As everyone knows, Autumn is reading season. It’s time to cancel your plans, get yourself a hot drink, and curl up with a good book! Here is what the ECI team are reading this October:
Jin Ni Ooi
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
Whether you are a fan of Apple, or just intrigued by Steve Job’s innovation and achievements, this is a recommended read. Written by Walter Isaacson, this book provides an intimate and detailed look into the life of one of the most influential figures in technology. It delves deep into Jobs’ innovative mindset, his relentless pursuit of excellence, and the challenges he faced while building Apple Inc. He laid the foundation of what is now the biggest tech brand in the world. But more than just a business story, the biography offers valuable insights into his creativity, leadership style, and the impact he had on shaping the modern tech industry. Whether you’re interested in technology, entrepreneurship, or simply a compelling life story, this biography is a must-read that will inspire and captivate you from beginning to end.
Beloved by Toni Morrison
I picked up this Toni Morrison classic on account of its multiple mentions in Christina Sharpe’s “Ordinary Notes” (which I would also recommend if I was allowed to submit two recommendations to this list!). It follows the story of a formerly enslaved woman, Sethe, as she attempts to escape her past and build a good life for her children. The story is set across multiple time periods and slowly reveals details about the family that sheds new light on their circumstances. It’s incredibly gripping and beautifully written. Morrison has a real knack for distilling human emotions and seemingly indescribable feelings into simple, delicate prose. I found myself wanting to underline sentences and bookmark paragraphs so that I could come back to them at a later date. Very much deserving of its status as one of the great American classics, and despite bringing me to tears multiple times, something I look forward to reading again in the future.
Material World by Ed Conway
This is a fascinating book exploring how certain key elements have played such a significant role in human history. Material World looks at how a few substances – namely, sand, salt, iron, copper, oil and lithium – have been at the core of the development of human civilisation as we know it today and will become ever more important in our future. Ed Conway looks at how these substances are mined and processed and how much influence they have on our day to day lives, from the tech we use to the medicines we take. Examples include the intriguing situation of how Germany ended up supplying optical glass, a key technology of its day, to both sides in the Battle of Jutland in WW1. He also looks at the role these elements have as we wrestle with climate change and how the sourcing of the most valuable and pure elements impacts the geopolitics of today. Living in Western Europe and working as an investor, I found it intriguing to consider the materials and their huge supply chains that support the service-focused and digital economies we exist in day to day.
I’m a Fan by Sheena Patel
Having recently been on holiday, I’d recommend this book for anyone who is heading off and wants a short, sharp read. The book is about one person’s experience of a seemingly corrosive relationship, through the lens of dating in a social media obsessed world where connections can be hard to find. It is short, frantic prose but quite funny and well-observed, particularly about human behaviour when it comes to unequal power and modern dating. A very impressive debut that has been nominated for lots of awards and am keen to see what Patel writes in the future!
Bad Actors by Mick Herron
Although this books title sounds like some form of cyber security breach it is a contemporary spy thriller and part of the Slough House series of novels. There is nothing glamorous about Jackson Lamb and his MI5 rejects referred to as the ‘Slow Horses’, they are a form of anti-Bond. They have been expelled from MI5 for a variety of sins and exist in a state of purgatory at Slough House (London’s Aldersgate Street near the Barbican Tube station) but still acting within British intelligence. Bad Actors is about the eighth or ninth of the Slow Horses series and if you want some serious espionage escapism then look no further. This novel is set against the backdrop of a (thinly veiled) Johnson/Cummings premiership and involves some Russian involvement in the form of a super forecasting guru who has the ear of the PM’s Chief Advisor. The Slow Horses under the leadership of Jackson Lamb – rude, dishevelled and often drunk – are on the trail following her disappearance. What can I say, this is a perfect detox after a year of fundraising!