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Book recommendations from business leaders and cultural influencers



Courtesy of Riverhead Books (Deacon King Kong); Courtesy of Knopf (Things We Lost in the Water); Amazon (The Fables of La Fontaine); Courtesy of Penguin Press (Nose Dive); Courtesy of PublicAffairs (Value (s)); Courtesy of Random House (Save Me the Plums)

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Maria torres springer

Vice President of US Programs, Ford Foundation

Deacon King Kong, by James McBride

Things we lost in the water, by Eric Nguyen

“Deacon King Kong is a dizzying and hilarious story set in 1960s Brooklyn that almost defies the genre: a crime drama, a comedy, a hero’s journey, a sociological study. But above all, it is a brilliant reading, full of humanity and humor. Things we lost in the water tells the heartbreaking story of Vietnamese refugees resettled in New Orleans after the Vietnam War and sensitively explores how they continue to experience trauma, displacement and loss.

Dominique crenn

Three Michelin star chef and owner of Atelier Crenn, San Francisco

The fables of the fountain, by Jean de La Fontaine

“I like to turn to poetry and poetic writing to recharge my batteries. I read The fables of the fountain by Jean de La Fontaine. It’s a beautiful poetry about our relationships with animals, but it’s a lot about the world of people… It offers a different perspective on what is happening in the world and in the environment today.

Stephen gardner

President, Amtrak

Nose Dive: A Field Guide to the World’s Smells, by Harold McGee

“In the hustle and bustle of modern life, it’s easy to get locked into certain ways of experiencing the world, so I’m always looking for sources of different perspectives. I very much appreciate McGee’s introduction to the world of scents and our olfactory powers, which seem to be our most neglected senses, but one of our most powerful senses. McGee does a great job of illuminating this somewhat hidden and complex area that works on us all the time, often without our knowledge, and in the process reminds us of the wonder of life.

Rosa “Rosie” Gumataotao Rios

Former US Treasurer, TV Show Co-Host Unicorn Hunters Value (s): Building a Better World for All, by Mark Carney

“The concept of value is one of my personal passions, in particular the correlation between visibility and value. As for the former Governor of the Bank of England and the Bank of Canada, Mark Carney brings a cosmopolitan perspective to monetary policy and its impacts. There are very few people who can take a two-dimensional problem like financial worth and include the three-dimensional problem of human worth. Mark seems to be doing this transparently.

Scott Durkin

President, Chief Operating Officer, Douglas Elliman Real Estate

Save me the plums, by Ruth Reichl

“I was a huge fan of Ruth when she was the New York Times food critic and I love to cook and bake, so of course I had to read it. Her time as the editor of Gourmet Magazine has been epic. What lessons have I learned? It’s important to take risks and not let impostor syndrome stop you from taking risks and living your dreams. Great food brings people together and the experience of preparing it is even better. When I was younger, if someone had told me that I would be running one of the biggest real estate companies in the country, I would have laughed. But I took every opportunity that presented itself and ran with it. This book will inspire everyone to do the same. In addition, the recipes are excellent.

This article appeared in the September 2021 issue of Penta magazine.