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

The Washington Post Sunday - - CAPITAL BUSINESS - BY ABHA BHATTARAI abha.bhattarai@wash­post.com

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.”

1

“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.”

2

“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.”

3

“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.”

4

“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.”

5

“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.

6

“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.

8

“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.”

9

“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.

7

10

“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.”

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