Making Work, Work

Our Favourite Books (and More) for 2020

As we did in 2019,  2018 and 2017, the team at Obelisk Support have contributed to a 2020 book review to inspire your future reading. This year, lockdown prompted some of us to venture into podcasts, so we’ve included those too. We hope that, as well as giving you some inspiration, this list will help you get to know some of us a little bit better. In our own words, here are our favourite books and podcasts for 2020.


The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity and My Fight Against the Islamic State, by Nadia Murad is a harrowing and ultimately inspiring story of survival. Nadia Murad was born and raised in Kocho, a small village of farmers in northern Iraq. She lived a quiet, happy life with her brothers and sisters. On August 15th, 2014, when Nadia was just twenty-one years old, Islamic State militants massacred the people of her village, beginning the events that led to her capture and enslavement. The Last Girl is not just the story of one woman, but a testimony of the entire Yazidi community and everything they have suffered.

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, by Charlie Mackesy is a beautiful book filled with timeless, uplifting messages about friendship, kindness, self-esteem and cake. The story is very simple but profound and the entire book is a genuinely heartfelt experience.

Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood, by Trevor Noah is an eye-opening insight into what it was like to grow up during the Apartheid era. Trevor Noah was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was a crime. He describes his life in poverty, the way he is perceived by society and his struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. Despite the seriousness of the subject, Trevor Noah’s humour shines throughout the entire book.


A Woman by Sibilla Aleramo (translated by Simon Carnell and Erica Segre) is a novel written at the start of the 201th century and out of print since 1982. It was a revelation. It has so much energy in the writing and it is full of tension as it tracks the journey of a young Aleramo through to  motherhood and the challenges that arose within her. Aleramo left her son when he was aged six to write this book “so that my words will reach him”. It was more than 30 years before she would see him again.

People Like Us by Hashi Mohamed. Barrister Hashi Mohamed’s book is about social mobility in the legal profession. He explores the topic also from his own experience, as a child refugee. The book tries to understand how, and why, Britain’s poverty levels are on the rise and why so many leading our institutions and in decision-making roles are privately educated rather than drawn from the majority population (only 7% of people are privately educated yet they dominate the professions, the judiciary, the military and so on). He helps to shed light on why we find ourselves in this shocking situation in a society like Britain, which claims to value fair play and opportunity for all.

A world without work by Daniel Susskind. How and why people work is one of my favourite topics and certainly I have looked into the topic more deeply than any other over the past decade, as I built Obelisk. Susskind looks at the impact of technology and especially AI on the work available for people to do. As more and more jobs are automated, and fewer jobs are available, what role can the governments and institutions play in ensuring work is distributed and the challenges of underemployment start to emerge?

Expert by Roger Kneebone. I first met Roger when he came to give a talk to our clients on much of what this book covers – the time that it takes to become an expert in anything. Roger is a surgeon by training – few jobs have life & death inbuilt into the job description so we can only learn from him on what it takes to be an expert. He looks at many professions and skills and how to reach the level of performance and mastery that is required in them and also what skills to value in the future.


Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. The size of this book allows the author to touch on several subjects and sides of a person’s life; from love to philosophy, to compassion and most predominately self-acceptance. I struggled to put down this partially fictional-autobiography as I found myself immersed in the colourful characters and in the magical India of several years ago.

The New Odyssey – The story of Europe’s Refugee Crisis by Patrick Kingsley. This easy to read book is a powerful exploration of the desperate migrants and refugees looking for a better future. As well as focusing on an individual’s journey from Syria to Sweden, I liked that the author also covers the wider crisis in an in-depth account of the desert routes and the perils migrants face on their journey to escape from corruption and religious extremism. A truly eye-opening book!


How to Wow. This is a relatively new podcast recently launched by Virgin Radio Breakfast Show host Chris Evans. Each episode features a celebrity / high achieving individual who, as Evans puts it “are living proof that if you dream big, put in the hours and keep on showing up, amazing things will happen.” I started to listen to podcasts during the first lockdown, when I would often be walking the same route with our dog most days and needed something to keep me company as well as motivated. His guests so far include Rod Stewart, Caitlin Moran and Bryony Gordon and each episode is about 1.5 hours long.

