The Reading Room

Each month a member of the team reviews a book of their choosing, irrelevant of genre or publishing date.

The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes – And Why

Amanda Ripley

Published: 2009, Harmony

In life, some of us will have to make split-second choices to save ourselves and our families. How will we react? What will it feel like? Will we be heroes or victims?

In her quest to answer these questions, award-winning journalist Amanda Ripley traces human responses to some of recent history’s epic disasters.

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Investing: The Last Liberal Art

Robert G. Hagstrom

Published: 2013, Columbia Business School Publishing

Robert G. Hagstrom is one of the best-known authors of investment books for general audiences. In this book, he explores basic and fundamental investing concepts in a range of fields outside of economics, including physics, biology, sociology, psychology, philosophy, and literature.

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What I Learned about Investing from Darwin

Pulak Prasad

Published: 2023, Columbia University Press

Pulak Prasad offers a philosophy of patient long-term investing based on an unexpected source: evolutionary biology. He draws key lessons from core Darwinian concepts, mixing vivid examples from the natural world with compelling stories of good and bad investing decisions—including his own

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A Northern Wind: Britain 1962-65

David Kynaston

Published: 2023, Bloomsbury Publishing

A Northern Wind brings to vivid life the period between October 1962 and February 1965 in Britain. With masterful storytelling refreshing familiar events, this reveals in all their variety, the experiences of the people living through this history.

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Lessons in Chemistry

Bonnie Garmus

Published: 2022, Doubleday; Penguin.

Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing.
But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute take a very unscientific view of equality. Forced to resign, she reluctantly signs on as the host of a cooking show, Supper at Six. But her revolutionary approach to cooking, fuelled by scientific and rational commentary, grabs the attention of a nation.

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A Book of Simple Living

Ruskin Bond

Published: 2015, Speaking Tiger Publishing Private Limited

This personal diary records the many small moments that constitute a life of harmony-with the self, the natural world, and friends, family and passersby. ‘A Book of Simple Living’ is a gift of beauty and wisdom from India’s most loved, and most understated, writer.

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The Practicing Mind

Thomas M. Sterner

Published: 2006, New World Library

We’ve all learned many skills through practice; we’ve just forgotten how. Everything we learn and master in life, from walking and tying our shoes to saving money and raising a child, is accomplished through a form of practice. This book shows readers that when they reside in the present moment, practice becomes effortless and enjoyable, and often the practice becomes the goal.

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How to Decide

Annie Duke

Published: 2020, Penguin Random House LLC

“How to Decide” by Annie Duke is a book that teaches readers how to make better decisions. The book provides a framework for making decisions that take into account the uncertainty and complexity of real-world situations. It also includes practical advice on how to avoid common decision-making pitfalls and how to think more clearly about the choices we face.

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When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long Term Capital Management

Roger Lowenstein

Published: 2011, Random House Trade Paperback Edition

As the title suggests, this book encapsulates the entire journey of Long-Term Capital Management (LTCM). LTCM was a highly leveraged hedge fund, founded by John Meriwether, which collapsed in 1998 and had to be rescued by a consortium of 14 banks orchestrated by Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Roger Lowenstein has not just detailed LTCM’s life, but also captured very beautifully the nature and inner workings of its founders and the key team.

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Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order: Why Nations Succeed and Fail

Ray Dalio

Published: 2021, Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster

Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order examines history’s most turbulent economic and political periods to reveal why the times ahead will likely be radically different from those we’ve experienced in our lifetimes and to offer practical advice on how to navigate them.

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Africa Is Not A Country: Breaking Stereotypes of Modern Africa

Dipo Faloyin

Published: 2022, Vintage Publishing

Brimming with humour and intellect, Faloyin’s fascinating volume mines the rich and varied span of histories and cultures of the continent’s many countries, delivering a punchy corrective against lazy sterotypes of Africa.

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Chums: How a Tiny Caste of Oxford Tories Took Over the UK

Simon Kuper

Published: Published: 2022, Profile Books

The lack of academic effort generally put in by Oxford undergraduates is an important theme running through this book, penned by Financial Times columnist Kuper. It links this work-shy attitude to the centuries’ old dominance of Oxford by the top English public schools spawning “top tory toffs with a born to rule attitude”.

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What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars

Jim Paul and Brendan Moynihan

Published: 2013, Columbia Business School Publishing

Jim Paul’s meteoric rise took him from a small town to governor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, yet he lost it all in one fatal attack of excessive economic hubris. In this honest, frank analysis, Paul and Moynihan revisit the events and examine the psychological factors behind bad financial practices in several economic sectors.

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The Outsiders

William M. Thorndike Jr

Published: 2012, Harvard Business Review Press

The Outsiders chronicles the unconventional techniques that led eight CEOs to outperform the S&P 500 by an astounding twenty times.

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Shackleton’s Boat Journey

F.A. Worsley

Published: 1933, Philip Allan & Co. Ltd

On August 1, 1914, on the eve of World War I, Sir Ernest Shackleton and his hand-picked crew embarked in HMS Endurance from London’s West India Dock, for an expedition to the Antarctic. It was to turn into one of the most breathtaking survival stories of all time.

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The Most Important Thing – Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor

Howard Marks

Published: 2011, Columbia University Press

Informed by a lifetime of experience and study, The Most Important Thing explains the keys to successful investment and the pitfalls that can destroy capital or ruin a career.

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Atomic Habits

James Clear

Published: 2018, Random House Business

People think that when you want to change your life, you need to think big. But world-renowned habits expert James Clear has discovered another way. He knows that real change comes from the compound effect of hundreds of small decisions: doing two push-ups a day, waking up five minutes early, or holding a single short phone call.

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Boom and Bust: A Global History of Financial Bubbles

William Quinn & John D Turner

Published: 2020, Cambridge University Press

The avoidance of buying into the peak of booms and selling at the bottom of a bust is one of key skills of any investor. But what causes them? This book attempts to answer that question by a close analysis of historical market manias.

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The Election That Changed India

Rajdeep Sardesai

Published: 2014

The 2014 Indian general election has been regarded as the most important in Indian history since 1977, following Indira Gandhi’s imposed state of emergency in 1975.

It starts in 2012, when Narendra Modi won the Gujarat state elections for a third time, but quickly set sights on the bigger prize, then covers the scandals that crippled UPA-II (United Progressive Alliance, the ruling coalition), before moving to the strategies of team Modi, and the extraordinary missteps of Rahul Gandhi.

 

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Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Colin Freeman

Published: 2021

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is a narrative of tragedy, extreme hardship, and bravery. Using first-hand accounts taken from the survivors, Freeman tells the story of 3 cargo ships and their crews kidnapped by Somali pirates and held hostage for five years, and in some cases longer.

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