27 Jul 2023 7 min read

Our summer 2023 book recommendations


Stuck for something to read on the beach? LGIM staff from across the business share their picks, from an absurdist masterpiece to the inspiring tale of Elizabeth Zott.


Alyssa Ford, ESG Product Specialist

If you’re a fan of Sherlock Holmes but want to break away from the smog of Victorian London, head off to post-war Japan to join eccentric detective Kosuke Kindaichi on an intricate ‘whodunnit’ with twists and turns throughout a complicated family history. From missing statues to creepy soundtracks and jewel thieves, The Devil’s Flute Murders by Seishi Yokomizo weaves a delicate web of intrigue against the subdued backdrop of late 1940s Japan. An enjoyable page-turner, perfect for the airport, the beach, or the Central Line…

Angeli Benham, Senior Global ESG Manager

In The Hating Game by Sally Thorne, Lucy Hutton is a ‘nice girl’ waging war. She’s got the whole office on her side – except for tall, dark and charmless Joshua Templeman. He has been hostile since they met, and Lucy is hellbent on taking him down. Lucy cannot allow Joshua to beat her at anything, especially as there is a promotion in the wings. It’s an easy read, and funny. It’s also been made into a film, but it doesn’t do the book justice, in my view.  

Christopher Jeffery, Head of Inflation and Rates Strategy

I’ve been trying to read La Peste for a long time, and am hoping to make more progress over the summer. I’m not sure if it’s a subconscious post-COVID interest in pathogens, but it’s definitely been good for learning obscure medical French vocabulary. L’etranger is probably an easier way into Albert Camus, but I’m persevering nonetheless. Apparently, Camus is part of the Absurdist tradition. They believe that the universe is irrational and meaningless, and any attempt to find order in the chaos is futile and self-defeating. For investors constantly looking for patterns and predictability, Absurdism is an uncomfortable idea. But being philosophically challenged is never a bad thing.

For a more markets-relevant suggestion, you could do a lot worse than Adam Tooze. He’s an English historian at Columbia University who popularised the term ‘polycrisis’ to describe recent world events. Depressingly, he defines that as a set of crises which interact to create a problem greater than the sum of their parts. Over the summer, I’m going to try to do justice to Crashed: how a decade of financial crisis shook the world. He’s also recently published Shutdown: how COVID shook the world economy. For those who don’t have the appetite to wade through several hundred pages, I can highly recommend his online newsletter, Chartbook. That’s second only to the LGIM blog (obviously) as a source of high-frequency market-relevant opinion!

Clare Payn, Senior Global ESG & Diversity Manager

Two women. Two lives. One day that changes everything... Sam and Nisha should never have crossed paths. But after a bag mix-up at the gym, their lives become intertwined. Someone Else’s Shoes by JoJo Moyes is a fun and easy read with a deeper message that no woman is an island.

I also enjoyed Gallows Court by Martin Edwards, page-turner set in 1930s London following a spate of violent deaths that has horrified the capital. It’s tense, descriptive and a great read.

Corinne Lewis-Reynier, Head of Fixed Income Investment Specialists

I’d recommend An Officer and a Spy, by Robert Harris. This novel about the Dreyfus affair is a hugely suspenseful page-turner. It retells the story of the notorious case of injustice in 19th century France, but told from the point of view of Georges Picquart, the officer who dug out the truth. It’s a history book written in the style of a contemporary thriller, and perfect for the summer.

Emiel van den Heiligenberg, Head of Asset Allocation

I mentioned to a colleague that I have difficulty sleeping in the summer heat, and he recommended Breath by James Nestor. My first thought was that isn’t for me as it’s too ‘alternative’, but I decided to give it a go, and I can recommend it. Nestor explores the hidden science and history of ancient breathing practices to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it. It is an interesting read and provides simple ways to improve your breathing. I must admit it has improved my sleep as well.

For history and geopolitics buffs I can recommend The Peacemaker: Ronald Reagan, the Cold War, and the World on the Brink by William Inboden. Reagan is a fascinating figure: a former actor who began as Democrat, became a Republican and eventually took office as President. Drawing on newly declassified documents, the book provides a great insight in the inner workings of the Whitehouse – who is backstabbing who and how that impacts on global politics. In the end, it’s the results that matter, and the Reagan team developed the strategies that brought us to the brink of the Cold War’s peaceful conclusion and remade the world.