Postcards from Midlife. Lorraine Candy and Trish Halpin host a very funny and informative podcast series that will sit nicely if you find yourself in that situation of balancing work, elderly parents, your own midlife health changes, as well as the challenges of having teenage children at home. The hosts share their own mid-life journeys, from reinvention, to menopause and living with angst-ridden teens. They also consult various experts on these topics and interview many well known celebrities along the way too.


My book of the year is Five: the untold lives of the women killed by Jack the Ripper, by Hallie Rubenhold (Black Swan, 2020). With meticulous research and touching care for her subjects, the author takes us back to Victorian Britain and describes the lives of Mary Ann “Polly” Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly. Centring the women’s experiences, even down to the contents of their pockets on the day that they died, it is an incredible and engrossing piece of historical and social documentary that addresses the imbalances and inaccuracies in the Ripper mythology. What I found most impactful is how relevant their stories still feel today. Variously, domestic abuse, grief, inadequate education, addiction and systemic financial want led these women into unsafe and unhealthy choices, while society judged them for their supposed moral failings and left them to fend for themselves. 

A women’s entire function was to support men,” writes Rubenhold, “And if the roles of their male family members were to support the roles and needs of men wealthier than them, then the women at the bottom were driven like piles deeper and harder into the ground in order to bear the weight of everyone else’s demands.” With particular resonance in light of the disproportionate impact of the C-19 pandemic on women, especially economically insecure women, this book shows how much the sexist and classist attitudes of the past still exist today.


The Practice of the Wild by Gary Snyder (1990) is one of those rare long-form series of essays of how human culture and nature intersect. Gleaning pearls of wisdom from across the globe and across the centuries, whether they be fifth-century poet Zhiang-yan or modern day Alaska native languages experts, the essays delve deep into the meaning of wilderness. From Zen Buddhism to industrial logging, Snyder’s rich prose looks at our natural world with erudite eyes. At a time when we are rediscovering a profound need for nature, this book published 30 years ago seems to predict many of the environmental issues of our modern world is suffering from today. It also provides much hope, in how our elders have been on better terms with nature.

War of the Roses by Conn Iggulden is a gripping retelling of the War of the Roses in four volumes. In these books, the Welsh historical fiction author brings to life 15th century England, war, discord and scheming included. Weaving several storylines in parallel to follow the intrigue in different places, Iggulden lends pace and depth to a time period obscure to many. Having started his career as a professor of English, Iggulden knows the power of rich descriptions, tactical storytelling and human tragedy. The books read very well, so well in fact that I slowed down at the end of the fourth book to prevent it from ending but it ended anyway.


My favourite books in 2020 have been the Bosch series by Michael Connelly. I have also watched the TV adaptation on Amazon Prime. No one book stands out, but all are great page-turning crime novels, with good characters and interesting plots.


As this year has been a weird one, I decided to engage in listening to more podcasts. One of my favourites is the ‘The Infinite Monkey Cage’. This has been great to have on while working remotely, replacing that ‘buzzing’ noise you hear in the office. While being witty, I enjoy the range of topics discussed.

Another thing that I’ve really enjoyed this year is self-care and self-love. I’ve indulged myself by watching the “Go to bed with me” skincare routines on Harper’s Bazaar YouTube channel. I love how this year we embraced our natural skin, the bare skin trend. It’s refreshing to see that we don’t have to paint ourselves in a beautiful picture-perfect canvas. Being comfortable with our imperfections as humans.

Family & Work

Summer reading for lawyers | From short stories to indie magazines

Summertime and the living is easy, as the song goes. After long working days and a stressful COVID19 crisis, lawyers are looking forward to unwinding and enjoying some well-deserved rest before school starts again. How best to relax than to grab a chair and a book? Or it could also be a magazine and short stories.

After our popular series on podcasts for lawyers, songs for lawyers and blogs for lawyers, here comes our round-up of short stories and indie magazines for lawyers.

Short Stories

Packing a punch in less than 10,000 words and short enough to be read in one sitting, short stories make for a great summer reading experience. It’s fine if you don’t have hours to focus on the plot between breakfast and lunch and you can quickly get away in spirit to faraway lands and places. How do you find short stories?

A good place to start is your local bookstore. Short stories are often by the till, squeezed between snacks and fluffy notepads, the literary equivalent of sour candy by the cashier in supermarkets.


Solid values in short-stories include classic best-sellers.

