What they’re reading at JPMorgan
Started as a way to stay in touch with vacationing clients, the list of books was selected from a pool of 450 recommendations from the bank’s employees
There is no shortage of summer reading lists. Bill Gates has one. So do Stanford University, Harper’s Bazaar and Craft Beer & Brewing magazine. And here’s one more to add to the mix: JPMorgan Chase’s 18th annual lineup of nonfiction books to delve into this summer
The list, which began as a way to stay in touch with vacationing clients, was selected from a pool of 450 recommendations from the bank’s employees.
“This year’s selections,” said Darin Oduyoye, chief communications officer for JPMorgan Asset & Wealth Management, “are diverse and thought-provoking nonfiction titles, reflecting the passions and causes our global client base care about most.”
“Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet”
By Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope
After the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, a number of city and state governments have stepped up to fight climate change on their own terms.
In their new book, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and environmentalist Carl Pope argue that cities, corporations and individual Americans may be best equipped to inspire change by taking small steps such as adding bicycle lanes and switching to clean-energy technologies.
“The changing climate,” the authors write, “should be seen as a series of discrete, manageable problems that can be attacked from all angles simultaneously. Each problem has a solution.”
“Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction” By Derek Thompson “Going viral” may have become the pop culture holy grail, but Thompson says it is no accident which songs, products, movies and ideas soar to the top of the charts and which fizzle out.
Instead, popular hits, from Johannes Brahm’s lullaby to One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful” are often the product of years of deliberate planning, careful execution and a few lucky breaks, says Thompson, a senior editor at the Atlantic.
“There is a way for people to engineer hits,” he writes, “and, equally important, a way for other people to know when popularity is being engineered.”
To make his point, Thompson delves into the history of Instagram, talks with President Barack Obama’s speechwriters, and explains how a fifth-grader helped catapult “Rock Around the Clock” from a disappointing flop to one of rock-and-roll’s biggest hits.
“Content might be king,” he writes, “but distribution is the kingdom.”
“Madame President: The Extraordinary Journey of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf ” By Helene Cooper This biography of the first woman to be elected president of an African nation tells the story of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who overcame great obstacles, and Liberia, the country she helped rebuild.
“In the ultimate irony, Liberia, long viewed as one of the most godforsaken countries on a godforsaken continent, was now an example of democratic empowerment,” writes Cooper, a Liberiaborn, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the New York Times.
Soon after she was elected president in 2005, Sirleaf worked quickly to get $4.7 billion in Liberia’s foreign debt forgiven by the international community.
“Cooper expertly dissects the tangled financial situation, pointing out that its resolution was vital to the country’s very existence,” The Washington Post wrote in a review of the book earlier this year. “Throughout, she offers an unflinching look at the reserved Sirleaf’s personal life and presidency, which comes to an end this year, while also telling of Liberia’s pain and pride.”
“National Geographic The Photo Ark: One Man’s Quest to Document the World’s Animals” By Joel Sartore The premise of photographer Sartore’s book is simple: To document the thousands of animals and insects that could soon go extinct, in hopes of inspiring change. He travels the world — to the Amazon, Antarctica and the Tampa zoo, among other places — to capture 600 striking portraits of giant panda cubs, mandrills and Madagascar ibises.
The book is part of a larger personal project, in which Sartore hopes to photograph each of the world’s 12,000 animal species. (He’s about halfway there.)
“The importance of work like Joel’s is that it reminds us to care,” actor Harrison Ford writes in the book’s introduction. “His subjects look us in the eye. They challenge us. They beguile. We sense in his portraits an almost tangible connection between them and us.”
“The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative” By Florence Williams Sometime in the past generation, Williams says, we lost our connections to nature.
“The dramatic loss of naturebased exploration in our children’s lives and in our own has happened so fast we’ve hardly noticed it, much less remarked on it,” she writes. “We may have a pet and occasionally go to the beach, so what’s the big deal? Well, what is the big deal? That’s what I wanted to find out.”
What she discovers, she says, is that nature is not only enjoyable, but therapeutic, too. She travels around the world — to Scotland, where “ecotherapy” is being used to help people struggling with mental illness, and to Idaho, where veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder find solace in trips down the river.
“One Buck at a Time: An Insider’s Account of How Dollar Tree Remade American Retail” By Macon Brock and Earl Swift Brock, the co-founder of Dollar Tree, will be the first to tell you he’s been surprised by the company’s meteoric rise, from a fiveand-dime store in Norfolk to a major corporation that last year had $20.7 billion in sales.
“If anybody tells you they saw this coming, they’re telling you a tale,” he writes, before launching into a description of a typical store, packed with scientific calculators, brake fluid and Utz potato chips, all selling for $1.
In “One Buck at a Time,” Brock says he hopes to provide “a corporate genealogy” of a company that has managed to buck the odds. “Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy” By Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
Following her husband’s sudden death in 2015, Sandberg — best known as Facebook’s chief operating officer, and author of “Lean In” — says she was unsure she’d ever be happy again.
“It felt like the grief would never subside,” she writes. “I felt the void closing in on me, the years stretching before me endless and empty.”
With the help of Grant, a psychologist and Wharton professor, Sandberg says she learned to pick up the pieces. What followed, she says, was a lesson in resilience that she and Grant are hoping to share with others.
“Rethink: The Surprising History of New Ideas” By Steven Poole Everything old is new again, Steven Poole argues in his newest book. Innovations are often just riffs on earlier ideas that have been mocked or shunned for decades, sometimes centuries, he says. One example: Tesla’s revival of the electric car, a product that was first created by a chemist in 1837. By 1900, Poole writes that more than 30,000 electric cars had made their way to the United States, where “they were much more popular than gasoline-powered cars.” But those electric vehicles were soon forgotten, in part because of new oil discoveries, which drove down the price of gasoline. By the time Elon Musk floated the same idea nearly a century later, it was hailed as cutting edge.
“We are living in an age of innovation,” writes Poole. “But it is also an age of rediscovery.”
“Unforgettable: The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert’s Renegade Life” By Emily Kaiser Thelin Part biography, part cookbook, “Unforgettable” tells the story of chef Paula Wolfert, who wrote nine revered cookbooks during her 50-year career, before being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2013.
“Paula Wolfert may be the most influential cookbook author you’ve never heard of,” Thelin writes. “She never had a restaurant. She never had a television show. But over nearly four decades . . . her work had a quiet but incalculable influence on our grocery shelves and on our approach to cooking.”
Wolfert, who has published more than 1,000 recipes, is credited with helping introduce Mediterranean foods like duck confit, couscous and preserved lemons to American households.
When Wolfert learned of her diagnosis, she vowed to fight. “I refuse to feel sorry for myself,” Thelin recalls her saying. “This illness takes forever, and I’m determined to make it take as long as I can.”
“Unforgettable,” she says, is one way of doing that. The book explores the connections between food and memory, and includes more than 50 of Wolfert’s recipes.
“A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order” By Richard Haass These are chaotic and confusing times, and it’s time to find a new way to function globally, writes Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and former Middle East adviser to President George H.W. Bush.
In practice, he says, that means there should be less focus on the borders between countries and more emphasis on collaborative policies that span the globe. The United States must find a way to work with the rest of the world, he says, while also addressing its own problems: mounting debt, a divided public and uncertainty about U.S. foreign policy.
“It is of course impossible to know what sort of foreign policy will emerge from the United States and how other countries and entities will react,” he writes. “Still, it is difficult not to take seriously the possibility that one historical era is ending and another beginning.”