Fadi Zaher, Head of Index Solutions

The Courage to be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga is a guide to discovering the inner strength to embrace your authentic self, unleash your potential and cultivate lasting happiness. Drawing on the profound insights of Alfred Adler, a prominent figure in 19th-century psychology, alongside Freud and Jung, the authors illuminate the concept of personal freedom and its ability to shape our future with purpose and autonomy.

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus is set in the early 1960s and challenges what women can and cannot do according to the mores of the time. It follows Elizabeth Zott, a scientist who becomes the host of a cooking show on TV, which she uses to teach women science and above all gives them the courage to think differently and challenge the status quo. It is really quite funny: Zott is a little odd but also witty, smart and driven. She’s also somewhat unlucky. The book certainly makes you think and reflect.

Joshua Goodey, Graduate Analyst

In Stephen King’s The Outsider, detective Ralph Anderson leads the investigation to find a killer. Terry Maitland – the main suspect – is placed by multiple witnesses at the crime scene and there’s strong evidence implicating him as the killer. However, Terry has a concrete alibi, which presents Anderson with the dilemma of having the suspect in two places at once. The thing I like about this book is how it make you constantly adapt your prediction on the ending based on the new evidence that arrives chapter by chapter.

Karoline Herms, Senior Global ESG Manager

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn is easy to read at the beach. It’s resplendent with all the trappings of young adult fantasy novels, including love and friendship, magic and secret societies, knights and demons, and gore and trauma, across a wildly inclusive storyline. This caring story expounds the importance of friendship, self-discovery and cultural belonging.

Lewis Ashworth, Climate Specialist

The Secret Commonwealth by Phillip Pullman is the second volume of Phillip Pullman’s planned trilogy (The Book of Dust), which is set 20 years after the events of its prequel (La Belle Sauvage), and a decade after the conclusion of His Dark Materials. The setting is a world dominated by the Magisterium, an international theocracy that actively suppresses heresy. In this volume, after witnessing a murder, Lyra and Pan embark on a quest from Oxford to the desert of Karamakan in search of answers to the origins of the ‘rose oil’ noted in the deceased man’s journal. 

Lushan Sun, Private Credit Research Manager, Real Assets

My fiction pick is Squeeze Me by Carl Hiaasen. It’s a hilarious and surreal novel revolving around the mysterious disappearance of a wealthy, Trump-supporting socialite during a charity gala at Palm Beach. Never one to miss an opportunity to play to his base, President Trump immediately declares that the socialite was the victim of rampaging immigrants. This turns out to be far from the truth.

My non-fiction choices are The Prisoner of Geographies and The Power of Geographies, both by Tim Marshall. The first two books of this three-part series explore how geography defines the economic and social evolution of nations, and the important role it plays in geopolitical conflict. Why is Russia so suspicious of its Western neighbours? Why is Spanish politics so fragmented? It’s all down to geography.

Maria Larsson Ortino, Senior Global ESG Manager

When I first moved to London, one of my best friends had a copy of The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden, and she’d often make food following the recipes. A few months back I finally bought the book for myself. What I love about the cookbook is not so much the recipes, but the background and history behind each recipe. It’s a great read if you like food, cooking, history and anthropology.

Martin Reeves, Head of Global High Yield

My choice is The Essence of Money: Argentarius: Letters from a bank director to his son by Alfred Lansburgh. I found this the other day; a lovely book from over a century ago exploring the essence of money. It reminded me why students can write a different essay on the causes of inflation every year between the ages of 16 and 21. It was made more poignant to me as it is in the form of a series of letters from Lansburgh to his son James, also the name of my youngest.

Stephen Beer, Senior Manager – Sustainability & Responsibility

Life Time by Russell Foster is about the science of body clocks and sleep – how they interact and the effects on the rest of our health. Although advertised as a ‘how to’ book, it is written by a Professor of Circadian Neuroscience and the style is a bit like listening to a reassuring medical consultant. That’s just as well, as I’ve started it and occasionally feel like having a bit of a lie-down after reading a chapter. But it is very compelling.


LGIM contributors