Having written nearly 400 short stories, Stephen King is certainly a king of the genre, with that thriller / horror twist that make you jump and look around before turning the page. His most famous short stories include Children of the Corn, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, The Body (which became the movie Stand By Me) and The Mist.

Equally known for his novels and short stories, Haruki Murakami is a master of surrealistic and melancholic fiction. His recent collection of short stories Men Without Women features seven stories following the lives of whisky and jazz loving men who, in their own ways, find themselves alone. Expect bleak worlds, moods and atmospheres challenging readers to think deeper about topics that concern us all.

Crime queen Agatha Christie was also a prolific short story writer whose stories first appeared in journals, newspapers and magazines. Readers are spoiled for choice with short stories collections around Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple, or other classics such as The Harlequin Tea Set.

Another short story queen inspired Alfred Hitchcock with her craft. Daphne Du Maurier knew how to craft real people evolving in suspenseful, often supernatural plots. Her most famous short story is certainly The Birds but other pieces like The Doll, Kiss Me Again, Stranger or Monte Verita will satisfy any craving for imaginative, if unsettling, short fiction.

Other notorious short story writers include Edgar Allan Poe, Jack London, Louise Erdrich and Virginia Woolf.

Modern Short Stories

Every year, the BBC and Cambridge University sponsor the BBC national short story award (NSSA) whose five shortlisted stories are recorded, produced and broadcast by BBC Radio 4 as well as published as the BBC NSSA anthology. The winning story is usually published in its entirety in The Guardian and makes for excellent prose to read on the go. Recent winning stories include The Invisible by Joe Lloyd (2019),  The Sweet Sop by Ingrid Persaud (2018) and The Edge of the Shoal by Cynan Jones (2017).

Reflecting on reflects the contemporary development of the African story-telling tradition, the AKO Caine Prize is an annual literary award for the best original short story by an African writer, whether in Africa or elsewhere, but published in the English language. In 2020, Nigerian-British author Irenosen Okojie won for her short story about a Grace Jones impersonator with a dark secret.


At a time when the UK creative arts sector is hit so hard, readers can support publishers by buying independent magazines that reflect the wide variety of opinions and views that make our society so rich. Who knows, you might even discover your new favourite magazine.

The titles listed below can usually be bought from their websites. Shops that stock independent magazines include:

  • Magma Books, London (their Manchester branch is temporarily closed)
  • Stack offers subscriptions with a different magazine each month
  • Waterstones bookshops
  • Newsagents

Here is our short selection of great magazines for curious minds, looking out to the world even if locked down somewhere.

This London-based magazine has covered British contemporary art since 1976 and is Britain’s longest-running contemporary art magazine. From interviews to exhibition reviews, Art Monthly helps art lovers keep their finger on the pulse. They can also listen to Art Monthly Talk Show, the magazine’s monthly podcast on Resonance FM.

Prospect Magazine

A general-interest British magazine, Prospect brings to its readers ideas and trends behind the headlines and a contrarian view of topics. While other magazines deliver on general interest topics, Prospect is one of the few publications to feature mostly long essays, interspersed with quick reads, recurring columns and other type of reporting. Think of it as The New Yorker, London version. Adding to our list of short stories above, Prospect has also published the winning short story of the Royal Society of Literature’s V. S. Pritchett Memorial Prize since 2009.

The Dawntreader

Small indie publishers are facing difficulties and you can help them out by buying a book or ordering a magazine. How more intriguing does it get than a small Devon-based literary magazine publishing poetry, prose and articles on myth, nature, spirituality and the environment? The Dawntreader gives readers the “opportunity to let the imagination run free”. Surely, an invitation to travel in spirit is very welcome after recent stressful months.

Cocoa Girl Magazine

Only a few months old, Cocoa Girl Magazine was born during lockdown when a mother searched for magazines that represented her six-year-old daughter Faith. Lack of diversity led them to embark on designing and printing the first ever UK magazine for young black girls aged seven to 14. True to its young demographic, Cocoa Girl only uses Instagram to communicate on social media with readers.

The Scots Magazine

If you’ve been dreaming of a Scottish Highlands fix but still can’t get there, The Scots Magazine can probably help with that. Allegedly the oldest magazine in the world (first published in 1739), The Scots magazine is the world’s best-selling Scottish-interest publication, containing articles on culture, history, nature and more., and is targeted at Scots at home and abroad. If you’re on Netflix, you’ll understand why the magazine needs to have an Outlander dedicated page with all things Diana Gabaldon, Jamie and Clare.

