Summer is a great time to explore, to unwind and experience the dolce far niente. Whether you are at the beach inhaling the ocean breeze, relaxing in a sun lounger by the pool, enjoying the fresh air of the mountain or sitting on a café’s terrace in Luxembourg, this is probably the perfect occasion to grab a book —or books— and catch up with your reading list.
The benefits of reading for pleasure during summertime are undeniable. Reading is truly a stress reliever, and after a demanding year, it can also be a form of self-care that we often overlook.
It goes without saying that, from a more academic point of view, reading helps us improve our grammar, comprehension and writing skills. But it also enhances our understanding of other cultures and our ability to make decisions. The perks don’t end there though.
Reading, especially fiction, can boost your creativity and emotional intelligence. Additionally, immersing yourself in fictional characters’ experiences and hence spending time in someone else’s shoes, can make you more open-minded and empathic.
It also increases brain power, forging cognitive engagement that is beneficial to things such as memory and brain function as we get older.
Last, but not least, no matter what you read, you are working on your self-improvement. As the saying goes, “readers are leaders,” and we couldn’t agree more. One of the best ways of life-long learning is to pick up a book and learn something new. Did we convince you? We hope so!
That’s why, dear readers, your PwC Luxembourg blog team puts together a summer reading list for you each and every year and very much enjoys the process (we also learn a lot).
As mentioned in part one, this year, we have recruited our 14 new partners to provide you with book recommendations for the summer of 2022. After all, they are leaders who are readers. Here are the last seven book recommendations, with a bonus recommendation from one partner.
Hunger in Paradise: How to Save Success from Failure by Rasmus Ankersen
The first good reason to opt for this book as a summer read is that the number of pages is reasonable! Jokes aside, I like the author and the messages he conveys through this book, which is about management bias.
Throughout it, the author reminds us to always challenge the status quo and reimagine the possible at all times!
Because complacency can be a real threat in big organisations. The book is easy to read, and contains good examples that demonstrate how to approach management bias.
The COVID-19 pandemic showed that we can all go though important management changes in a short time. Just think how the industry moved to remote working in a couple of days! That’s a great example that shows we can do it, so what are we waiting for to replicate this to other areas? Let’s not even mention climate change.
I wish you all a great summer break and reading — and take the time to rest and enjoy moments with your beloved ones!
Survivant des glaces (Ice Survivor) by Mike Horn
This book is well constructed and written, alternating adventure stories and reflections on Mike Horn’s childhood, his current commitments and the meaning of his quest for exploration.
I found it an inspiring story, as he and his teammate were ready to do anything to make the impossible possible and surpassing themselves, pushing the limits.
Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen
I recently read a new book by one of my favourite American writers, Jonathan Franzen. “Crossroads” is a family saga set during the 1970s and centres around the Hildebrandt family in the fictional small town of New Prospect, Illinois. It’s the first part of the intended trilogy and, honestly, I can’t wait for the rest.
In “Crossroads,” each chapter is told from the perspective of one of the family members. It allows the author to present this family’s story, at a pivotal moment of a crisis, with depth and sustained suspense. But also, and similarly to his previous works, with characteristic humour and complexity, just this time around with greater warmth.
I truly enjoyed reading this book, with its narrative rhythm, richness of characters and the depiction of the family at a crossroads. I think this novel can resonate with each of us. After all, we all have families.
Seven and A Half Lessons About the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett
I like to understand why we are like we are, how and why people interact with each other and their environments the way they do. I question a lot about our brain, how it works, the myth that we only use 10% of it, and how to unlock the remaining potential.
Lisa Barrett is a pioneer in neuroscience and one of the most provocative thinkers about the mind. This book was on my list for the past year. I read several reviews that said it was a great primer on the brain and a catalyst for reflection, where Barrett offers good ideas that could help us improve our lives. As Helen Mayberg, another neuroscientist, wrote in her book review: “It is a must read for anyone who has a brain”. So let’s discover together!
Atomic Habits by James Clear
We often hear the sentence, “People don’t change”. This book wants to prove that wrong. While it can be difficult to change your habits, the author explains that the problem isn’t you, but rather your system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals.
I highly recommend Atomic Habits if your goal during this summer is to learn how to improve yourself —whether as a team or as an individual— every day.
James Clear is one the world’s leading experts on habit formation. In his book, he shares practical strategies and tools that will reshape the way you think about progress and success and help you transform your habits.
Zero to One: Notes on Startups or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters
Peter Thiel is a serial US entrepreneur associated with the creation or funding of several famous US start-up and asset management companies, and foundations, such as PayPal, Facebook,, SpaceX, Airbnb, the Founder Fund or the Thiel Foundation.
Looking at his personal and professional path, I’m generally respectful of his courage, contrarian thinking and achievements. Blake Masters was a student of Peter Thiel at Stanford.
I recommend this book for the powerful questions raised in it and his inspiring answers, such as why technology is a condition for a peaceful and prosperous future? Why tomorrow’s leaders are contrarian persons able to go against prevailing opinions? And why can a small group of people with a common vision change the world far more surely and efficiently than large organisations?
If you are looking for energy and inspiration to successfully drive your personal or professional affairs through this rocky political, economic and social environment, then this book is for you.
Love inside the blood (L’Amour Dans le Sang) by Charlotte Valandrey
Charlotte Valandrey was a French actress and writer, who passed away on 13 July 2022 in France at the young age of 53.
This book is her best-selling autobiography where she publicly announced she had turned HIV-positive after a relationship with a drug-addict musician when she was nearly 18. She also explains her fight against the disease since then, including her need for heart-transplants, the difficulty to become a wife and mother and how it affected her career.
To be honest with you, I haven’t read this book yet and I hadn’t heard about Charlotte Valandrey before the news of her death hit the French newspapers headlines early this summer. Still, I read at the time several articles on her personal path and I was impressed by her dignity and courage for disclosing publicly her disease, but also to find the energy to move forward and become a wife, mother, actress and writer despite her ailment at a young age and her worsening health condition.
I agree this may sound like a sad story and it’s probably not what you want to read during summer but, if you are looking for a powerful example of what courage and women leadership actually mean, then I recommend you her book and I will do my best to do so too.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
I really love this book. It’s a gripping story from start to finish, perfect to read during summer.
The key message of this novel is that all people should live in the singular pursuit of their individual dreams, and obstacles are merely obstacles, not blockades.
Moreover, it explores the meaning of “living the dream” and encourages you not to delay the living of your legend, combining magic, mysticism, wisdom and wonder into an inspiring tale of self-discovery. A great life lesson, really inspiring!
We all have different reasons for reading. Some of us might want to immerse ourselves in fictional worlds to escape reality for a little while, or to just imagine and be marvelled by a realm completely different from ours.
Others prefer to read to learn new skills —be it soft skills such as leadership and time management, or more technical skills— or even to develop a hobby like gardening or hiking. And some read to learn and be inspired by the people they admire, or to absorb ideas they are interested in.
That said, no matter why and what you read, you are giving both your brain and yourself the chance to train to remember ideas and facts and to think in new ways, and to grow creatively and emotionally, respectively.
We hope these two blog entries are helpful and that you found some inspiring reads for the summer. Let us know in the comments section, we would be happy to hear from you! Meanwhile, the blog team is fully packed and ready for their well-deserved break during the month of August.
Don’t you worry, we will be back in September full of energy and determination to continue writing incisive articles on the hot topics moving the financial services world forward, which we hope you will enjoy.