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Photo by Lennart Heim
Photo by Lennart Heim

For the second year running, the Altimapa team has put together a few lines on their choices for summer vacation reading. This year we combine an interest in history, mythology, tap dancing and, as may be expected, business. There is a strong preference for non-fiction, even more so than last year - maybe that reflects how the world is turning out to be stranger than fiction!

And so, without further delay, here is the Summer 2019 Altimapa Reading List...

Samantha, Altimapa's latest recruit, is reading Rocket Fuel by Gino Wickman and Marc C.Winters. The book covers some of the core challenges and abilities of businessmen and women. It characterises business owners as visionary or integrators, like a yin and yang. The book then gives clear advice on how best to work within your profile and when to delegate. Samantha finds this book so powerful because it emphasises the combination of visionary and integrator (like the oxidizing and reducing agents in the rocket fuel that gives the book its title) and how that combination can propel the business to new levels of success.

Aisha is enjoying Swing Time, a novel by the acclaimed Zadie Smith. The book is narrated by an unnamed author who wields intersecting anecdotes of her childhood and ‘mid-adulthood’. The author maps out her relationships with childhood friends, her mother and father as well as, her somewhat listless journey through the world. The listless aspect - which appears almost covert - is perhaps the most interesting aspect of the book. In addition, a wide variety of other themes are explored including race, politics, education, class, third world development and the concept of ‘saviorism’.

Maroun is working his way through Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, a favourite of last years list. It starts as a good anthropological essay on humans and their ancestors. It does a good job in charting the history of humans and how they interacted with the environment, including in some cases, the devastating effect they had on it . The author also presents his theory on what was the trigger that made us, sapiens, rise above our predecessors to become the dominant race of the planet. The last part of the book addresses a great number of questions that the human mind has struggled with, and he does so from a holistic perspective where the concepts of religion, politics and the self are put at the centre of our everyday lives. A good read, if not for the light-hearted, Maroun finds Sapiens an excellent book for the curious and open mind.

Hugo is reading Stephen Fry's Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold. He can think of nothing better when away from work than to listen to Stephen Fry narrate the tales of Greek mythology. From the birth of the universe to the resulting phrases and idioms still used today, Fry delivers an entertaining and witty approach throughout.

Peter Joseph, has chosen a somewhat edgier read with Pear Shaped by Adam Blain. With the unusual subtitle "The funniest book so far this year about brain cancer", the book gives an account of Blain's struggles after being diagnosed with late stage brain cancer in 2014. The book shows that it is possible to deal with even a truly awful event in a courageous and humurous way. It has a happy ending: against the odds, Blain is still coping remarkably well with adversity to this day!

Finally, Pedro is reading On Grand Strategy by John Lewis Gaddis. It is an entertaining, if sometimes disjointed journey through geopolitics, from ancient Persia to modern Iraq. It is more concerned with the how and why of what happened and less with the what. As we watch formerly sensible societies everywhere veering in dangerous directions, it seems timely to revisit the mistakes of past leaders (the great ones and the not so great ones!). Pedro is also enjoying The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. The book is written, to use the author’s words, as a fable. Given all the characters are people, there is probably a joke in there. Whatever its name, the style is a pleasant break from the “how-to” approach of most business books and seems to make the concepts more memorable than they would otherwise be.