Making Work, Work

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.

Ashley

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.

Caroline

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.

Dana

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.

Debbie

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.

Jane

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.

Laura

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.

Laure

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.

Naz

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.

Will

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 Hive.co.uk that supports independent bookshops with every single sale they make.

Obelisk In Action

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.

Caroline

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.

Dana

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.

Debbie

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.

Jane

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.”

Katie

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.

Kayleigh

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.

Laure

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).

Lawrance

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.

Louisa

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

Nadya

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!

Naz

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.

Sophie

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.

Will

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

 

 

 

Obelisk In Action

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.