09 Jul 2024 4 min read

Is your summer reading list ready?

By Mireille Bensimon

With long, sunny days in prospect, members of our Asset Allocation team share their thoughts on some of the best books around to liven up any summer break.


Summer. Birdsong and daises. Early morning light seeping through curtains. The sounds of Wimbledon on a television in the background. Al fresco lunch. Beer, football, crowded bars and the impending fear of a penalty shoot-out. Strawberries and cream. Longer evenings inviting carefree attitudes towards rest. And, most importantly, the prospect of some much-needed holiday time to be spent on reading and listening… so what books and podcasts would your Asset Allocation team recommend to accompany you on your precious summer respites this year?

Keeping his eye unwaveringly on the political landscape, team head Emiel recommends How Democracies Die: What History Reveals About Our Future by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, which touches on how democracies can perish in the hands of elected officials, rather than through revolution. In Erik’s recommendation of Homelands: A Personal History of Europe, author and historian Timothy Garton Ash draws on eye-witness accounts and his own personal encounters with some of the key figures of the post-war era to bring European history to life.

For those who enjoy spy stories, Nicola recommends Agent Sonya in which Ben Macintyre tells the true story of the Soviet Union’s most successful female secret agent, who lived undercover as a wife and mother in a quiet Cotswolds village during the Cold War. Different but certainly no less exciting would be James’ suggestion of Material World: A Substantial Story of our Past and Future by Ed Conway, which provides a fascinating insight into how six materials (sand, salt, iron, copper, oil and lithium) have shaped our history and continue to affect present day geopolitics.

And for those who wish to use their holidays sharpening their investor knowledge, Michael suggests The Joys of Compounding – The Passionate Pursuit of Lifelong Learning by Gautam Baid, with the author endeavoring to provide a deeper understanding of the history and strategies of value investing.

If you wish to use your time off advancing along your path of continuous self-improvement, Chris T recommends delving in to Atomic Habits by James Clear, which promotes the compounding effects of changing a raft of small habits in your life to create major outcomes,  as well as Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman, which explores our relationship with time – 4,000 weeks being the average lifespan – to remind us to prioritise the present moment.

Holly found The Secret by Rhonda Byrne to be a motivational read, with the author promoting how a positive mindset can help us achieve our desired successes, and Ryan enjoyed How to Know a Person by David Brooks, which he considers to be a beautifully written guide to using our curiosity about others to help form deeper connections and hold more meaningful conversations. The Culture Map by Erin Meyer aims to decode cultural differences, which Francis found an enlightening guide to help manage relationships both in and out of the workplace!

If a long car journey awaits you, I would suggest your time would be well spent listening to Karen Brady talking entrepreneurship in her conversation with Steven Bartlett in his Diary of a CEO podcast, where Karen suggests the secret to growing and running a successful business comes from a work culture which allows trust, honesty and candid conversations, and one where people are encouraged to think differently and actively challenge. In her role as CEO, she cites a belief in lifelong learning and an environment where staff can join discussions without the fear of consequences.

Turning away from non-fiction, as a man who spends an inordinate amount of time considering what could go wrong, Chris J recommends Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke, a science-fiction classic which features the benign takeover of planet Earth, while Nicola enjoyed The Silence of the Girls and The Women of Troy by Pat Barker, which re-tell the stories of Achilles and the Trojan war from a female perspective.

Two impassioned reads recommended by Erik are The Birds by Tarjei Vesaas, the heart-wrenching story of young man with disabilities who lives with his sister in the Norwegian countryside, and Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, a multi-generational novel about two sisters from Ghana, one sold into slavery, the other one married to a slave trader.

Driving holidays always provide the opportunity for a catch up on some podcasts, and if you manage to tear yourself away from continually re-listening to LGIM Talks: How to Pick a Fund Manager, Aimee suggests that long-running BBC Radio 4 show Desert Island Discs always provides some great insights into a person’s life and personality, with one of her favourite episodes being Nile Rogers.

Plenty of words and voices to keep you both enraptured and entertained on your holidays this summer. Enjoy!

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