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Naked’s summer reading list

Our2Cents

What team Naked is reading over the holidays.

Choosing a book to read over December can be as hard as finding something to watch on Netflix. We thought we’d ask the book lovers at Naked for some of their faves to save you a bit of time.



Self-help

Busi, customer success: Manage Your Money Like a F*cking Grownup by Sam Beckbessinger

Beckbessinger wrote this book with the outlook that we’re never given a guide on what to do with our money once we start earning it and we often learn money habits from those who are none the wiser. Born in South Africa, she understands the relevance of learning good money habits. This book provides a helpful but basic and engaging guide to managing your money “...like a f*cking grownup”.

“Many of us are “young”, but have an overwhelming responsibility. A responsibility to not only support ourselves, but to support our ageing parents, our siblings, our grandparents, our kids, and/or any number of other relatives. This results in us making sacrifices we did not expect. But it also requires us to educate ourselves further on the management of money. I took my time to read through this book, as I wanted to absorb the knowledge and figure out how to implement the techniques listed in it in my own life. The management of your money is a life-long skill we need to invest in.”

Kate, software developer: The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss

Tim Ferris takes a fresh approach to show how we can work less and live more. He encourages his readers to forget the traditional concept of retirement and a deferred life plan and to rather just go after what you want in your life – now.

“I randomly came across this book at a charity sale last Christmas – ironically almost straight after my previous job that led to burnout. At the time, just like the author of the book, I was questioning whether the long hours, emotional stress and physical effort were a good return on investment for me. There is a lot of diversity of opinions and some criticism around the book from those who might have taken it literally as a guide on cheating your employers and employees, or just leaving everything behind and downshifting. To me, it was about finding the balance between work and all the other amazing things I’d like to see and do in life, to put energy into the most important things while creating a sustainable (and exciting, and fun) lifestyle instead of postponing it until retirement.”

Kevin, software developer: Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker

Walker is a neuroscientist and sleep expert. He took all the knowledge he knows about sleeping and why we need it, and put it into a simple, easy-to-understand book. He teaches his readers how to harness shut-eye to learn better; be happier; have more energy; regulate hormones; prevent cancer, Alzheimer's and diabetes; slow down ageing and increase longevity.

“This book changed the way I see sleep: from an unavoidable chore to an activity that improves everything I do. Matthew Walker summarises a large body of research around sleep in a way that's readable and easy to apply. Any non-fiction book that actively encourages you to fall asleep while reading it – deserves to be read.”

JP, customer success squad lead: Like a Virgin by Richard Branson

Branson shares his wisdom and experience – which have made him one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world. His advice is distilled into useful tips for those starting their own businesses/wanting to improve their careers.

“There are so many self-improvement and educational books out there these days but Decembers are for enjoyment and that is what Mr Branson does best: he has fun with business and his life. He gives tips about business, and his experiences (which are often wild) along with tips for things you should be doing if you want an extraordinary life yourself. This book, and all his others for that matter, is a fun read for me. ”

Josh, customer success: The 5AM Club by Robin Sharma

If you read this book, you will learn how an early-rising habit has helped many accomplish amazing things. They do this while improving their happiness, helpfulness, and generally feeling more alive. Morning habits can change a lot more than just the day that follows.

“In this story there are three lessons that I found to be truly thought-provoking. The first is that rising at 5am is the key to your greatness – I’ll let Sharma convince you of why. The second is that the balancing of your four internal empires: healthset, mindset, heartset and soulset, are the keys to self mastery. As for the third, I would love for more readers to discover this for themselves. I truly believe this is a book that will give you as much as you are prepared to take from it. It is in essence a guideline to a life of purpose that is motivated by our acts of service to others and not just those whom we love but those who we choose to suffer alongside.”

Fiction

Erin, AI specialist: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

13-year-old Theodore Decker survives a horrible accident in an art museum where his mom dies. As he makes his way out of the debris, he takes with him a small painting called The Goldfinch. Having been abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by a wealthy family friend. He is heartbroken at the loss of his mother and clings to the thing that reminds him most of her; the painting.

“I’ve read The Goldfinch by Donna Tart twice in my life and each time I read it, I felt something different. The book is multi-faceted and accurately captures the emotional complexity of many moments in our lives. This is one of my favourite excerpts: And I feel I have something very serious and urgent to say to you, my non-existent reader, and I feel I should say it as urgently as if I were standing in the room with you. That life–whatever else it is–is short. That fate is cruel but maybe not random. That Nature (meaning Death) always wins but that doesn’t mean we have to bow and grovel to it. That maybe even if we’re not always so glad to be here, it’s our task to immerse ourselves anyway.

Matthew, head of operations: Shantaram by Gregory David

This semi-autobiographical novel follows an Australian bank robber and recovering heroin addict who escaped from jail and fled to Bombay, India, becoming one of Australia’s most wanted men. The man takes on the false name of Lindsay Ford and makes a home in the Bombay slums – finding love and friendship.

