The A-Team Winter Book Club
There’s nothing better than cosying up with a good book when there’s a winter chill in the air. The current A-Team reading list includes some big hitters in the non-fiction realm – eloquent and erudite authors with hot insights that’ll help sluggish brains unfreeze. We asked around the office and these are the titles our non-fiction fans recommended:
Title: Gang Town
Author: Don Pinnock
Why I’d recommend it: I’ve always been interested in gangs (the who, what, where and why) but I also believe that it is good to know about these dangerous activities that happen right amidst us. While it can be heart-breaking to realise how kids are being exposed to the world of drugs and violence, it’s an issue we simply cannot overlook. The author goes deep into the history of Cape Town and gives you a look inside some of the most notorious gangs. It can be somewhat troubling, especially when you realise the kids have such a small chance of living a ‘normal’ life and not turning out to be gangsters themselves. I had to re-read several sections because it is very academic, but it is an exceptional book. The author describes the effects that gangsterism has on communities and at the end he provides a few recommendations on what can be done about the issue. It is fascinating.
Title: Thinking up a hurricane
Author: Martinique Stillwell
Why I’d recommend it: A rather absorbing book about a father from Benoni who always had a dream to sail around the world. With no experience, he bought and half built a yacht in Benoni, towed it down to the seaside in Durban, taught himself to sail by going in and out of Durban harbour – then took his wife, son and daughter (age 6 and 7 at the time) around the world. It tells of their adventures, the trials, the tribulations and about what can be accomplished if you put your mind to it. Wonderfully written through the eyes and experiences of the daughter, Martinique Stilwell.
Title: The Red Queen
Author: Matt Ridley
Why I’d recommend it: I take it everyone to some extent has an interest in human nature; being aware of our nature helps demystify a lot about how we behave and sheds some light on why we are drawn to and taken aback by certain things. The book looks into human psychology and how it ties back to evolution and partner selection among other things. I strongly believe having access to this information and insights into human nature allows you to be more understanding of the world we live in and better equipped to deal with the people you share it with.
Title: The Age of Spiritual Machines
Author: Ray Kurzweil
Why I’d recommend it: It’s written by Google’s chief futurist and singularity believer, who predicts that by 2029, computers will have human-level intelligence. Very cool! I had no idea how advanced computers were becoming. The stuff they anticipate technology being able to do in the next 10-20 years is incredible! So glad I read this.
Title: Creative Change: Why we resist it… How can we embrace it
Author: Jennifer Mueller
Why I’d recommend it: It’s a fascinating read on creative leadership based on research done by leading psychologist, Jennifer Mueller. Her research essentially showed that despite proclaiming commitment to innovation, many business leaders consistently reject creative alternatives and embrace the familiar. She unpacks what she calls our hidden innovation barrier, shares great insight and provides practical solutions to avoid falling victim to this ’trap’. Given the widely held belief that creativity is the new competitive edge in business (across all industries), this is a must-read for leaders wanting to develop a mind-set that says yes to the brave new ideas that will ensure their businesses remain relevant and continue to stand out from the crowd in an increasingly complex world.
Title: Do No Harm
Author: Henry Marsh
Why I’d recommend it: It’s an evocative recount of a top neurosurgeon’s take on some of his most complex cases with a philosophical and moral analysis of the role of the doctor and how sometimes extremely difficult decisions need to be made. How far does the doctor’s responsibility extend and to what extent should he feel culpable should something go wrong? For me, it’s a must-read because it gives incredible insight into the human mind and the impossible decisions we somehow have to make.