It's time for a regular August tradition: when I take a break from talking about employee benefits and financial planning, and instead share my summer reading recommendations with you all.
This year's book list was, as you can imagine, written in somewhat different circumstances from the norm! My summer book list reflects the important reads of the time I spent in lockdown, longing for restaurants, travel and excitement.
The list also reflects the key issues of the lockdown period that I have read to educate myself about: how to manage remote working, and why Black Lives Matter.
My final book is a very special one that was published right at the start of lockdown on 31st March, which meant I was unable to attend the book launch!
Last year my wife and I spent a week in Provence cycling and eating our way round the region and this book has helped recreate these memories throughout the lockdown period, escape the boredom and build a fresh set of plans in my mind. Felicity Cloake, who is the author of the Guardian's How to Make the Perfect… column and the New Statesman's food column, describes her very own Tour de France, cycling 2,300km across France in search of culinary perfection; from Tarte Tatin to Cassoulet via Poule au Pot, and Tartiflette. Each of the 21 ‘stages’ concludes with Felicity putting this new-found knowledge to good use in a fresh and definitive recipe for each dish, a real love letter to France.
My holiday plans to visit Mumbai and Goa in the Autumn have been cancelled. To help with the disappointment I turned to this book which describes the journey of Monisha as she returns to India to reacquaint herself with the country after a twenty year break.
Monisha takes inspiration from Jules Verne’s classic by travelling round India in 80 trains, covering 40,000km. Her journey takes her on toy trains, luxury trains and Mumbai’s commuter trains which make up the lifelines across India that keep the country alive. I’m not a train geek but in this book, there are wonderful descriptions of the life and people of India: not quite my planned holiday but the best I could manage.
In early April, as we all started to work from home, Chris Preston invited me onto his podcast to discuss issues around managing an age-diverse workforce during the lockdown. This prompted me to read his book about remote working. The book is a collage of everything to do with remote working, covering culture, motivation, habits, finding focus and the emotional rollercoaster that is working from home. It has sat on my desk over the last few months and I have picked it up every day to help me look for new inspiration to help achieve a successful day in difficult circumstances.
I was shocked and horrified by the death of George Floyd on 25th May, but I found the subsequent Black Lives Matter movement incredibly powerful and I hope a real turning point for our society. However, the conversation over the following month made me realise how naive my own perspective has been, so I reached for this book to help me understand the impact of history, social systems and the black perspective. This book must be read before anyone can join the discussion about the future of society.
I was obviously disappointed back at the end of March not to be hosting the launch event for my own book, but the lockdown meant that we moved online for launch and achieved Amazon best seller status over the launch weekend, something that provided some consolation for the lack of wine and canapés.
The idea of a midlife review is starting to gain traction in businesses as the mechanism to stimulate a conversation between employers and employees about next steps, second careers and flexible career solutions.
My book is the first to unite current research with interviews from experts in their field and suggests practical ways in which SMEs can retain skills and experience in their business. It also explains to employees what they need to reflect upon to make the most of the next stage in their career.
Topics: Just for fun