What books agency execs are taking to the beach this summer

It’s been a brutal few weeks for Brits since the EU Referendum outcome. The immediate aftermath has been a political bloodbath, and the news has been saturated with headlines spouting doom and gloom.

That’s left most in the U.K. more delighted than usual to pack their bags and take a much-needed holiday. Time to step away from the barrage of online Brexit news updates, turn off the mobile and unwind with a good book. Asking agency execs what their favorite “beach reads” are has become somewhat of a tradition.

Here’s 2016’s picks from the U.K.:

wayneFor those who like to binge read…
Wayne Deakin, AKQA executive creative director, prefers to read sections of several different books at the same time. “Sitting on a sun lounger reading just one book does my head in when I could be on a wave or throwing my kids around in the surf. So I speed read and then binge read in bursts.” He picked up “Meaningful: The Story of Ideas that Fly,” by Bernadette Jiwa, on a business trip and plans to finish it this summer, while on his sun lounger.

“Everyone should read this,” said Deakin. “It upends the normal business process and asks the question, ‘What if instead of creating something, then telling people why they need it, we have people tell us what they need, then create the product?’

“I love this book because it’s honest, original and very human in its manner — a must read! If we can bring a touch of meaningful into what we do, then the world would be a better place.”

RiskFor those craving some hard facts
Chris Whitelaw, global president, iProspect, recommends “Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear,” by Dan Gardner.

Why are the safest people in history living in a culture of fear? That’s what Gardner explores in this book, showing how our strategies for perceiving risk influence our lives, often with unforseen and sometimes tragic consequences.

“During these uncertain times and the constant messages of fear surrounding our everyday lives, we are bombarded with by the press, it is slightly more uplifting to turn to science to understand the real risks we face. It isn’t always as bad as we are told,” said Whitelaw.

If you want to laugh at corporate branding
Leigh Thomas, CEO of Dare, recommends William Gibson’s “Pattern Recognition.” Set in 2002, the story follows 32-year-old marketing consultant Cayce Pollard, who has a psychological sensitivity to corporate symbols.

“The character Cayce Pollard is one of my all-time favorites, and I can identify with some of her life,” said Thomas. “She describes an agency she’s working for as “a high-speed low-drag life-form in an advertising ecology of herbivores.”

The character has allergic reactions from the presence of too many derivative brands: ‘simulacra of simulacra of simulacra.’ “So brilliant is the writing,” Thomas said.

For butterfly enthusiasts
Paul Mead, chairman of VCCP Media, recommends “The Butterfly Isles: A Summer in Search of our Emperors and Admirals” by Patrick Barkham. Both inspiring and beautifully written, the book charts one man’s bid to escape his urban angst by undertaking a quest to see all 59 species of native British butterfly in one summer.

“The beauty and polymorphic nature of butterflies have captured the human imagination for centuries, from the ancient Greeks to Grimaldi, from Winston Churchill to Nabokov,” said Mead. But this is a book about much more than Aurelian obsession — the author’s experience, like the creatures he craves, is transcendental, life changing, he added.

“From Bullingdon prison to Big Cock Shrimp Paste, this is a book which surprises and delights beyond its central theme. It’s a book about our sense of place, about relationships and our magnetic connection to the natural world around us.”

StevenIf you want a reason to sleep longer
Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Huffington Post, has become just as well-known for her championing of mindfulness in the workplace. She has published 14 books in total, but Steven Moy, CEO of Isobar U.K., has singled out “The Sleep Revolution” as his top pick. He was given it a few weeks ago by a friend for this birthday.

It is indeed the perfect book to read in between guilt-free naps on the beach. “Many leaders will boast they need or only sleep four to five hours a night, myself included. But ‘The Sleep Revolution’ makes a powerful argument for a good night’s sleep and how it puts us at the top of the game every day to take on any challenge that life throws at us. It’s the perfect read for a holiday as Huffington proves that sleep is ‘the ultimate performance enhancer’ and why rest gets you results,” he said.

For those who like a gripping crime novel
Marco Bertozzi, global chief revenue officer at Performics, recommends his favorite crime novel “The Day of the Owl” by Leonardo Sciascia. This book, written by a journalist forced to go into hiding after exposing the state of organised crime in Italy, caused a huge stir. It was the first time that organized crime had been written about and called ‘Mafia.’ “He had a bounty on his head for the rest of his life,” said Bertozzi. “The story revealed the hopelessness of the broken state — everyone from politicians to police under the influence of the Mafia and every person subjected to ‘omerta’ or silence, unable to go to the police about crimes.

“A simple, sad but powerful window on real-life organized crime in the ’60s set in a small town but framed against ominous political corruption in Rome.”

Reach If you fancy a trip down the rabbit hole
Pippa Glucklich, CEO of Starcom UK, recommends “Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole: A Renowned Neurologist Explains the Mystery and Drama of Brain Disease” by Dr Allan H. Ropper and Brian Burrell. An intriguing book about modern neurology and how to get the person ‘out’ from the complexity of the science told through a series of different case studies.

“It might sound dull, deep and unfathomable, and it certainly isn’t the obvious summertime read, but honestly it’s fascinating, sophisticated and written in a very human and engaging way — my guess is it will make you both laugh and cry,” said Glucklich.

lawrenceIf you want to be ahead of the robot revolution
Lawrence Weber, managing partner of innovation at Karmarama, is a big fan of Martin Ford’s “Rise of the Robots,” which deals with the effects of mass unemployment and the rise of automation. In fact, it’s the kind of book that will make you want to stay rooted to that idyllic beach, according to Weber.

“The prevailing wisdom on the outcome of globalization and AI is that white-collar jobs, graduates and those of us who “create” for a living will stay above the jobless high-water mark.

“Reading this book makes you fear a) that a pesky algorithm might be able to combine drones and 3D printing and win a Cannes Lions and b) that those that lead us aren’t tackling the problem of what to do with huge swathes of the population that might suddenly have nothing to do.




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