Don’t Judge A Work Colleague By Their Book Choice. Learn From It.

As a book lover myself, I’m always curious about the titles lying on my colleagues’ desks when I walk around the office. Buried beneath the ubiquitous volumes about Lean, Agile or Scrum, I spotted some hidden gems that I wanted to learn more about.

In an attempt to map out the reading habits of CAF’s employees, I asked ten of my colleagues to tell me which of their recent reads had left a mark. The selection that follows, is as diverse and multidisciplinary as our teams.

 

Will Dixon, Product Owner, is currently listening to Elon Musk’s biography by Ashley Vance.

After reading an article on Neuralink (Musk’s mission is to use brain implants to link human minds directly with computers), Will gained interest in the Tesla CEO’s background: “I became fascinated by the audacity of Musk’s vision and determination. We’ve all heard about this modern day iron man, but mainstream media barely scratches the surface of the character and the interesting companies he has been involved in”. Will’s passion for these topics show in the way he documents his explanation, referring to other reads and opening several bookmarks on his browser. Fascinating!

 

Rania Karatza, Operations Manager, talks to me about Lean In. Women, work and the will to lead, by Sheryl Sandberg.

The book is about understanding that for women, there are seen and hidden boundaries within the workforce which inhibit our success and our ability to get promoted into leadership roles. Her takeaways from the book are that “Feeling confident is necessary to reach for opportunities. Opportunities are rarely offered; they're seized. What I also live by is that we (women) can and should support each other more in our working environments, stand up for one another, and get more men on our side while we’re at it”.

 

After some thought, Solutions Architect, Damian Stafford, carefully chooses from his stocked list of recent reads, Samskara, A rite for a dead man by U. R. Anantha Murthy. 

This book is set in 1960's India. While its central character is a dead man, his hedonistic lifestyle and his death expose hypocrisy in his community, highlight the social transformation going on in India at the time, and have a transformative effect on the attitudes of the village's spiritual leader.

Damian adds: “I really like fiction set in moments of significant historical change, and was drawn to this book for that reason. India is also my favourite country. Samskara is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘transformation’, or ‘right of passage’.”  I’m sold.

 

Our CSO, Gerard Frith, has been reading The Master Algorithm by Pedro Domingos.

This is a volume about the search for a single algorithm that would allow us to solve any thinkable problem.

It is not the first time that Gerard has recommended this book around the business, and he states that what he finds fascinating about it is how it synthesizes the thinking and research around Artificial Intelligence up until this point.

 

I discuss the plot of Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts with Joe Curtis, our DevOps specialist. The book tells the story of a convicted Australian bank robber that escapes from prison and flees to Bombay where he continues with his tumultuous life. 

“Sounds tough”, I state. Joe affirms that he obviously can't relate to the main character as their paths in life are rather different, but it certainly catches my interest when he concludes,  “it's a book to find yourself and lose yourself to. It makes me want to travel!”

 

Maria Papadelli, Product Owner, tells me that she’s been reading Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. A classic fictional novel that depicts consumerism, information and streamlined/controlled human relationships.

Maria finds the idea of prophecy coming to reality fascinating: “the novel is in some parts about present times, trying to make sense of current affairs." She is about right!

 

It comes as no surprise that Bartek Nojowski, one of our Digital Designers, has an array of book recommendations on the topics of arts, aesthetics, architecture and materials. His current choice is the essay, In Praise of Shadows, by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, on Japanese aesthetics.

When asked why he recommended this book, Bartek exclaims: “I just love it!  And then he loses himself in the mesmerising subtleties of gold embroideries, patinas, cloudy crystals, gleams and shines…

 

Product Owner Josh Harris, just finished reading Dark Matter, by Blake Crouch.

This novel is a sci-fi adventure about quantum mechanics and parallel universes based on the classic Schrödinger’s cat experiment. “It takes a complex scientific theory (which is generally not interesting to most people) and applies it to very generalist, real-life experiences (relationships and love)”. Wishlisted!

 

Guillaume Goujon, Digital Strategist, is listening at the moment to The Inevitable. Understanding the 12 technological forces that will shape our future, by Kevin Kelly.

Kevin Kelly is the founding executive editor of Wired magazine and he's been writing about digital technology and its likely impact for around 30 years. Guillaume says that he found his latest book really insightful and thought-provoking. “It helped me imagine what our future lives may look like and I absolutely recommend it for anyone who wants a little help to think bigger.”

 

I discuss the complexity of One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez with Hugh Shone, Business Development Manager.

I tell him that I failed to finish this book twice in the past. But somehow he found that the mix of the fantastic and magical elements in it, plus a recent trip to Colombia helped him relate to the story more than expected.

 

To conclude...

From the success of tech entrepreneurs all the way to Japanese aesthetics, through technology and business insights, Artificial Intelligence, leadership techniques and historical fiction and nonfiction. What I found in CAF was a wide spectrum of reading topics that demonstrates our willingness to keep our eyes wide open to the world in order to inform, improve and inspire our work.

What? …Do I have myself a book recommendation to add to this list? - Of course!

 

It has to be Colour: travels through the paintbox, by Victoria Finlay.

An exquisitely written travel diary on the origins of natural pigments observed across all its possible angles: geography, science, history, anthropology, art, science or chemistry among others. I devoured this book while travelling across different countries and I couldn't have crossed paths with it in a better context.

Rick Holland named it: The world belongs to those who read!

 

Why not  drop into our offices for a cup of tea and meet the team? We’re always happy to bounce around a few ideas and to share some of the work we’ve been doing with other clients.