Refresh, by Satya Nadella

Written by the third CEO of Microsoft after a few years into the role, this is a book of two halves. In the first half, Nadella shares the inside story of Microsoft’s transformation and how the company rediscovered its soul,  while reflecting on his own personal journey from an upbringing in India to working in the US tech sector. In the second half, the author talks through his vision and questions for the future regarding the rapid technological developments occurring in our world.  In both parts, Nadella focuses on the importance of empathy as a key quality for humans and organizations. An honest and insightful account of change and growth, the book is very relevant to any individual or company facing the challenges of adapting to an evolving world.



Kate Richdale—Investment Banking, Hong Kong

The Victorian House: Domestic Life from Childbirth to Deathbed, by Judith Flanders

Far more informative than a comprehensive history of the Victorians, as Flanders’ room-by-room approach makes it accessible enough to be finished and enjoyed.

The Secret History, by Donna Tartt

Brilliantly written, with an unusual storyline that isn’t overwhelmed by Tartt’s detailed description.



Jami Rubin—Global Investment Research, New York

What Justice Demands: America and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, by Elan Journo

A very complicated and emotional subject, but a unique and refreshing perspective of the conflict from a secular moral framework. 

The Talented Mr. Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith

A dark but highly entertaining novel about the suave Tom Ripley, a sociopath who gallivants around Italy in the 1950s. 



Gunjan Samtani—Co-head, Goldman Sachs Bengaluru

Principles, by Ray Dalio

This book provides a systematic approach to reflect and define principles to help make decisions in life and work, aligned with the cause-effect relationships. It successfully achieves the fusion of psychology, work cultures, personal values and neurosciences in the art of decision-making. The book cannot be run through in one or two sittings, it will be a continuous process to imbibe the learnings and apply them.

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

The book provides sagacious insight into the linkage of human beliefs, organizational cultures and personal blind spots that create and foster a world of silos, even in a more technology-driven interconnected world. The author has taken an unconventional, anthropologist's approach to highlight how far organizations are fragmented and the consequential perils. I liked the many enlivened case studies sprinkled in the book along with the practical advice how to break down the silos. 



Karen Seymour—Legal, New York

When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, by Daniel H. Pink

This book is a fascinating examination of the importance of the timing of our actions. We often focus on what we are doing and how we are doing, but rarely do we think about when we do things. This book will open your eyes to the importance of our calendar and will challenge you to think about the passage of time in a completely different way. Full of memorable studies from neuroscience to psychology, you will learn to see time as a tool and not just a scarce resource.

Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams, by Matthew Walker, PhD 

My family has accused me of becoming sleep obsessed after reading this book. I have to confess that I have never really thought much about sleep and secretly took pride in functioning on far too little. I have now learned about the importance of both the quantity and quality of our sleep on our overall health. This book will make you question why we are so obsessed with diets and exercise while we remain sleep deprived.




Nishi Somaiya—Securities, London

Shoe Dog, by Phil Knight

I love this book because it’s about having the courage of your convictions to pursue your dreams despite all the obstacles you might encounter. Phil’s story is about resilience, entrepreneurship, and sheds light on the journey to success in building one of the best known global brands in today’s world, Nike.



Meriel Vessey—Human Capital Management, Frankfurt

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke

This book is set in 1800s England. It starts out as a historic novel but at the heart of the story are two magicians intent on bringing back the dying art of magic. A retelling of British history with a twist, this book is a little bit weird and wonderful. A perfect read with a glass of wine as the nights draw in. At 800 pages, some might call it a labor of love but I think it’s worth it. Original and unique, storytelling at its best.

Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, by Jaron Lanier

I’d describe myself as more of a casual observer of social media than someone who has fully embraced it. But I have to say the topic has somewhat intrigued me. As a new parent what does it mean to raise children in this new era? What role does social media play in shaping our thoughts and opinions? How is your personal information stored and shared? These are some really thorny questions and I think we’re really just at the forefront of understanding how social media influences society. The title of the book gives away this author’s stance and it will certainly make you think twice before logging on and signing up. Interesting food for thought.



Joe Wall—Executive Office, Washington, D.C.

Beartown, by Fredrik Backman

Beartown is a fictional book about a rural working-class Swedish hockey town. The town’s social and economic identity is directly tied to the talented hockey club. Winning means everything to the community. The kids on the junior hockey team span the socioeconomic spectrum but are united around a culture of hard work, toughness and a winning-at-all-costs mentality. The moral compass of the hockey club and community is tested when a young girl is violently attacked at the height of the season. If you like Friday Night Lights, you will love this book.

What it Takes: The Way to the White House, by Richard Ben Cramer

I recently re-read Richard Ben Cramer’s incredible book regarding the 1988 presidential race. Cramer provides an in-depth look at each of the major candidates in the field. He brings to life their motivations, shortcomings and personal traits that helped propel them to seek the highest office. One of the candidates from the book, Joe Biden, could be making his third presidential bid in 2020. It is a must-read for political junkies.



Rana Yared—Securities, New York

Thirteen Days in September: The Dramatic Story of the Struggle for Peace, by Lawrence Wright

Written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright, the book recounts the 13 day in September 1978 during which President Carter, Menachem Begin, Anwar Sadat, Cyrus Vance, and their deputies met at Camp David to negotiate their landmark treaty. 

Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Americanha is a fictional story of a Nigerian born girl, Ifemelu, who after a fellowship at Princeton, returns to her native Nigeria. The story is told in flash backs between the present and her past, as she struggles with realizing her ambitions, immigration, and poverty.