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Books for the beach

18 July 2019

Looking for inspiration for your holidays? Our Investment experts share the books they are reading this summer.

Who's it for? All Investors

Our investment experts have raided their reading lists to share their favourite beach reads for your summer holiday.

There are plenty of genres to choose from – from political biographies, historical accounts, to self-help and fiction – there should be something for everyone.

Will Hobbs – Chief Investment Officer

Guns, germs and steel – Jared Diamond

By no means a new book, but a fascinating and still relevant study of why geography has played such an important role in the relative economic development of nations and regions. These ancient advantages gifted to residents of Europe were surely a large part of the story that allowed Pizarro’s tiny band of Spanish conquistadors to overcome an Inca force many times the size in the 16th century. Diamond re-examines European imperialism through a fresh lens - a perspective that many have riffed on since.

Clare Francis – Director of Savings and Investments

Your Retirement Salary – Richard Dyson and Richard Evans

As a single mum who works full-time, I don’t have as much time to read as I’d like and when I do, it tends to be novels. However, I’m reading a book about pensions at the moment. I’ll declare my interest in that one of the authors, Richard Dyson, is a friend - but it’s genuinely a really helpful book. It’s written by Richard Dyson and Richard Evans who are both financial journalists, and worked together at the Telegraph. They were inspired to write it on the back of the number of letters they received about pensions from readers. It aims to explain pensions, how they work in a simple way, which let’s face it, is no easy task. They do a great job. Many of us could be in rather a shock when we come to retire and realise our pensions and other investments won’t deliver the income we’d anticipated - but you can avoid that by genning up now. This book’s not a difficult read and I would put money on you definitely learning from it, so well worth adding to your list.

The Beekeeper’s Promise – Fiona Valpy

My other book choice is more akin to my normal reads. I read it on holiday recently and really enjoyed it. Set in a little village in France, it flits between the present day and the Second World War when it was occupied by the Nazis. Centred around an old chateau and mill that have been renovated and turned into a wedding venue, we learn about their history and the lives of some of the people who lived and worked there during the war. Having studied War Studies at university, I love historical novels, particularly those that give insight into what life was like during the major wars. And the other thing about this book is I’m now dreaming about whether or not turning a French chateau into a business could ever be a future career option for me…

Pete Brooks – Head of Behavioural Finance

Bounce - Matthew Syed

As dad to an amazing 4-year old I’ve recently reread this great book. Syed explores the myth of talent – that notion that our skills are somehow given to us at birth and if we aren’t very good at something, then we never will be. The point that impacted my parenting was that rewarding cleverness over effort can actually lower performance. Now I find myself thinking twice before I high five my son and say “clever boy!”

Unnatural Causes - Dr Richard Shepherd

My other pick is the fascinating account of life as a forensic pathologist. It wasn’t a morbid interest in death that made me read this, but rather, the wonderfully human account of what it is like to work with the deceased and the personal toll this has taken on Dr Shepherd as he investigated many of the most high profile cases.

Laura Shanks – Head of Proposition, Savings & Investments

Becoming – Michelle Obama

As a busy working mum I rarely get time to read during the week, so when on holiday it’s a real luxury to get stuck into a good book. This book was top of my reading list this summer. I bought the book expecting to glimpse ‘behind the scenes’ of Barack Obama’s presidency, and while it did deliver that, it also revealed so much more. For me, this was a refreshing insight into Michelle’s early life and the struggles she overcame to forge a successful career in the legal profession, and later balancing this with the demands of a family. She talks candidly about privilege and equal opportunities, managing to be uplifting and sobering at the same time. It’s ultimately about choices, sacrifice and reward – something I think we can all relate to.

How to Fail: Everything I’ve Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong – Elizabeth Day

This is a must-read for anyone who’s ever faced setbacks in life (and let’s face it, who hasn’t?). Elizabeth Day shares her own experiences of failing in school, relationships, work, fitting in; seamlessly weaving together personal anecdotes with words of wisdom on how to learn from mistakes. She argues that, rather than failures being a sign of weakness, they are actually the key to many of the successes we can go on to achieve in life. It’s not written as a lecture; it’s chatty, honest and feels almost autobiographical in its style. The book is packed with quotes taken from celebrities that Day interviewed for her podcast series of the same name, confirming that we’re not alone in failure, even the super-successful have made mistakes, and it’s how you deal with it that counts.

Mike Haslam – Head of Funds Distribution

Domestique: The Real-life Ups and Downs of a Tour Pro - Charly Wegelius

As a teenager in the 1980s, I was fixated by the Tour de France, where the names of Miguel Indurain, Greg LeMond and Pedro Delgado dominated. I have followed the Tour every year since, and have read countless books on the race, the riders and the teams. But while Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Chris Boardman describe aspiring feats of determination, dedication and courage leading to success, this book stands out as real life insight into the support riders behind the big names. Charly Wegelius was a ‘domestique’. These are riders within a cycling team that work just for the benefit of the team leader. They are not there to win, they even have no aspirations to win. They are there to help up the hills. To fetch the water bottles, food and clothing from the team support car and hand them out. They will give up their bike to the team leader if he/she crashes out. And they will turn up the pace of the race to disrupt or weaken rivals. They do not share the glory. They are selfless ‘worker ants’, whose sole purpose is to serve the team leader. In fact, the word ‘domestique’ in French means ‘servant’. It’s a cold and gritty insight; not an uplifting read, but it does remind me of the ‘domestiques’ in every part of life. The unknowns who help the winners win.

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