Dom Santry - CEO
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho: My favourite fiction book. Explores themes like desire, hope, dreams, failure and destiny, swept up into what initially appears to be a classic fable format. “I see the world in terms of what I would like to see happen, not what actually does.”
The Messy Middle by Scott Belsky: The book I’ve returned to the most. Scott Belsky’s deep-dive into the ups and downs of starting a company is as useful now as a learning resource as it was in 2018, when I first read it.
Shoe Dog: A memoir by Nike co-founder Phil Knight. Orients around building a brand, overcoming adversities and ‘carrying on’. Super book.
Katie Whitefield - iOS Engineer
Non-fiction: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari I don’t know if another book has quite incited me to such ‘holy shit’ reactions. I hadn’t thought about so many peculiarities of civilisation and society as was presented in Sapiens, and in such a clear and rational way to boot!
Fiction: All time favourites include The Gentleman Bastard Sequence by Scott Lynch, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, and Frank Herbert’s Dune. My most recent favourite has been Circe by Madeline Miller, which is an easily readable retelling of classical mythology, but from the perspective of an often missed and overlooked goddess.
Hannah Wooster - Community Manager
The Heart's Invisible Furies & A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne: I will love anything that John Boyne ever writes but nothing will beat The Heart's Invisible Furies. His books always manage to evoke the strongest possible emotions in me. It follows the life of Cyril Avery, a gay man born in Ireland in a time where his sexuality was criminalised. I was a bit of a sobbing mess upon finishing and I wanted to read about Cyril way beyond the 600 pages of the book. I recommend this book to everyone who asks (and those that don't).
A close runner up is A Ladder to the Sky, home to one of the most infuriating characters of all time. I wanted to throw the book across the room at multiple points - in the best possible way.
The Five by Hallie Rubenhold: I'm not a massive reader of non-fiction but regardless, I think this will be one of the best books I'll read for a long time. The Five gives a fresh insight into the lives of the five victims of Jack the Ripper, whose names and stories have been hugely overshadowed by that of their murderer. It's a really interesting look into the attitudes towards women in the 1800's.
Mike MacCana - Lead Engineer
Sophie Calle - M'as Tu Vue? (Did you see me?): This is a retrospective of an artist who likes to play with themes of identity, but refreshingly doesn't take itself too seriously - it's filled with stories of Calle's often awkward social experiments, including chasing strangers through the street, or inviting them to sleep in her bed - and how people react.
Michel Houellebecq - The Map and the Territory: It starts as a peaceful and contemplative story about the life of an artist, and becomes... something else entirely. No spoilers.
HP Lovecraft and I. N. J Culbard - The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath: A bizarre and incredibly imaginative fantasy adventure story. Randolph dreams of a majestic city, but then wakes up. He then seeks to enter the world of dream and find his way back to the sunset city, accompanied by an army of cats (they're quite powerful in the world of dreams because they sleep a lot), being kidnapped by pterodactyl-like creatures, and sailing through the sky. Far more whimsical, but just as imaginative as Lovecraft's grown up work, The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.
El Hubbard - Marketing
Although all three of these works fall under fiction, they all retain a core element of truth and authenticity that I love in my fiction.
When God Was A Rabbit by Sarah Winman: If my childhood could be a book, I read this for the first time when I was 9 and then I read it for the fiftieth time earlier this year. The way Sarah Winman paints such an authentic story of life as a young girl, exploring the extreme darkness life can bring while remaining a complete page-turner captivated me. Manoeuvring through complex themes of rejection, love, loss, death and growth, the heroine is a brilliant strong female character.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe: I found this novel after reading 'Heart of Darkness' by Joseph Conrad for high school. The depiction of 1890s Congo it painted was spiteful and from the colonisers perspective. Achebe wrote this as a criticism of Conrad's work. He pays homage to his ancestors and their way of life pre-colonisation. The magical realism and fantasy in this book are outstanding as they still remain so grounded in reality through the religion and rich traditions of Congo. I'd say this book is an important read for anyone.
Slaughter House-5 by Kurt Vonnegut: Firstly, this book is not at all what you expect. It follows the anti-hero Billy Pilgrim, a meek unassuming character who found himself being drafted into the war. It is a very personal story to Vonnegut as it is based on his own experiences at Dresden. However, this book is very much an anti-war novel, with insane twists and turns along the way. I won't spoil too much but let me tell you the plot twist is mad.
