As schools start wrapping up and the temperature gauge climbs higher we find ourselves back once again in the wonderful season of summer vacation. Each year about this time I like to recommend some “beach reading ” materials for my connections who are traveling and hitting the beach (or “shore” depending on where you live). This year I asked a few of my book-savvy contacts to recommend some works that they’ve read or are going to read this summer. Take a look at these recommendations below.
Fooled by Randomness
By Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Recommended by Michael J. Discenza, Jr., CFO, GGE Investments Management LLC
The subtitle says it all “The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets. ” This is a very intriguing book in the way it discusses luck, skill, forecasts, probability, and decision making under conditions of uncertainty, and introduces concepts that are applicable to business, sports, parenting, coaching and life in general. Full of interesting literary, historical and philosophical references, it’s a rambling book that you can read from start to finish, or pick up any chapter and learn something new. It is also a book that I find myself going back to re-read certain chapters. The author is an excellent writer and keeps the narrative moving along.
Get Out of My Life…but first could you drive me and Cheryl to the mall? A Parent’s Guide to the New Teenager
By Anthony E. Wolf
Recommended by Robyn T. Mingle, Former SVP & CHRO, Xylem Inc.
As a busy executive, there are lots of important business books I should be reading. However, I’ve come to the conclusion that I may be a better executive (and stressing less) if I could crack the code on dealing more effectively with my two, often moody, less-than-communicative teenagers (15-year old twins). This book is extremely well written, provides practical, sage advice, and is exactly what I needed, although I wish I had read it two years earlier. Most definitely, I will be doing some things differently starting today (otherwise known as a confession that I’ve been doing some things wrong!). Although we were once teenagers, a current refresher in how to navigate these extremely important and influential years is well worth the time.
The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years
By Bernard Lewis
Recommended by Stephen Kaye, Investor & Board Member, Santier
I learned of this book from one of the Sunday morning political talk shows. It sparked my interest because this part of the world, and its history, is somewhat of an unknown to me, and to be sure, I’m no history buff. However, given the importance, and volatility, of the region, I felt it would be a good idea to upgrade my historical knowledge. Well, reader beware…this book is not for the casual reader. Furthermore, it’s no Cliff Notes version, despite the word “brief” in its title. It’s a very dense source of historical information on the past 2,000 years in the Middle East where the author quickly moves from period to period, regime to regime, and influence to influence. How it compares to other historical accounts, I don’t know; however, I’m a bit less than halfway through the book and have clearly learned a lot. Yet that learning has not come without some effort, confusion and re-reading required. So, if you want to learn more about the history of this rich region, this book will certainly help. If you want a quick synopsis (as if that’s possible), look elsewhere.
The Road To Character
By David Brooks
Recommended by John Hoey, President & CEO, The Y in Central Maryland
I just picked up David Brooks’s The Road to Character. I haven’t yet read it, but I have heard him talk about the book and have read some great reviews. I think this is the sort of book that is worth reading, and David Brooks is an author who never ceases to make me think. I don’t always agree with his views on every subject, but I always read his work and admire his ability to understand the deeper currents that drive both human motivation and our overall social construct.
To quote one review: “In The Road to Character, he (Brooks) focuses on the deeper values that should inform our lives. Responding to what he calls the culture of the Big Me, which emphasizes external success, Brooks challenges us, and himself, to rebalance the scales between our “resume virtue – ??achieving wealth, fame, and statu – ?and our “eulogy virtues, ” those that exist at the core of our being: kindness, bravery, honesty, or faithfulness, focusing on what kind of relationships we have formed. ?¨Looking to some of the world’s greatest thinkers and inspiring leaders, Brooks explores how, through internal struggle and a sense of their own limitations, they have built a strong inner character. Labor activist Frances Perkins understood the need to suppress parts of herself so that she could be an instrument in a larger cause. Dwight Eisenhower organized his life not around impulsive self-expression but considered self-restraint. Dorothy Day, a devout Catholic convert and champion of the poor, learned as a young woman the vocabulary of simplicity and surrender. Civil rights pioneers A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin learned reticence and the logic of self-discipline, the need to distrust oneself even while waging a noble crusade.”
What are you reading this summer? Leave a comment below and tell us what’s on your list.