Need a Good Summer Read? Explore These Book Recommendations from the C2FO Team

June 22, 2020
Lily Leiberman

Summer is peak season to catch up on missed readings, re-read old favorites and discover new ones. For a definitive summer reading list, we’ve turned to the executive team for help.

C2FO’s leaders have curated a list of fun and informative books (and even a few podcasts) that help them switch off and unplug, and offer reflection for personal growth and career development. 

Sandy Kemper – Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

“This summer, I’m reading and re-reading several books that range from a historical biography to a deep dive into the evolution of finance. 

“I just finished Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. in order to prepare for Grant — both written by Ron Chernow — which I am reading now. Before that, I re-read Fascism: A Warning by Madeleine Albright, as well as her most recent book (where I make a cameo), Hell and Other Destinations: A 21st-Century Memoir.

“I’m also re-reading Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries by Safi Bahcall. 

“Later this summer, I plan to read Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein, The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World by Niall Ferguson and Lying by Sam Harris.”

Sanjay Gupta — President and Chief Operating Officer

“I’m listening to The 1619 Project. It’s a podcast based on a collection of essays, poems, short fiction and photos developed by The New York Times Magazine in 2019 with the goal of re-examining the legacy of slavery in the U.S. and timed for the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans in Virginia. 

“I’m reading The Splendid and The Vile, by Erik Larson. It’s a gripping tale of Winston Churchill’s first year as prime minister and his impact during World War II. It discusses Churchill’s leadership during Hitler’s bombing campaign against England.

“When I have time, I listen to a continuous stream of fast-paced murder/espionage mysteries, which keep me entertained and distracted.” 

Kerri Thurston — Chief Financial Officer

“This summer, I’m focused on self-improvement and education. I’m reading How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. Kendi recently published another book titled Antiracist Baby for those with young children.

“As C2FO has grown globally, I love to read fiction set in our major geographies as they are so informative about local culture, history, and geography. This summer, I plan to read The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi. I believe Gitanjali Thomas (Sanjay’s wife) recommended this one to me and we almost ALWAYS love the same books so I am looking forward to it!”

Jerod Laughlin — Chief Marketing Officer

“Because I love political theory books, I’ve picked up Joel Kotkin’s The Coming of Neo-Feudalism, which takes a hard look at demographic stagnation and concentration of wealth in a new feudal class.

“On the fun side, I recently downloaded Valdor: Birth of the Imperium, which fills in some very early history in the Warhammer 40K universe around the creation of the Custodian Guard and how the Unification Wars paved way for the creation of the Legio Astartes. 

I’m also reading Fabius Bile: Manflayer, the third novel in the trilogy, which continues the story of a twisted fallen space marine’s plan to create a new breed of human and his continued fight to stay one step ahead of his past.

John Young — Chief Data Officer

“I read constantly, but here are some recent re-reads from me: 

“I chose these books because, whether I’m reading them for the first or fourth time, I always find them to inspire innovation.”

Kevin Daniels – Chief Product Officer

“I’m always hungry to learn more about the inception of amazing innovations, so I’m reading two books this summer that have been recommended to me by friends: Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries, by Safi Bahcall, and Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation.

“On a personal note, I’m finally getting around to reading The Martian, by Andy Weir.”

John Christopher — Chief Technical Officer

“I’m reading Good Math: A Geek’s Guide to the Beauty of Numbers, Logic, and Computation, by Mark C. Chu-Carroll. I don’t do as much math or logical thinking in my day-to-day anymore, and I want to make sure that I am not losing the basics. The statement, “Use it or lose it” seems to become more true the older I get. 

“On the fun side, I hope to finish The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. I’m on book nine of 14. I started getting into these epic, high-fantasy novels in the last eight years or so, and I enjoy just losing myself in their worlds sometimes.”

Pete Thomas – Chief Innovation Officer

“For personal growth this summer I’m re-reading 1978’s Aristotle for Everybody, by Mortimer J. Adler, this time alongside my 13-year-old son, whom I expect will understand most, but not all of it. I was introduced to this short text years ago by my uncle Curtis, who taught at Rockhurst University before retiring. It’s a great, accessible introduction to Western thought for a receptive teen, and I myself have gone back to it two or three times.

“I just received The Topeka School by Ben Lerner in the mail this week. My sister, who teaches English literature at Académie Lafayette, sent the book enclosed with a simple note: ‘I hope you find some time to read this. I have no doubt you will be impressed by what he has accomplished.’ I plan to start it this week. I didn’t know of Lerner so I looked him up. He’s 41, was born in Topeka, and his mom was a psychologist at the Menninger Clinic until 2001.”

Dru Shiner – Chief Sales Officer

“I’m re-reading Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell, which is one of the best leadership books I have ever read.

“For a new read, I’ve chosen Fortitude: American Resilience in the Era of Outrage, which is a tough-love leadership book from a Navy SEAL. I’m always intrigued and inspired by people that are willing to lay down their lives for others. When they continue serving in their post-military career as a public servant  in the House of Representatives, it becomes a must-read for me.”

Alex Donnelly — Chief Collaboration Officer

“I’m currently reading These Truths, by Jill Lepore, which traces America’s history through wars, policy decisions, and national debates. It’s been since high school that I’ve attempted to traverse the history of the U.S. beginning to end. Since then, I’ve gained a ton of global perspective and it’s refreshing to read this book with that knowledge in mind. It’s also a very timely account of the history behind modern-day injustices in our systems of law, education and wealth.

“I’m reading several books recommended by colleagues. After reading Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind — now a favorite — at the recommendation of Sanjay and many others, I’m going to start another book by the same author, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. I’m also reading Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World, which was recommended by another colleague. In general, these all seek to explain how humankind got where it is today. It’s a mix of history, anthropology and psychology — all of which I love.

“In terms of career growth, I plan to read Melinda Gates’ The Moment of Lift, which was a recommendation from a mentor. I’ve also added High Output Management, by Andy Grove to my list this summer. The book was a recommendation I picked up as a frequent reference in Ben Horowitz’s book, The Hard Thing About Hard Things.”

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