With holidays restarting and sunshine back again, we asked the ECI team what books they’re looking to read this spring:
Jin Ni Ooi
Norwegian Wood, by Haruki Murakami
This is a masterpiece. Written by the surrealist Japanese author Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood follows the formative years of protagonist Toru Watanabe in 1960s Japan as a young college student in Tokyo. He struggles with relationships, choices, life, and death, in some ways almost like a modern-day Hamlet. It’s a tale of friendship, love, loss, and grief; in equal measure witty and charming on the one hand, and tragic and disturbing on the other. I also recommend listening to the Beatles’ song (for which the book was named) to round out the experience!
This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends: The Cyberweapons Arms Race, by Nicole Perlroth
Cyber risk is something we spend quite a lot of time focusing on at ECI, and the capabilities and activities of state actors in the space is something I find fascinating, particularly given the current global political context. I listen to it as an audiobook – usually when out jogging – and have found it a fascinating account of how the global zero-day market works, the trade-off government agencies face in deciding what to do with vulnerabilities (report or leverage), and the scale of international cyber activity. All quite scary, but well worth a read (or listen)!
The Chimp Paradox, by Steve Peters
The Chimp Paradox is one of those titles I’ve heard being thrown around for years so this month, I finally picked it up and I can see why it is so popular! Based on The Chimp Mind Management Model – a programme that looks to increase your happiness and subsequent success – Professor Steve Peters discusses the inner workings of the human brain via a multitude of analogies, scientific research and principles. The book gave me some useful frameworks to recognise both the rational and emotional responses to situations, showing how my own ‘chimp’ can be carefully managed to keep me travelling in the right direction.
Hotel du Lac, by Anita Brookner
This book, a winner of the Booker Prize in 1984, is the story of a woman in a slightly fading hotel at the end of the summer. The protagonist, Edith, has been banished to the hotel by her friends after an affair with a married man and an aborted marriage, and the reader is witness to her half-life, split between the escapism of the romantic novels she is writing and her compromised affair with the married man, David, she is still in love with. It was a contentious winner back in 1984, but I’ve enjoyed the shift between how claustrophobic it feels at the start to how the novel comes to life as she meets the fellow guests and describes their interactions in letters to David. The characters and the tight dialogue give it a restrained elegance.
The Battle for the Falklands, by Max Hastings and Simon Jenkins
Ahead of the Falklands Conflict’s 40th anniversary this year, I wanted to read an interesting and thorough account of it, and this book did that brilliantly. It combined both fascinating insights into the tactical and logistical challenges faced in fighting an isolated conflict 8,000 miles away in mid-winter, but also the backdrop of the diplomatic and political inconsistencies on both sides that preceded the conflict and, in some ways, led to it. A creative plan that wasn’t wholly expected to be called upon; this book gives you a great understanding as to how it was executed in the air, sea and on land in the face of adversity.