What are ECI reading? Our reading list recommendations

Following on from the success of our ECI reading recommendations during lockdown, we thought why not make it a regular thing –good books are for life not just for lockdown! Find out more about what the team are reading this month:

Front cover of The Line of Beauty book and photograph of Hamish-Paget Brown

Hamish Paget-Brown

The Line of Beauty, by Alan Hollinghurst

I recently finished The Line of Beauty which I really enjoyed. It follows the story of a young, gay Oxford graduate finding his way in London through the 1980s. The novel doesn’t follow the usual plot of many coming-of-age stories and addresses many of the issues still rife in the world today such as race, homosexuality, addiction, politics, and privilege, set to the backdrop of the AIDS crisis. Despite the dark undertones, the book is highly emotionally charged and startlingly comic leading to it being awarded the Booker Prize in 2004. As an LGBTQ Oxford grad, there were many themes I found familiar and thought-provoking and would really recommend this book to anyone interested in this area of literature.

Hamish Paget-Brown

Front cover of Rebel Ideas book and photograph of Sean Whelan

Sean Whelan 

Rebel Ideas, by Matthew Syed

I was inspired to read Matthew’s book after he recently came to speak to our portfolio CEOs about the power of cognitive diversity. The book is packed with interesting case studies that demonstrate that power, and how diversity of ideas is a necessity when it comes to complex decision making. There are loads of great examples I could choose from, but one that stood out was when the secret service hired Stanley Sedgewick, a crossword competition winner, to go to Bletchley Park and help Turing crack the enigma code. Turing was a genius, but they realised multidimensional problems require different ways of thinking. A thought-provoking read that easily relates to how senior management might think about team build and how to avoid group think.

Sean Whelan

Front cover of Ben Stokes on fire book and photograph of Toby Fitzherbert

Toby Fitzherbert 

My Story of England’s Summer to Remember, by Ben Stokes

It’s been almost exactly a year since the Cricket World Cup last year, and I admit that I was getting very nostalgic for it when I was stuck at home and couldn’t (until recently!) watch any cricket. Ben Stokes’ book really reminded me how brilliant it was last summer, giving his behind the scenes account of what happened when he was the hero of England’s world cup win, most notably during the final, and then the Ashes when he singlehandedly won one match with a phenomenal performance. It’s a nice light read for any cricket fans who want to remember that fantastic summer of 2019!

Toby Fitzherbert

Front cover of Shogun book and photograph of Max Jackson

Max Jackson 

Shogun, by James Clavell

This novel follows John Blackthorne, the first English Pilot-Major to reach feudal Japan in the 17th century, and his transition from foreign prisoner all the way to samurai. It’s not a quick read, but well worth the time investment and does a fantastic job of contrasting the different cultures and providing sharp insight into what it was like to live in Japan at the time. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who made it to the Rugby World Cup last year or who is planning to attend the Olympics in 2021.

Max Jackson

Front cover of Exciting times book and photograph of Faye Maughan

Faye Maughan 

Exciting Times, by Naoise Dolan

I’ve really enjoyed reading Exciting Times, a novel about a 21 year old who leaves Ireland to become an English teacher in Hong Kong, set about two years ago. It’s a smart exploration of relationships, class and politics. The reason I liked it is the writing is really sharp, dry and well-observed. It’s a nice bit of escapism, a good read for a Sunday afternoon!

Faye Maughan

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