Valentina - Legal
An iconic and timeless French novel by Alexandre Dumas. The beautiful depiction of the characters and the suspense within their adventures will captivate you all the way. Vengeance, love and resilience are a few of the themes approached within this masterpiece.
Daniel Meechan - Software Engineer
The Martian by Andy Weir: The Martian will bring you to the edge of your seat as astronaut Mark Watney fights to survive being stranded on Mars. I love the blend of comedy and cross-disciplinary thinking he uses to survive (exploring a bunch of domains like botany, physics, chemistry, geography, anatomy...). If you've ever asked yourself in Maths class "when will I ever use this in real life?", this book answers that question (ready for when you next take a trip to Mars).
Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker: In our caffeine-driven world where sleep deprivation is sometimes idolised, Why We Sleep tears apart that myth with an incredible body of evidence demonstrating why sleep is so vital to all of us. Well worth reading if you find yourself being dragged awake by your alarm every morning.
Alex Register - Head of Partnerships
Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow: 'Catch and Kill' recounts the true story of investigative journalist Ronan Farrow's pursuit of Harvey Weinstein to reveal the 'open secret' of his countless acts of sexual assault. Not only does the book do an incredible job highlighting the bravery of all the women that were willing to go on the record and share their stories, it shines a light on the corrupt nature of modern day media. The book reads like a novel but is full of extremely detailed documentation and insights into the rigorous fact checking process that journalists go through before releasing a breaking story.
Just Kids by Patti Smith: 'Just Kids' explores the life long relationship between Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. The two met in their late teens in New York, both living a bohemian lifestyle as young artists. Taking up residency in the Chelsea Hotel, they lived among many creatives of the late 60s and experimented with friendships, relationships, identity, art and their own sexuality. The kindred spirits considered one another soulmates into their adulthood, even as Smith married and had children of her own. Their friendship lasted until Mapplethorp died in 1989 at the age of 42. Patti Smith tells their story in an incredibly innocent and poetic manner that really allows readers a glimpse into their life as "just kids" and the lasting love they had for one another throughout their lives.
Cas Magee - Graphic Designer
1984 is one of the best works of dystopian fiction. Even though it was written 70 years ago, many of the concepts are very relevant and reminiscent of modern times.
Summer Jones - iOS Engineer
Non-fiction: I wouldn't have considered myself a non-fiction reader until recently when I came across Hans Rosling's book, Factfulness. It really got me thinking about a lot of the planets big issues a lot more pragmatically. I've since also learnt a lot about sleep thanks to Night School by Richard Wiseman, and think that Daisie should install nap pods ASAP.
Fiction: Books that have really stuck in my memory include The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga and The Power by Naomi Alderman. I'm also a big fan of historical fiction and loved Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, with its weirdly detailed architectural descriptions of Cathedrals. Sadly haven't got round to reading the latest one in the series yet, it's a bit of a tricky one to hold on the tube…
Ida Kevelj - Culture and Communications
The War on Women by Sue Lloyd-Roberts: This book will make anyone a feminist. From delving into some of the most interesting, untold stories in our history, to analysing the inequalities we experience on a daily basis, Sue Lloyd-Roberts opens your eyes to everything woman have overcome and what we still have to fight for.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: One Hundred Years of Solitude is one of those books that I didn’t think I’d like but I ended up loving. Following a dysfunctional family over the course of a century, it explores the cyclical nature of life in a way that’s somehow funny, depressing and thought provoking simultaneously.
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is everything I like in a book packed into one. The love story makes it a good beach read, the historical backdrop makes it educational and Louis de Bernières writes so beautifully that it’s almost poetic.
Ian Hutchinson - Engineer
I'm interested in how the internet shapes peoples interactions with each other. I found "So You've Been Publicly Shamed" by Jon Ronson to be a fantastic examination of how social media has brought back the historically common practice of public shaming in the modern age.
Ronson's style of journalism has this unique quality that lets you both understand the people subjected to shaming, the people who do the shaming, while at the same time forcing you to reflect on how you'd really conduct yourself in the stories he covers in the book.