At the FAI office, many conversations at staff lunches revolve around pop culture. From Mark quizzing us on classic rock trivia to Diana reviewing the latest Netflix rom-com, our team enjoys sharing media that we find compelling and enjoyable. This year, we want to share some of our favorites with you. In this blog, the FAI Staff each shares a book that we read this year.
As you will see, we are a serious bunch! Our list varies from academic to graphic novels, and literally the history of the world. We hope you can find something to add to your reading list this winter and find holiday gifts for friends, family, and colleagues.
Mark’s pick: Jim Collins Library
For 2022, I read or reread all of Jim Collin’s books. Jim’s most familiar book is Good to Great (2001) but he has written extensively on entrepreneurship, leadership, and business. Jim began his career as a teacher at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and went on to start a management laboratory in Boulder, Colorado. Jim uses his teaching ability and research to weave stories that put you in the office and board room of well-known companies and leaders as they reach key decisions.
Jim books are thoroughly researched and include Beyond Entrepreneurship (1992, and updated as BE 2.0 in 2020), Built to Last (1994), How the Mighty Fall (2009), Great By Choice (2011), and Turning the Flywheel (2019).
Curt’s pick: Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond
This book provides a comprehensive understanding of human history and development by segregating geographical and environmental factors that have shaped today’s global cultures and societies. It also sheds light on why individuals across the globe are very different, even though they all share similar DNA.
Drew’s pick: Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner
In this interesting read, Steven Levitt, an Economist, takes a look at economics from behavioral and incentive viewpoints. Journalist Stephen Dubner does a great job making the book an entertaining, easy read.
Skyler’s pick: Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment by Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph.D.
Dr. Ben-Shahar helps provide readers with the tools and exercises to help us all become happier. At a time when everything feels so negative in the world, the exercises and discussions in this book help me cut through that and remain optimistic for today and tomorrow.
Hope’s pick: Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
Through stories of resilience, Dr. Duckworth shares research about what drives people to succeed. She argues that achievement does not come from talent or genius, but from intentional perseverance – grit. I often turn back to the idea of grit when facing a setback. In the long run, it doesn’t matter if you fail; it matters if you get back up and try again.
Jacob’s pick: When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management by Roger Lowenstein
Lowenstein weaves a narrative that expertly navigates the secretive world of hedge funds, taking the reader on a journey through the inner workings of the academic powerhouse of the 1990s: Long-Term Capital Management. While technical at some points, the story warns us of the dangers of too much debt, and the perils of hubris in capital markets.
Beth’s pick: The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
Based on a true story rooted in America’s past, this historical fiction novel tells the story of the creation of the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky during the Depression, as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s traveling library program. The book is filled with funny light-hearted moments, as well as tense drama and suspense. It tells the stories of the people living in the back country of the Appalachian Mountains and the kindship of five women from different backgrounds as they a build community around literacy.
Diana’s pick: They Called Us Enemy by George Takei
This graphic memoir recounts George Takei's childhood imprisoned within American concentration camps during World War II. Takei tells his story from the perspective of his young self living through his family's internment. Although the story is very sad, Takei's story also shares moments of joy. One of my favorite parts of the story is about the sewing machine.
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