Country Walking

From the same publisher as Trail, Country Walking covers a ‘softer’ range of walking than its mountain-heavy sister mag, with the emphasis more on cream teas than crampons. Coastal strolls and lowland rambles sit alongside hilly and mountainous walking at the more forgiving end of the spectrum. Regular themed walks are especially fun, as well as the December issue that makes you feel like it’s winter wonderland all across the UK (gorgeous snowy pictures too). Last but not least: every month, Country Walking publishes 27 walks all across the country, printed on handy cut-out-and-keep cards.

Enjoy your reading!

Trending Women in Law

6 Female Lawyers turned Authors

That lawyers have an ongoing love affair with words, nobody can argue with that. A significant part of a lawyer’s career is spent writing text, structuring arguments, analysing documents and being a stickler for punctuation. What most people are unaware of, is that many lawyers have an intense creative life back at home. At Obelisk Support, our consultants are also vegan gurus, rugby coaches, interior designers, DJs or novelists. Every year for World Book Day, we feature lawyers who are authors on The Attic. In the past, we’ve interviewed a space lawyer turned science fiction author and a sole practitioner turned romance novelist. This year’s selection of female lawyers turned authors will make you rethink your idea of lawyers.

#1 Caro Fraser

A former commercial and maritime lawyer, Caro Fraser is known for unbeatable plotting and characterisation in her novels. Whether she writes about post-WW2 family picnics or the lives and loves of a group of London barristers, she has a knack for immersing her readers in a different world.

While her Caper Court series will appeal to lawyers who wish to read about other lawyers (barristers, really), armchair time-travellers will revel in her recent Summer House series featuring the 1930s English upper class in a country house. She wrote romance novels that she described as “romantic fiction for the thinking woman”, certainly another way to use legal brains for sheer entertainment value.

#2 Meg Gardiner

Celebrated crime writer Meg Gardiner read law at Stanford Law School and after graduation, practiced law in Los Angeles before returning to Santa Barbara where she taught writing and legal research at the University of California. Similar to John Grisham, Meg Gardiner writes legal thrillers that tend to be well received and go on to be bestsellers. She gives readers what they want, aka page-turning thrillers with serial killers as a bonus (inspired by real baddies, which adds to the thrills).

Did you know that she relocated to the United Kingdom with her family in the 1990s? It was during her free time in the UK that she wrote her first novel, completing a task that she had set for herself over 10 years earlier. Asked why she likes to write thrillers, her answer was: “Thrillers throw characters in the soup. They demand that characters dig deep and fight back – or die trying. I love writing stories in which people have to do that.”

#3 Marjorie M. Liu

Not all lawyer-authors write law-inspired books that take place in real life. Marjorie M. Liu is best known for writing comic books for Marvel, epic fantasies whose characters may live in a universe wracked by a race war and inhabited by violent witch-nuns, vicious deities, and innocent civilians. Definitely not your run-of-the-mill legal book.

Of course, her career could have panned out very differently. Liu read law at the University of Wisconsin where she received her J.D. and although she loved law school and her internship at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, she was working at a law firm when the sale of her first book convinced her to switch careers. Coming from an immigrant family, she was torn about walking away from the law into an uncertain writing career, but determined to make it. She is now a New York Times bestselling and award-winning writer best known for her fiction (paranormal romance and urban fantasy novels) and comic books. Teaching comic book writing at MIT, she redefines strong female characters in fantasy worlds. If you want to see her, you might get lucky at ComicCon events around the world.

#4 Theodora Goss

Harvard Law School alumna, Theodora Goss did not enjoy being a lawyer, revising corporate contracts until 2 a.m. while deeply in educational debt. Understandably, as soon as she paid back her law school loans, she turned her focus to one true love, literature. Now a creative writing teacher, she is best known for her short stories and poetry, as well as for her Gothic fiction novels.

In The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daugh­ter, a mashup based on of some of literature’s most famous horror and sci-fi classics, she writes about creating female monsters from a Victorian science fiction point of view. In Red as Blood and White as Stone, she writes a compelling, somewhat dark (but not too dark) fairy tale, interwoven with pre-, during-, and post-WW2 interludes. If you enjoy blending several different genre types, historical, fantasy and magical realism, you will definitely enjoy Goss’ books.

