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Each year, we curate a list of some of our favorite book and podcast suggestions. We hope our 2021 recommendations offer insights and entertainment as we look to the second half of the year.
by Sam Sifton
Over the last 12 months, I have greatly enjoyed this newsletter by the food editor of The New York Times. While his recipe suggestions were helpful as I attempted to ramp up my cooking during the COVID lockdown, I can’t say I followed them with any rigor. What kept me subscribed were the interesting (and only occasionally food-related) articles referenced at the end of each note. Among the discoveries I never would have otherwise made: a fascinating (if obscure) examination of the great bucatini shortage of 2020; an oral history of the soundtrack to the TV series Freaks and Geeks; and, above all, this funny and poignant account of living in the heart of midtown Manhattan before and during the pandemic. His Pollo en Fricasé was also a huge hit.
Suggested by: Adam Berger, CFA, Multi-Asset Strategist and Portfolio Manager, Boston
by Sir Ronald Cohen
In this book, Sir Ronald Cohen (a successful venture capitalist who is also widely considered the “father of impact investing”) shares his perspective on why capital markets must evolve to focus on three dimensions: risk, return, and impact. In doing so, he references established economic and financial theory and uses case studies to bring impact analysis to life.
Suggested by: Wendy Cromwell, CFA, Vice Chair, Head of Sustainable Investment, Boston
by Tim Grover
The author was the lead trainer to some of the greatest athletes and winners of all time — including Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. As an athlete myself, and somebody who is constantly questioning our environment and my own strategies, I found his approach to addressing what it takes to achieve greatness refreshing. It’s not a self-help book — but rather a blueprint (through tough love) — allowing you to look deep within yourself to discover what you are capable of — especially if you want to be the best at whatever you do.
by Anna Malaika Tubbs
The evolving social and political history of the civil rights movement in America is deeply complex. This book interweaves the historically undocumented stories of the women who raised three of our country’s most notable civil rights leaders. It is an essential celebration of Black women and motherhood — a very timely and important depiction that illuminates these influential women.
Both suggested by: Jackson Cummings, Head of Diverse Ventures, San Francisco
by Satya Nadella, Greg Shaw, Jill Tracie Nichols
I recently read this great book about Nadella’s personal journey from growing up in India to becoming the CEO of Microsoft. He shares the lessons he learned along the way that have helped drive change within the company. I particularly enjoyed learning about his cricket passion and how it helped shape his views on teamwork and leadership. Nadella’s perspective on the importance of purpose and empathy for creating harmony and driving innovation within organisations is inspirational. The book is an enjoyable, quick read that is full of insights, motivation, and management lessons to reflect upon.
Suggested by: Liliana Dearth, Equity Portfolio Manager, Singapore
by Dambisa Moyo
Moyo provides an insider’s view into today’s corporate boardroom — a place that we as shareholders have to assess from the outside — and the challenges board directors face as they attempt to balance sometimes competing stakeholder agendas. I particularly enjoyed how she highlights the importance of ethics and values in a company’s leadership, even recommending that future corporate boards consider establishing a dedicated committee to address the increasing number of ethical dilemmas companies encounter.
Suggested by: Hillary Flynn, Director of ESG, Private Investments, Boston
Book — Americana: A 400-Year History of American Capitalism
by Bhu Srinivasan
This fascinating book covers 400 years of American economic development. It’s an interesting read that offers a unique perspective on boom/bust cycles, the personalities involved, and some of the unfortunate externalities of growth.
Book — The New Class War: Saving Democracy from the Managerial Elite
by Michael Lind
This book does a masterful job of chronicling the divisions that currently exist within many Western democracies. While numerous scholars have tended to focus on left-right divisions as the root cause of the currently divisive political climate, Lind instead highlights the key differences in beliefs between the elites who run most political/economic institutions and the majority of the population.
Podcast — EconTalk
by Russ Roberts
Russ Roberts’ podcast is an open-minded and wide-ranging series of interviews with experts on fields related to economics, finance, political theory, and philosophy. He interviews Nobel Prize winners, policymakers, academics, and practitioners on everything from cryptocurrency to Adam Smith’s view of the world, to monetary policy and even the economics of happiness. There are already over 700 episodes, with a new one every week. After more than 13 years of listening to Russ, I’m not ready to stop anytime soon. Each week, I learn something new and useful for my career, my personal life, or my role as a citizen of the world.
Book — Klara and the Sun
by Kazuo Ishiguro
The novel is about Klara, a solar-powered Artificial Friend whose mission is to understand the human heart, and her truly devoted relationship with her teenage owner, Josie. Across 300 pages we follow Klara’s mission — it’s a dazzling journey about love, sacrifice, and forgiveness. I read this as a philosophy book about the deep flaws of the human heart and for our own chaotic moment when our lives seem less real, more vulnerable, and more reliant on our technology than ever. Try the printed version that comes with a beautiful sun-orange cover symbolising never-ending hope as depicted in the novel.
Podcast — Freakonomics
by Stephen Dubner
This podcast takes fascinating dives into topical and random subjects, breaking them down into their core elements. It’s the perfect balance of depth and time commitment, with each episode spanning only 30 to 40 minutes.
Book — Educated
by Tara Westover
This is a remarkable true story about a girl growing up in middle America, in a family that doesn’t believe in modern medicine or schooling. Against all odds, she studies her way to college and gets a PhD at Cambridge University. It’s a story of perseverance, curiosity, strength, and the power of education.