“I was recommended to read this book while I was backpacking around Vietnam and it was the perfect companion for that trip. It's one of those books that I just couldn’t put down. The book was inspired by true tales of the author's life. It's also a great time to read it as Apple just released a series on it! And if you get really stuck in, there is a sequel: The Mountain Shadow.”

Historical fiction

Marguerite, designer and animator: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

A book written in the mid-1950s only to be published in 2015, this tale is about 26-year-old Jean who returns to transforming Alabama to visit her ageing father. Her visit becomes bittersweet when she learns disturbing things about her close-knit family, the town and those closest to her. It makes her question her values and her illusions of the past.

“Stories are easy to come by but rarely do we encounter stories that can change you. Stories that can open up a whole new world of understanding, or even heal you. As simple, possibly naive and even offensive as this may seem, Go Set a Watchman did that for me.”

Liezel, head of marketing: The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn

Based on a true story, The Diamond Eye focuses on a mother who becomes a sniper to defend Ukraine and Russia against the invasion by Nazis. Known as Lady Death, Mila finds herself torn from the battlefields on the eastern front and sent to America due to her success where she befriends Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

“Although I try really hard not to, I always seem to pick up WWII books. The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn was another one that had me hooked! I was fascinated by the fact that the book is based on a true story. The story combined a beautiful love story, the sad reality of war and a gripping crime story all in one!”

Grant, customer success: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Zusak takes us to 1939 when many families were displaced during WW2. We follow the story of a foster girl who learns to read by stealing books from Nazi book burnings. An intense, unforgettable read that leaves a lasting impact.

“I grew up listening to stories my Grandfather would tell me about the days when he was in the military police, serving in Palestine, South Korea, Japan, and Zimbabwe. Fascinated by his stories, I love to read historical fiction books. Another reason I love this book is because it contains factual excerpts that frame the story giving it more life and context, which make it feel very real. I often think that because these events happened so long ago, we don’t really think about how intense and devastating that time really was. Books like this make sure we don’t forget the hardship that people experienced.”

Mystery/Thriller

Marinda, AI specialist: The Maid by Nita Prose

This book tells the story of an unusual and good-natured maid who is caught up in a murder mystery at the hotel she works at. It is a breezy, fun read with an interesting meditation on the nature of normalcy and morality. This book champions the voices of the unheard and ignored.

“I really enjoyed this book as it tells the story of a fellow 25-year-old woman who is struggling to navigate life’s complexities on her own for the first time. She is an oddball and very obsessive about certain things. It is a cosy read with a very sweet and relatable character.”

Emily, Agile Coach: The Bullet That Missed by Richard Osman

A group of pensioners (Elizabeth; Ron; Joyce; and Ibrahim), domiciled in the Coopers Chase retirement village in Kent, meet every Thursday in the jigsaw room to look into unsolved murder files. But trouble never seems far away from Elizabeth and her cohort. Soon they find themselves wrapped up in a multiple homicide saga and only they can crack the case.

“This is the third book in the The Thursday Murder Club series written by TV presenter and comedian Richard Osman, best known for cohosting the British quiz show Pointless. Using his experiences with pensioners on the show and his mother who lives in a retirement village, Osman puts an entirely new spin on the somewhat played out whodunnit murder mystery genre. The characters are wonderfully wholesome and you'll switch between laughing out loud and tearing up from one page to the next. I burned through these books in a matter of days and they are perfect to unwind on a holiday.”

Science fiction and fantasy

Daniel, customer success: Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

Tigana is the magical story of a land struggling for freedom. It is the tale of a people, cursed by the black sorcery of a cruel dictator. The heroes of the story set off on a dangerous crusade to overthrow their oppressors and bring back the original name and way of being of their once beautiful homeland.

“There's a reason why Kay's name pops up when people talk about top modern fantasy authors and Tigana is arguably his Magnum Opus. With prose reminiscent of Shakespeare and characters so layered you love, hate, admire, resent, and feel everything in between for each of them, Kay tells an epic story of a group of people trying to free a land cursed by a tyrant King, one that has taken everything away from its people, including its name.”

Jacobus, AI specialist: The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings is a trilogy set in an epic, fictional world called Middle-Earth. Sauron, the Dark Lord, loses the One Ring that contains most of his power to rule the other Rings of Power given to Men, Dwarves, and Elves. The story follows a motley crew of Middle-Earth’s best in their quest to destroy the One Ring and bring peace to Middle-Earth.

“I realise this is a bit of a vanilla choice but it really is a series of books that makes you forget about everything else. The world set out in this story is very compelling and vivid due to the amount of detail and backstory that is thoroughly (perhaps exhaustingly so) explained. If you like exploring new worlds, fantasy and adventure I can highly recommend this book. My favourite of the series is the last book, The Return of the King.”

