Books for the Summer

09 July 2021

3 minute read

Our investment experts share some of their favourite books for the summer. From non-fiction to popular fiction, there should be something to satisfy all tastes.

Who's it for? All investors

The value of investments can fall as well as rise. You may get back less than you invest. Tax rules can change and their effects on you will depend on your individual circumstances.

If lockdown restrictions have put your holiday plans on hold, find some escapism with a gripping read from what our experts have been reading in lockdown.

Clare Francis – Barclays Director of Savings & Investments

The Boy, the mole, the fox and the horse – Charlie Mackesy

This is such a beautiful book – not one you read cover to cover, but one to dip in and out of. It’s almost a ‘thought for the day’ and I’ve found it quite therapeutic and helpful from a well-being perspective over the last year or so.

The illustrations alone are immediately calming and the words that accompany them make you pause, think, and just help put things into perspective – well they do me.

I’m not sure how Charlie Mackesy does it. He’s hugely talented and this is a book that will have a positive impact on your life. It’s also worth following him on Instagram too.

Sway: Unravelling Unconscious Bias – Pragya Agarwal

One of the reviews on the back cover of this book says: “If you think you don’t need to read this book, you really need to read this book” and I’d totally agree. It’s incredibly thought-provoking and extends far beyond the most common biases such as racism and sexism to explore a plethora of cognitive biases you may not even be aware of – hence the title – and the challenges unconscious bias presents to our lives.

Not only does it help you understand why we believe what we believe, cleverly making you think about what influences us and the way we think, but I came away from the book feeling better equipped to deal with, and manage, situations. I hope I’m now questioning myself more, trying to ensure that biases that inadvertently crept into my everyday life are kept at bay, or I’m at least more aware of them.

Will Hobbs – Chief Investment Officer, Barclays Investment Solutions

The Escape from Hunger and Premature Death, 1700 to 2100, Europe, America and the Third World – Robert William Fogel

The title may not leap out as a book begging to be read on your beach holiday. However, this is the Nobel Prize winning economic historian and scientist at his most persuasive and incisive. He convincingly documents humankind’s incredible progress over the last few hundred years, a period characterised by dramatic increases in life expectancy and broader living standards.

The unprecedented degree of control we have managed to exert over our environment has enabled “homo sapiens to increase its average body size by over 50 percent and its average longevity by more than 100 percent since 1800.” It is the exploration of why and what may be to come next that really makes this book well worth putting on your summer reading list, particularly in the context of the rolling global tragedy of the last year or so.

Mike Haslam – Head of Funds Distribution, Barclays Investment Solutions

The Rider – Tim Krabbé

When I was last asked to submit a book review, I chose a book from my burgeoning collection of cycling literature. I was surprised by the number of people with an interest in the subject who subsequently contacted me with their own recommendations. But nobody mentioned one of my favourites, and a book that is recognised as one of the very best ever written on the sport – The Rider, by Tim Krabbé.

The book is about a fictional bike race somewhere in France during a hot summer in the late 1970s. It describes every single mile of the race from the rider’s perspective, like a diary. From the mundane observations to the psychological tactics and pain going through the rider’s head. It captures the tension and excitement, but also drifts off into how the rider’s mind wanders during those long hours in the saddle…flashbacks to previous races, thoughts about the cycling legends, and wondering if they have enough food at home for dinner that night.

I have participated in many organised bike events over the years, but I have never properly raced. Every time I read this book, I can picture myself on that bike, in that race. And whenever I watch the Tour de France on the TV, I think about that book and think about what must be going through the riders’ minds – are they thinking about winning, or are they thinking about dinner? It’s a peculiar book, but absolutely brilliant.

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