21 Jul 2022 4 min read

What we’re reading this summer

By Mireille Bensimon

Stuck for something to read on the beach? Members of the Asset Allocation team share book recommendations.


With the tumultuous events of the first half of the year having hijacked our spring, summer is now upon us. Suddenly, we find ourselves swapping shirts for swimsuits, boardrooms for deckchairs and the incessant news flow for the joys of long-form writing.

As neglected bookshelves finally get the attention they deserve, the Asset Allocation team is, as ever, on hand to provide some suggestions for books to enjoy during your summer breaks.

Secrets of success

First off is the head of the team, Emiel van den Heiligenberg, who, in his unceasing effort to discover the secrets of maintaining a high-performing team culture, recently read Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool. The book argues that almost all of us have the seeds of excellence within us, echoing similar sentiments from other books Emiel has enjoyed, such as Outliers: The Story of Success (Malcom Gladwell) and Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice (Matthew Syed). Each of these books reinforces his fundamental belief that you can accomplish almost anything if you are willing to work hard, stay humble and are constantly eager to improve.

Similarly thought-provoking is Global Emerging Market Economist Erik Lueth’s recommendation of The Tyranny of Merit: What’s Become of the Common Good? by Michael J Sandel, which offers an alternative way of thinking about success for those willing to step out of their comfort zone.

A masterclass in negotiation

In an effort to squeeze even more productivity out of his hectic schedule Head of Retail Multi-Asset Funds Justin Onuekwusi recently read The 5 Choices: The Path to Extraordinary Productivity by Kory Kogan. He also honed his negotiating skills by reading Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on it by Chris Voss.

Over in the other corner of the office, Head of Multi-Asset Funds John Roe joined a host of professional sportspeople in recommending The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Programme to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence and Happiness by Professor Steve Peters, which provides an accessible way of understanding how the different parts of your mind work, and how you can manage them to achieve success in life.

Lessons from history

Opting for some heavyweight economic history is Strategist Chris Jeffery, who plans to get stuck into former colleague Duncan Weldon’s Two Hundred Years of Muddling Through: The Surprising Story of Britain’s Economy from Boom to Bust and Back Again. Assistant Economist Matthew Rodger endorses Chris’s choice, considering the narrative to be both balanced and informative.

Sticking with history, Francis Chua recommends Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, which seeks to examine why some nations are rich and others poor, while Matthew Rodger also enjoyed The Bridge: Natural Gas in a Redivided Europe by Thane Gustafson, noting its relevance in current times.

Off the beaten track

Those preferring something more off-beat could follow Erik’s recommendation of Infinite Powers: The Story of Calculus by Steven Strogatz, which details how a mathematical breakthrough changed the world. Or they might enjoy our Asset Allocation quant intern, Sam Rawson’s, pick of The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll Through the Hidden Connections of the English Language by Mark Forsyth, a humorous look at the origin of words.  

Switching genres, I am planning to read Mother of Invention: How Good Ideas Get Ignored in a World Built for Men by Katrine Marçal, which examines how innovation can be stifled by pre-conceived ideas about gender stereotypes.

For those choosing to indulge in fiction on their travels, the team also has some recommendations. Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang is a selection of science fiction stories likely to stay with the reader for years to come, while Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi is a brutal, beautiful story spanning three continents and seven generations.

Books for all seasons

Holidays can also provide an opportunity to revisit the classics, such as East of Eden by John Steinbeck, which interweaves the story of two families in the Salinas Valley, California, between the US Civil War and World War I. I’ve recently enjoyed re-reading Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger and The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, both of which reminded me of how fiction can provide historical insights on a more personal level.

Whichever book you decide to take with you this summer, we wish you a restful and peaceful break.

Mireille Bensimon

Investment Analyst

Mireille works as an Investment Analyst for the team, researching equity funds for the Multi-Manager funds. Mireille originally qualified as an accountant, honing her analytical skills within the firm's finance team. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, writing and music.

Mireille Bensimon