#5 Lisa Scottoline

A former corporate lawyer, Lisa Scottoline decided to change careers for family reasons. The birth of her daughter pushed her to give up her career in the law firm and become a full-time writer, a choice that shaped her life and opened new horizons. Now a New York Times bestselling author and Edgar award-winning author of 32 novels, she captivates readers with popular fiction whose characters are warm and down-to-earth.

Having sold over nine million copies in the United States, she is recognised internationally as her work has been published in 23 countries. Besides publishing like clockwork at the rate of a book per year, Scottoline is the president of the Mystery Writers of America and writes, together with her daughter Francesca Serritella (yes, the same one – and also a bestselling author), a weekly column on the Philadelphia Enquirer titled “Chick Wit”.

#6 Melinda Snodgrass

Trekkies would not be able to boldly go where no Spock or Scottie precursors have been before without Melinda Snodgrass. A celebrated science fiction writer, Snodgrass wrote several episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation while serving as the series’ story editor during its second and third seasons. She also contributed scripts for the series Odyssey 5, The Outer Limits, SeaQuest DSV, and Reasonable Doubts; she was also a consulting producer on The Profiler.

Where does law fit in all this outer space lark? After studying opera at the Conservatory of Vienna in Austria, Snodgrass went on to read law at University of New Mexico School of Law. She practised law for three years, first at Sandia National Laboratories, then at a corporate law firm, but discovered that while she loved the law she wasn’t terribly fond of lawyers. So she began writing. In addition to her successful writing career, she is the executive producer on the upcoming Wild Cards shows being developed for Hulu, a series she started writing with George R. R. Martin in 1984.


Making Work, Work

Our Favourite Books For 2019

Like in 2017 and 2018, the whole team at Obelisk Support is contributing to a 2019 book review to inspire your future reads. Each one of us was asked to nominate one (or more) book(s) they had really enjoyed reading in 2019 and to explain why they recommend it. We hope that you will find reading inspiration in this list and that through our book recommendations, you will get to know us a little bit better. In our own words, here are our favourite books for 2019.

Team choice

As a team supporting our partner charity Spark21 and The First 100 Years project, we are thrilled to support FIRST: 100 Years of Women in Law. Marking the centenary of the 1919 Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act, FIRST tells the story of women in law in their first 100 years of practice. From early campaigners through to the first women solicitors, barristers, magistrates and judges, the book tells the often untold stories of the pioneers, reformers and influencers who paved the way, revealing the barriers they faced, their challenges and triumphs. It offers a unique insight into how women have made their way in a profession still dominated by men and looks ahead to the prospects for women in law in the next 100 years.


The book I’ve read this year which has stayed with me most is Wild by Cheryl Strayed. It is raw in both a literal sense, involving a young woman hiking 4,000 km through the unforgiving but breathtaking scenery of the Pacific Crest Trail, and figuratively, as she reflects on the loss of her mother and the subsequent tailspin her life took. It reminds us that some scars, physical and emotional, may never fade, or even stop hurting, but they nevertheless make us who we are.


I recently read Phantoms in the Brain by V.S. Ramachandran which explores the weird and wacky ways in which the brain makes sense of the world, particularly surrounding phantom limbs and how the brain can manufacture its own form of reality to deal with trauma. I am always drawn to non-fiction books about psychology and the brain, I also really enjoyed reading Henry Marsh’s books this year — Do No Harm and Admissions: A Life in Brain Surgery.


I’ve been reading quite a lot of Agatha Christie lately – for no other reason than it is great plots with great writing. I’ve been through pretty much been the whole collection one by one. The ABC murders and Death on the Nile are some of my favourites.


More Than Enough | Claiming space for who you are (No matter what they say) is the book that definitely did it for me this year! It’s a book about black girl magic and what happens when we claim our space in our personal and professional lives. There are so many experiences that Elaine has that black women can identify with and it was great to read a book where you are constantly nodding your head in agreement or laughing out loud because you had the same experience. In a world where you don’t often see yourself reflected back at you, especially in the workspace, this book was uplifting and affirmation to keep going and to surround yourself with allies (who don’t need to look like you!).

Superior: The Return of Race Science by Angela Saini was also a game changer for me. It shows how race is a human construct and how there is no science behind it but it’s really more scientists trying to twist the science to promote racism, thinking we’re all stupid enough to believe their lies. The book dissects the historical and political roots of race, why scientists can’t seem to look beyond it, and the disturbing ways in which scientific racism still exists today.


