Last month, I published Bill Gates's summer reading list. Since, in terms of personal wealth, Gates is in the .0000000001 percent, I couldn't help wondering whether the comparative hoi polloi--the infamous 1 percent--had the same reading tastes. But how to find out?
Luckily, J.P. Morgan (the company, not the corpse) annually asks its "client advisors" for their reading recommendations. Since those employees are obviously among the 1 percent, their reading list no doubt reflects that of the merely wealthy.
This post contains JPM's list, with a summary from the original article and a quote from each book. Note: JPM's list included a coffee table book (Saturday Night Live: The Book) and a restaurant guide (Where Chefs Eat). You don't "read" such books, so I left them out.
1. Creative Schools
Subtitle: The Grassroots Revolution That's Transforming Education
Authors: Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica
JPM's Summary: Makes the case for tapping our advanced technological capital--and creativity--to foster learning and to revamp public education systems.
Best Quote: "As we face a very uncertain future, the answer is not to do better what we've done before. We have to do something else. The challenge is not to fix this system but to change it; not to reform it but to transform it. The great irony of the current malaise in education is that we actually know what works. We just don't do it on a wide enough scale. We are in the position as never before to use our creative and technological resources to change that. We now have limitless opportunities to engage young people's imaginations and to provide forms of teaching and learning that are highly customized to them."
2. Deep Down Dark
Subtitle: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free
JPM's Summary: Recounts 69 harrowing days--the miners' ordeal, the families' fears, the rescuers' persistence, and how each person lives with the memory of this experience.
Best Quote: "In the San Jose Mine, sea level is the chief point of reference. The five-by-five-meter tunnel of the Ramp begins at Level 720, which is 720 meters above sea level. The Ramp descends into the mountain as a series of switchbacks, and then farther down becomes a spiral. Dump trucks, front loaders, pickup trucks, and assorted other machines and the men who operate them drive down past Level 200, into the part of the mountain where there are still minerals to be brought to the surface, working in passageways that lead from the Ramp to the veins of ore-bearing rock. On the morning of August 5, the men of the A shift are working as far down as Level 40, some 2,230 vertical feet below the surface, loading freshly blasted ore into a dump truck. Another group of men are at Level 60, working to fortify a passageway near a spot where a man lost a limb in an accident one month earlier. A few have gathered for a moment of rest, or idleness, in or near El Refugio, the Refuge, an enclosed space carved out of the rock at Level 90. As its name suggests, the Refuge is supposed to be a shelter in the event of an emergency, but it also serves as a kind of break room because fresh air is pumped into it from the surface, offering a respite from the humidity and the heat, which often reach 98 percent and 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in this part of the mine. The San Jose is said by the men who work there to be like hell, and this is a description with some basis in scientific fact, since it's the geothermal heat emanating from the bowels of the Earth that makes the mine hotter the deeper they go."
3. Every Gift Matters
Subtitle: How Your Passion Can Change the World
Authors: Carrie Morgridge and John Perry
JPM's Summary: Shares inspiring tales of those who drive community change through giving.
Best Quote: "Any conversation about giving eventually comes around to money. The money isn't the solution. It's a tool. In the right hands, in the right situation, it can literally work miracles. And, like any tool, you have to know how to use it to get the most out of it. Side by side with the conversation about money, the discussion has to include how to make a program sustainable, how to attract volunteers, and how to leverage the gift to fully maximize its value."
4. How to Fly a Horse
Subtitle: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery
Author: Kevin Ashton
JPM's Summary: An entrepreneur and technology pioneer at MIT chronicles the creative ingenuity, persistence, and sometimes lonely path creators follow to move from idea to breakthrough.
Best Quote: "Creation is so around and inside us that we cannot look without seeing it or listen without hearing it. As a result, we do not notice it at all. We live in symbiosis with the new. It is not something we do; it is something we are. It affects our life expectancy, our height and weight and gait, our way of life, where we live, and the things we think and do. We change our technology, and our technology changes us. This is true for every human being on the planet. It has been true for two thousand generations, ever since the moment our species started thinking about improving its tools."
Subtitle: A Natural and Cultural History
Author: Cynthia Barnett
JPM's Summary: Traces the evolution of one of the most common, precious, and sometimes destructive forces in nature.
Best Quote: "For all of history, it has inspired all the excitement, longing, and heartbreak that a good love story entails. The first civilizations rose and fell with the rain, which has helped shape humanity since our earliest ancestors radiated out of Africa when the rainfall tapered off and the forests turned to savanna grasslands. Every culture had its own way of worshipping rain, from Mesoamerican cave paintings exalting rain deities to modern Christian governors who call prayer for a storm. Rain and two more of its wondrous pride--clouds and rainbows--have inspired writers, painters, and poets for thousands of years ... True, the sun and the wind inspire. But rain has an edge. Who, after all, dreams of dancing in dust? Or kissing in the bright sun?"
6. The Resilience Dividend
Subtitle: Being Strong in a World Where Things Go Wrong
Author: Judith Rodin
JPM's Summary: Offers stories of communities and businesses that have faced catastrophic events--ranging from weather or disease to political or economic crises--and then persevered and come away even stronger.
Best Quote: "Resilience is the capacity of any entity--an individual, a community, an organization, or a natural system--to prepare for disruptions, to recover from shocks and stresses, and to adapt and grow from a disruptive experience. As you build resilience, therefore, you become more able to prevent or mitigate stresses and shocks you can identify, and better able to respond to those you can't predict or avoid. You also develop greater capacity to bounce back from a crisis, learn from it, and achieve revitalization. Ideally, as you become more adept at managing disruption and skilled at resilience building, you are able to create and take advantage of new opportunities in good times and bad. That is the resilience dividend. It means more than effectively returning to normal functioning after a disruption, although that is critical. It is about achieving significant transformation that yields benefits even when disruptions are not occurring."
7. World Order
Author: Henry Kissinger
JPM's Summary: Kissinger's call for international harmony, filled with details that draw from his experience as historian, statesman, observer, and friend--an informative and thought-provoking analysis of the challenges ahead.
Best Quote: "The balance between legitimacy and power is extremely complex; the smaller the geographic area to which it applies and the more coherent the cultural convictions within it, the easier it is to distill a workable consensus. But in the modern world the need is for a global world order. An array of entities unrelated to each other by history or values (except at arm's length), and defining themselves essentially by the limit of their capabilities, is likely to generate conflict, not order."
8. The Wright Brothers
Author: David McCullough
JPM's Summary: Tells the story of their family and childhood, genius and ingenuity, successes and failures [and] includes details from private diaries, letters, and family scrapbooks.
Best Quote: "According to brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright of Dayton, Ohio, it began for them with a toy from France, a small helicopter brought home by their father, Bishop Milton Wright, a great believer in the educational value of toys. The creation of a French experimenter of the 19th century, Alphonse Pénaud, it was little more than a stick with twin propellers and twisted rubber bands, and probably cost 50 cents. "Look here, boys," said the Bishop, something concealed in his hands. When he let go, it flew to the ceiling. They called it the "bat." Orville's first teacher in grade school, Ida Palmer, would remember him at his desk tinkering with bits of wood. Asked what he was up to, he told her he was making a machine of a kind that he and his brother were going to fly someday."