The Book List: JPMorgan’s pick of the best reads for summer

Every Wednesday, Alex Johnson delves into a unique collection of titles

Alex Johnson
Tuesday 22 May 2018 20:05 BST
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The banking giant has been recommending literature to its clients since 1999
The banking giant has been recommending literature to its clients since 1999 (Alamy)

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The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future by Steve Case
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
From Silk to Silicon: The Story of Globalization Through Ten Extraordinary Lives by Jeffrey E Garten
Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant
The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time by Arianna Huffington
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
Map: Exploring the World by Phaidon Editors
Clementine: The Life of Mrs Winston Churchill by Sonia Purnell
The End of Average: How We Succeed in a World That Values Sameness by Todd Rose

The script of ‘Hamilton’ lands a spot on the firm’s list (Rex)
The script of ‘Hamilton’ lands a spot on the firm’s list (Rex) (Rex Features)

Releasing an annual reading list or running your own book club is becoming a de rigueur part of being a celebrity, not just among the literati but increasingly among businessmen too. Philanthropist and Microsoft founder Bill Gates is one of those who feels an urge to share his favourites, which in 2016 were:

The Grid by Gretchen Bakke
The Myth of the Strong Leader by Archie Brown
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee
String Theory by David Foster Wallace

Word on the street: Bill Gates regularly shares his literary favourites with the masses (AFP/Getty)
Word on the street: Bill Gates regularly shares his literary favourites with the masses (AFP/Getty) (AFP/Getty Images)

This differs slightly from his summer reading list, which included Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, How Not to be Wrong by Jordan Ellenberg and Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind by Yuval Noah Harari. The reasons for his choices are fairly straightforward. They are “simply ones that I loved, made me think in new ways, and kept me up reading long past when I should have gone to sleep”. Banking giant JPMorgan is so keen on reading lists that it has been producing an annual summer edition of its top 10 picks since 1999. The most recent titles – listed top – were whittled down from nearly 450 works of non-fiction nominated by staff from its offices around the world on the basis of timeliness, quality, author credentials, innovation and global appeal.

“We work with an incredibly dynamic and diverse group of clients and everything we do reflects that unique perspective,” says Darin Oduyoye, chief communications officer. “The summer reading list is our effort to extend the dialogue beyond the bread and butter of our business to help clients discover new ideas, new people and new thinking.”

Goldman Sachs has been offering something similar chosen by its managing directors and partners since 2015. Its “Back-to-School Reading List” offers autumnal recommendations “for every age and career stage”. Indeed, its chief executive Lloyd Blankfein once told an interviewer that younger readers would be better off reading history rather than economics books. “You can see that all these people who did really great things failed six times, or didn’t get going until they were much older,” he said. “I think that’s much more instructive and educational.”

Prime time: the life of Churchill is a source of inspiration for those at Goldman Sachs
Prime time: the life of Churchill is a source of inspiration for those at Goldman Sachs (Alamy)

GS tantalisingly releases its lists a bit at a time and they are considerably longer than JPMorgan’s. Here is its first one for 2016, offering a much wider mix of genres, while still including a Churchill. Only one title on its final longlist – which included Inverting the Pyramid: the History of Football Tactics by Jonathan Wilson – overlapped with JP Morgan’s, Angela Duckworth on Grit:

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Seinfeldia: How a Show about Nothing Changed Everything by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Churchill: A Life by Martin Gilbert
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Black Wealth, White Wealth: A New Perspective on Racial Inequality by Melvin L Oliver and Thomas Shapiro
The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail – But Some Don’t by Nate Silver
The Healthy Workplace by Leigh Stringer
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

‘A Book of Book Lists’ by Alex Johnson, £7.99, British Library Publishing

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