I really liked This Is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay. It is an easy read and very funny in parts, although I understand some have found his writing to be rather tasteless and disrespectful. It is uncomfortable reading at times, but I have to admit that I really enjoyed the humorous insights into his daily life; why he loved it his job and what lead him to ultimately leave the profession.


My pick is How To Have A Good Day: The Essential Toolkit for a Productive Day at Work and Beyond by Caroline Webb. This has been out for a couple of years but every time I read it (and I do keep coming back to it), I pick up a new tip to build into my working day. Caroline Webb makes the science behind effective work behaviours easy to digest and focuses on the practical; sharing relatable anecdotes and case studies that help you put her sound advice into practice.


I read mostly nature non-fiction and really enjoyed Outpost: A Journey to the Wild Ends of the Earth by Dan Richards. Traveling around the world from a cabin in Iceland to a research station in the Utah desert designed to prepare astronauts for life on Mars, Richards searches for remote traces of human habitation on the edge of wilderness. For each of the places, the author interweaves why he picked this particular spot, how he eventually got there and human history that make these places special. The book is a wonderful armchair travel book for outdoor lovers.

In a different style, I also enjoyed Man vs Ocean by Adam Walker. Beyond the inspiration – Adam Walker is the first British man to have swam the famously tough Oceans Seven challenge – it helped me get in the spirit of training for my long-distance swim across the length of Windermere this year.


Since I couldn’t pick only one, here are the three books I enjoyed most in 2019:

  • Love Your Lunch by Bec Dickinson: This book has made me look forward to my lunch each time, when I do have time to prep in advance that is. I love that the recipes are simple and clearly outlines which are vegetarian, vegan, gluten free etc for those of us with dietary requirements.
  • Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon: If you’ve hit a creativity wall in your career or life, give this book a try. I’ve found it inspiring, funny and beautifully designed with such a simple concept. My favourite quotes from the book “Don’t wait until you know who you are to start making things” and “Be nice (the world is a small town.)
  • Natural Remedies (Try It!) By Laurel Vukovic: I really got into natural and organic beauty this year. Natural Remedies (Try It) is a great starting point for beginners wanting to lead a more holistic lifestyle with 1001 remedies on natural beauty, health, home care and pet care. The recipes are short and to the point with usually less than 10 ingredients needed.


My book choice 2019 – Scott Mariani – Star of Africa/Devil’s Kingdom two part series. The Ben Hope character provides for good escapism and fast-paced novels, perfect for unwinding! Not everybody’s taste I’m sure, but I have read about 16 now so good for me. If you enjoy the Jack Reacher novels from Lee Child, you’ll love these!

Note: If you can’t source these books from your local bookstore, you can order them via that supports independent bookshops with every single sale they make.

Obelisk In Action

Our Favourite Books For 2018

Like in 2017, the whole team at Obelisk Support is contributing to a 2018 book review to inspire your future reads. Each one of us was asked to nominate one (or more) books or blogs they had really enjoyed reading in 2018 and to explain why they recommend it. We hope that you will find this list enjoyable and that through our book recommendations, you will get to know us a little bit better. In our own words, here are our favourite 2018 reads.


At the start of the year, I read Shami Chakrabarti’s book called Of Women – looking at the status of women throughout the world and how gender inequality is the biggest inequality over any other around the globe. Not exactly a laugh a minute, but really interesting! Otherwise I enjoyed light witty autobiographies like Sarah Millican’s How to be champion which is just daft but fun and nice before going to sleep.


Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is a book by Yuval Noah Harari and The Internationalists: And Their Plan to Outlaw War by Oona Hathaway.


On the book reads for 2018 – would you believe me if I told you that I have not finished reading a single book that I started this year 🙄 which when I think about it, is actually a great way to sum up the year that I have had and how I’m feeling generally!

If I could recommend books, they would be Becoming by Michelle Obama, Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, Sapiens A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari.


How hard can it be? by Allison Pearson is an easy read that has plenty of laughs, but at the same time touches on some very real challenges of dealing with ageism, ageing parents, living with teenagers and re-engaging as a working parent. As the main character, Kate Reddy’s life seems particularly hectic compared to most people I know, but perhaps this makes more of an entertaining holiday read. She makes some great observations about family life and has hilarious descriptions for some of the things that happen to her. This book is a sequel to her first novel, “I Don’t Know How She Does.”


