Charlotte Street Partners

READ ON THE STREET

READ ON THE STREET

Books of the summer 2020

Written by Katie Stanton, associate partner
27 June 2020

Good morning,

Life beyond screens, beyond the ongoing inquest into whose dirty chopping board is lying abandoned in the sink, beyond screaming matches with parents who think it possible to consciously “suck up all the wifi”; it seems distant, doesn’t it?
 
As a household, we are still on the emotional edge – half are grumpy and working, the other half furloughed and apathetic. We spend our days brushing for prints around the sink (“but I already did the dishes two Saturdays ago”), spitting out sickly sarcastic back chat (“oh yeah, sorry mum, I forgot, let me just turn off my wifi Hoover”), and generally bursting into tears at the agitation of the whole thing.
 
For me, books have been a much-needed constant, a place away from this place, these people, and myself. Sure, we can go to the pub soon, but that’s no escape from my own stupid thoughts which are, quite frankly, very well-thumbed and so boring they hurt my teeth to even conjure.
 
So, with this, and a long summer of staycation stretching ahead of us, the Charlotte Street Partners team has decided on a change to our usual line-up. This week we have compiled our favourite books of 2020 so far. Hopefully there is something for everyone – fiction for the optimistic escapists; economics for the brutal realists; history for those hungry for a simpler time.
 
But I’ll shut up now and let the list speak for itself. Have a fantastic weekend.

As quarantine restrictions begin to lift in the UK, this article had us dreaming of our next foray overseas. But as Kuper reminds us; the right to sip espresso on an Italian piazza, or take the train from the Atlantic to the Adriatic, has been hard won, and is only made more precious in the age of Covid or Brexit. Cross-border exchange is Europe’s biggest selling point and it’s a dream worth protecting.

Read on Financial Times

The popularity of WhatsApp has risen more sharply than other online media during the lockdown. Amidst the chaos and fake news perpetuating Twitter and Facebook, many found comfort in the privacy of the WhatsApp group chat. However, this article presents us with a different perspective: that there are in fact many things wrong with the app. 

Read on The Guardian 

Fiction

Scarlett Regan, researcher

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

The Dutch House, set over five decades, tells the story of a brother and sister who desire to move forwards and lead their own lives but who often find themselves knocking on the locked door of their past. This is a beautifully written story of siblinghood at its strongest. I’ve also heard that the audio version read by Tom Hanks is a treat.

Katie Stanton, associate partner

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
 
This is the story of Emira Tucker, an Atlanta babysitter who encounters racism – both directly, but also indirectly, from well-intentioned liberals who think it’s an achievement to have a black friend round for dinner. Such a Fun Age is engrossing, important and wonderfully real.

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
 
This is the story of Emira Tucker, an Atlanta babysitter who encounters racism – both directly, but also indirectly, from well-intentioned liberals who think it’s an achievement to have a black friend round for dinner. Such a Fun Age is engrossing, important and wonderfully real.

Non-Fiction

Katie Stanton, associate partner

Motherwell: A Girlhood by Deborah Orr
 
In a fantastic feat of self-exploration, the late Guardian journalist, Deborah Orr, unpacks her upbringing, and how her Scottish industrial town shaped her character. Filled with nostalgia, this memoir will take you to your childhood.

India Malkani, design associate

Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton

Don’t let the title deceive you, this isn’t a mushy romance novel. Everything I Know About Love is dense with relatability on enduring the challenges of life; from self-love to family and friendship, heartache to the struggles of being a millennial.
 
You can also pre-order Dolly’s next book and first novel, Ghosts, from Waterstones now.

Iain Gibson, associate partner

Chaucer: A European Life by Marion Turner

Geoffrey Chaucer’s most famous work, The Canterbury Tales, is seared to our national collective consciousness. Unlike most poets from the 14th century, we have significant documented evidence about this London-born son of a wine merchant, his spell in the household of the King’s daughter-in-law, and some of his travails on the continent, including languishing in a French jail after he was captured at the siege of Rheims during the Hundred Years War. This first biography of Chaucer by a woman, Dr Marion Turner, goes beyond the masterpieces that made his name and vividly brings the medieval middle classes to life.

Business and leadership

Harriet Moll, creative director

Manifesto for a Moral Revolution by Jacqueline Novogratz
 
We are capable of so much, if only we care enough. The founder and chief executive of Acumen brings us a practical guide to standing with the poor and doing work worth doing.

Lessons from a War Zone by Louai Al Roumani
 
It was our pleasure to talk to Louai who wrote this remarkable book about his experiences running the strategy of a growing bank in Syria during the bloodiest war of our lifetimes. His advice and learning is often counter-intuitive and very very pertinent for the times we live in.

History

Scott Reid, associate partner

Square Haunting by Francesca Wade
    
One silver lining for many in lockdown has been the chance to get to know their neighbourhood. And for me, Square Haunting – in addition to its billing as the history of five remarkable women who lived on Bloomsbury’s Mecklenburgh Square in London between the wars – was just that; the history of a neighbourhood. Read it for an exciting take on just how important the rooms, buildings and places we find ourselves in at critical points in time can also be to our lives!

Economics

Andrew Wilson, founding partner

Radical Uncertainty: Decision-Making Beyond the Numbers by John Kay and Mervyn King
 
It is true that uncertainty underscores our big decisions. How and when should we buy a house? Expand the business? Pay into a pension? This fascinating book draws on all manner of methods for dealing with an unknowable future. Spoiler alert: numbers are limited; human instinct and wisdom is not.

Might Nature be Canadian? By William A. Macdonald
 
Mutual accommodation is about cooperation, compromise and inclusion. It is a big idea equal to freedom science and compassion. In this book Macdonald looks at the theme through the lens of the Canadian experience. Taking inspiration from British philosopher Alfred North Whitehead who said that “civilisation is the triumph of persuasion over force”, Macdonald argues that the urgent spread of mutual accommodation, a charge led by Canada, is central to achieving a bearable world for everyone. 

Angrynomics by Eric Lonergan and Mark Blyth
 
Considering the majority of people globally are getting steadily richer, why is anxiety on the rise? Why do we feel entrenched unfairness and uncertainty more than ever? In Angrynomics, Lonergan and Blyth explore the power of anger – for good and bad – and propose solutions for an increasingly polarised and confusing world.

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