Biographies and memoirs

Thami, customer success: Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. by Ron Chernow

John D. Rockefeller, Sr. is history’s first billionaire and founder of Standard Oil, which later broke up into ExxonMobil, Chevron Corporation and others – some of which still have the highest revenue in the world. Titan is the first full-length biography that deep-dives into the life of America’s first Tycoon. Chernow presents Rockefeller in such a way that it will “indelibly alter our image of this most enigmatic capitalist” (Goodreads).

“This biography by Ron Chernow, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, is fascinating and compelling from the beginning. It reveals the man behind the mask and provides a balanced, revelatory picture. Perhaps the most impartial documentation of Rockefeller's life out there and, in my opinion, one of the greatest business biographies ever written. The biggest lesson I took away from the book is to always remember what is important in life. I would narrow this down to building deep meaningful relationships with family and friends. A big theme in the book is his relationship with his family and the central role that they played in shaping him as an individual and businessman.”

Shaheen, customer success: My Name Is Tani… and I Believe in Miracles by Tanitoluwa Adewumi

The inspiring, heartfelt, rags-to-riches autobiography of an 8-year-old boy whose family was forced to flee Nigeria and take refuge in a foreign country under adverse conditions. Adewumi tells the story of how he overcame that adversity, as well as how a simple game of chess became a lifesaver for him and his family. The book has plenty of self-help lessons coupled with a riveting story that is sure to enthral you.

“As the undisputable chess champion of the office, I felt I had to recommend a book like this. It's easy to get caught up in our everyday lives where all we are shown is the negativity of the world. Why not take a break from that this December and read a book that will remind us that our achievements are determined by our own character and childlike spirit? There is no better way to start the new year in my opinion. Also, I recommend reading it before some movie studio ruins the story.”

Tshimollo, customer success: We're Going to Need More Wine by Gabriel Union

We're Going to Need More Wine is a collection of essays that explore Union’s experience with Hollywood, race, gender, sexuality and what it means to be a modern woman. Union manages to lend her unique wisdom and humour to tell personal and true stories about her life.

“This book has been on my to-read list for a while now. Gabrielle has been quite open about her struggles in life; from power, colour, feminism and fame. That’s incredibly brave and I hope to learn from this collection of raw and unfiltered stories.”

Non-fiction

Stuart, best t-shirts in the office and AI specialist: The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben

It’s a book about trees. Wohlleben shares scientific and observational discoveries about trees in an approachable and interesting way. The book delves into how trees can communicate with one another and how different trees have different personalities. It explains the functioning of “tree society” as well as the functioning of the trees themselves.

“It’s always cool to learn some interesting stuff and this book is packed with an insane amount of tree content. It really does give you a newfound appreciation for trees so when you are chilling under a tree this December, you can do so with a better understanding of how they feel. Most importantly though, after reading this book, you too will be able to speak for the trees!”

Jemaine, customer success squad lead: A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

A Short History of Nearly Everything is Bryson’s quest to understand everything that has happened from the Big Bang to the rise of civilisation – how we got from there, being nothing at all, to here, being us. The ultimate eye-opening journey through time and space, revealing the world in a way most of us have never seen it before.

“I found this to be an empowering and humbling read – I learnt about all the massive advances in science that have grown us as a species but also all the little coincidences that allowed us to exist in the first place! Bryson also makes this a really fun read, weaving his sense of humour into every chapter – I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Steele, AI specialist and current winner of the best name in the office: Lifespan: The revolutionary Science of Why We Age & Why We Don't Have To by David A. Sinclair

Other than the incredible, practical and interesting insights from the forefront of longevity research, Lifespan provides the reader with an inspiring, challenging, unique and tangible thought experiment of what our world, which is built for the inevitability of ageing, will look like in an age of humans outliving what we thought possible.

“'To My Great Great Grandchildren, I hope to meet you'. This is the resonant dedication that David Sinclair makes at the beginning of this mind-bending book. I am someone who hopes to see all the amazing technological breakthroughs. I hope to see humanity travel across the solar system in the distant future and the idea that this is possible is insanely captivating to me.”

Megan, talent retention and recruitment: Lost Connections by Johann Hari

Depression and anxiety have become common terms in society. Scientists around the world have found nine different causes; some are part of our biology, but most are because of the way we live today. Lost Connections explores new ways of thinking about depression and anxiety; it shows that once we understand the real causes, we can look to solutions that offer real hope.

“I absolutely love this book. It talks about the ‘junk values’ we lead our lives by that do not actually meet our innate needs – leaving us with this puzzling and insistent sense of dissatisfaction. Each chapter gives hope to how we can wriggle free from these values that distract us from living sustainably happy lives. I refer back to this book often because we live in a world that has made it so easy to become distracted from our intrinsic values, and sometimes we need to stop, take a step back and realign with what really matters.”

That’s all folks! Until next year.

Happy reading ☺️

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