My fav 2 books I have read this year- Familiar Strangers by Callum Noad -really enjoyed reading this because I had no idea what was going to happen next, although its a bit far-fetched! (also- the author is my friend and I had no idea he was good at writing, I was really impressed!). The other book is called The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Bar– it’s sad at times but also really heartwarming.


I finally got around to reading The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman, the story of Antonina and Jan Zabinski earlier this year. Antonia and her husband Jan, proprietors of Warsaw Zoo during the Second World War, are two ordinary people who carried out acts of real heroism at great personal risk to themselves. The book does more than simply bring that human story of resilience to life, it also goes into great detail about the ideology and use of scientific and sociological reasoning that led to that awful dark time in history and how ordinary humans can also be convinced to endorse and carry out the most inhuman acts. Some of the detail about animal species is quite lengthy, so if it’s not an area of interest your mind could wander, but I felt it created an apt jarring effect against the descriptions of horror that were frequently happening around them.


Silence: In the Age of Noise by Norwegian explorer Erling Kagge made me think about the meaning of noise and silence in our busy lives. I had never thought of inner silence as the key of happiness or silence as a means to communicate with others, but the author does raise some very interesting points. Having climbed Everest and trekked solo to the South Pole, he knows a thing or two about silence and his thesis is quite inspiring in a ‘less is more’ way if you are looking for ways to find peace within yourself. For a more uplifting read, I really enjoyed The Gates of Rome by Conn Iggulden, the first book in a 5-book series about the life of Gaius Julius Caesar. It’s strong on world building and as a result, scenes set in Ancient Rome feel quite authentic. It’s also a lively (if not completely historically accurate) portrayal of a society where gladiators, slaves and citizens shared the same land with very different rights (or absence of rights).


I loved Third World Child: Born White, Zulu Bred by GG Alcock recently. GG Alcock and his brother Rauri grew up on the bank of the Tugela River in Msinga in rural KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa and this book is about growing up in a rural South African community and moving to the city.


War on Peace by Ronan Farrow is an insightful book that draws on access to high-level people in the know.


Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour by Kate Fox is a fun book to read on cold or rainy days inside. It is a must for those wanting to get a better understanding of unspoken rules of English behaviour. Kate Fox offers light-hearted yet insightful observations of the English culture and habits. What an enjoyable read!


Surprisingly, I haven’t read a book this year (not that I can recall anyway). Instead my goals have be focussed on self development, motivation and a bit of zen. A healthy mind starts with a healthy body and I’ve found vegetarian food blog Naturally Ella helpful. What I like about the blog is the option to “Explore an Ingredient” and finding healthy recipes for it, handy when you have the extra sweet potato lying around.


A book I loved recently was Snap by Belinda Bauer. An easy to read crime novel with a great story and some fabulous characters. I’m also enjoying my cookery book – Made in India by Meera Sodha – it’s a gorgeous book with lovely inspiring photos and the recipes are easy to follow and very delicious.


The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult is a great story around an horrific subject, beautifully written by a great writer.




Obelisk In Action

Our Favourite Books For 2017

This year, the whole team at Obelisk Support is contributing to a 2017 book review to inspire your future reads. Each one of us was asked to nominate one (or two) books they had really enjoyed reading in 2017 and to explain why they recommend it. We hope that you will find this list enjoyable and that through our book recommendations, you will get to know us a little bit better. As our logo proudly states, we are Human First.

In no particular order, here are the favourite books we read in 2017…

Book #1 Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone

By Brené Brown

Book #2 Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy

By Sheryl Sandberg

#1 and #2 are recommended by Debbie Tembo, Client Relationship Manager

Why they are worth reading

These books are by women for everyone – encouraging more of us to live brave courageous lives and to stand in our truth more. To take more moments to remember the simple pleasures in life and that no matter how hopeless the world can seem some times, there is always an option b that requires living bravely in order to thrive.

Book #3: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

By Gail Honeyman

Recommended by Sophie Seymour, Operations Officer

Why it’s worth reading

It’s a great book with really wonderful characters and brilliant observations. I found myself thinking about it a lot when I wasn’t reading it and really missing the central characters when I finished it. Two other brilliant books this year are My name is Leon by Kit De Waal and A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.

Books #4, 5 & 6: The Woods | Missing You | Six Years

By Harlen Coben

Recommended by Naz Khanom, Technical Support Analyst

Why they are worth reading

The genre for these three books are crime thriller. I love how Harlen Coben has made me excited to read and how the plots slowly unravel keeping me completely hooked. I love these books because I took them on my holidays this year. It whisks me back to reading on the sandy beaches of Tenerife, the feeling of blissfulness when being immersed into a whole new world for a couple of hours.

Book #7: Strange the Dreamer

By Laini Taylor

Recommended by Laure Latham, Marketing Manager

Why it’s worth reading

I love fantasy and this book took me on the most wonderful mind voyage, to the arid sands of a desert where the city of Weep is crushed by the shadow of a floating fortress in the shape of a seraphim. Beyond the setting, Laini Taylor is a great storyteller and Strange the Dreamer is first and foremost a tragic love story. It left me wanting for more so after I finished this book, I read the first trilogy by the same author, Daughter of Smoke and Bone and loved it just as much. Definitely recommended for all ages.

Book #8: The Racketeer

By John Grisham

Recommended by Kayleigh Ziolo, The Attic Editor

Why it’s worth reading

I resolved this year to try to read more regularly for sheer enjoyment, and decided to revisit John Grisham for a non-put-downable read with plenty of twists and turns. This ticked the boxes – slightly implausible in parts, but that at least added a sense of fun. It left me eager for another entertaining revenge-heist thriller to devour, so it helped me stick to my resolution!

Book #11: Let It Go

By Dame Stephanie Shirley

Recommended by Dana Denis-Smith, CEO

Why it’s worth reading

This book is like reading the Obelisk story in reverse. It brings to mind not just the entrepreneurial story but the constant juggle of parenting and work; and also how focus can achieve success but you don’t have to compromise on your integrity. I always loved her promise to herself that she had to make her life a life worth saving. We should all have a motto that we live by.

Book #12: Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls

By Rebel Girls

Recommended by Dana Denis-Smith, CEO

Why it’s worth reading

It’s a lovely introduction to the history of women. I love the colours and pictures and that they are snippets, it’s a beginning of the story and told well – I hope a lot of boys get given it.

Book #13: The Four Hour Work Week

By Tim Ferris

Recommended by Lawrance Shepstone, Technology Director

Why it’s worth reading

A refreshing, possibly idealistic look at living and working from anywhere and why it’s important, how to adjust your mindset and those around you to focus on performance, and best of all, examples of how it’s all done.

Book #14: The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down

By Haemin Sunim

Recommended by Jane Leader, Recruitment Co-ordinator

Why it’s worth reading

I liked it because I needed something I could dip in and out of in bed at night (too tired to read anything serious!) and this book just had some nice insights and was thought provoking.

Book #15: My Name is Lucy Barton

By Elizabeth Strout

Recommended by Lucinda Acland, Community Manager

Why it’s worth reading

This is an unusual book dealing with the uneven landscape of family relationships- in particular mother and daughter love from childhood to motherhood. It’s written in a spare, thought- provoking style which deftly encompasses the range of complicated ambivalent feelings of love and loss in families.

Book #16: Strong Woman

By Karren Brady

Recommended by Lucy Paton, Key Account Manager

Why it’s worth reading

A good insight into the struggles for women in business, exploring Brady’s successes and juggling a family with a successful business. Quite inspiring.

Book #17: Bury Me Behind the Baseboard

By Pavel Sanaev

Recommended by Nadya Kirichenko, Client Delivery Manager

Why it’s worth reading

It’s very funny and sad at the same time, as well as very well written. “An autobiographical story about family, love, madness, violence, and trauma—told from the view of an eight-year-old boy—it shook Russia to the core as a surprising portrait of a generation, unveiling the madness of family structures familiar to everybody. Touchingly naïve, tragic, and incredibly funny at the same time” – Alina Bronsky.

Book #18: The Master of Petersburg

By J. M. Coetzee

Recommended by Nadya Kirichenko, Client Delivery Manager

Why it’s worth reading

This something I stumbled across and really liked – features Dostoevsky and links to St Petersburg.

Book #19: The Story of Art

By E. H. Gombrich

Recommended by Nadya Kirichenko, Client Delivery Manager

Why it’s worth reading

This is my go to reference book when it comes to art history.