As we reach the height of summer, now may be a time for us all to reflect on the events of the past months. No one could have predicted going into 2020 that we would see London, along with other major cities across the globe, grind to a halt as a result of a worldwide pandemic. While not ideal, remaining in-doors for a prolonged period has been a small price to pay to limit the spread of COVID-19. Indeed, it has given many – including the JPES team – the opportunity to expand their literary horizons!

Lodovico Sanseverino, Client Director: “A woman of no importance” by Sonia Purnell

“This brilliantly written book combines two of my favourite genres, old school spy stories and biographies. It chronicles the heroic actions of Virginia Hall, MI6’s and CIA’s first-ever female field agent, who managed to infiltrate Nazi-occupied France in WWII and lead French Resistance movements to victory, despite her considerable disability and sexist prejudice.”

Leanne Tsang, Client Director: “Catch Me If You Can, Frank Abagnale with Stan Redding”

“The original that inspired the Stephen Spielberg film of the same name. Frank Abagnale writes about his almost countless cons in a larger-than-life account of his playboy lifestyle funded by a series of cons, forgeries and false identities. A fast-paced narrative that makes this book almost impossible to put down!”

Dr Faith Garrett, Senior Client Executive: “An Economist Walks into a Brothel” by Allison Schrager

“Allison Schrager certainly has a fascinating way of exploring how people manage risk. In this book, she explains how to measure and maximise risk by looking at some of the biggest risk takers: from professional poker players to paparazzi, and yes, analysis what she dubs ‘brothel-nomics’. She gives a good interview too for you podcast listeners, check out The Indicator, What Sex Work Reveals About Risk”.

Anatoly La Pere, Business Intelligence Analyst: “A Random Walk Down Wall Street: The Time-Tested Strategy for Successful Investing” by Burton G Malkiel

“Malkiel explains why passive investment strategies are the way to successful investing. Going through all types of investment strategies, it is broad index funds (e.g. SP 500, NASDAQ) that have outperformed all others.”

Ben Willy, Client Executive: “Divided: Why we’re living in an age of walls” by Tim Marshall

“This book aims to explain why nationalism, identity politics and reinforced borders are on the rise all around the world. It does this through examining these topics in specific regions, with each space informing its own chapter (such as the USA and the UK). I think this question of the “rise of the right” (or the rise of national populism) is one of the most intriguing as well as pressing trends in politics, so hopefully this will give me a useful introduction, especially in (geo)political contexts I’m not so familiar with.”

Julian Samways, Founder and Managing Director: “From Crime to Crime” by Sir Richard Henriques QC

“Crime to Crime recreates some of his most famous cases from prosecuting Harold Shipman and the killers of Jamie Bulger to presiding from the High Court bench over trials of the transatlantic airline plot, the Morecambe Bay cockle pickers and killing of Jean Charles de Mendes. He also includes trenchant views on the state of the British judicial system; how it works – or doesn’t – and the current threats to the rule of law that affect us all.”

Lily Newman-Kelly, Senior Client Executive: “Girl, Woman, Other” by Bernardine Evaristo

“Girl, Woman, Other is a novel that follows the very different and extraordinary lives, and struggles encountered, by twelve different characters across generations and different social classes. The characters that feature in the novel are mostly black British women, and this book has been featured recently in numerous educational and BLM reading lists and is written in a way that not only draws you further into the individual characters and their stories, but succeeds in generating a large amount of inner thought and self-reflection.”

Miles Donohoe, Director: “Life After Life” by Kate Atkinson

“Life After Life could be seen as the start of a trilogy by Kate Atkinson, all set around WWII and its aftermath. Atkinson returns to the magical realism genre that she became so well known for with Behind the Scenes at the Museum and Human Croquet. The protagonist, Ursula Todd, dies in a variety of ways throughout the book, living a number of alternative possible lives. At one point she even falls victim to the Spanish flu epidemic four times before eventually averting it altogether.”

Duncan Lamb, Director: “The Uncommon Type” by Tom Hanks

“I’ve been jumping between different books during lockdown, but I keep coming back to Tom Hanks’ “The Uncommon Type.” A collection of seventeen short stories, that vary from a World War II veteran dealing with his emotional and physical scars, to the tale of a second-rate actor plunged into sudden stardom and a whirlwind press junket. It’s very annoying that he is both a great actor and can also write incredibly well!”

Adam Kirby, Associate Director: “The Mirror & the Light” by Hilary Mantel

“In a divided country, at odds with Europe and facing waves of instability, inequality, disease and sexual politics… what do you read? Mantel’s masterpiece follows the nearly-lovable antihero Thomas Cromwell to the final and dramatic conclusion of her Tudor trilogy, set in a time when the end-of-days and a new ‘golden age’ feel just a page apart.”

Thomas Green, Senior Client Manager: “Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness” by Richard Thaler & Cass R Sunstein

“I’d always heard positive things about Richard Thaler’s work and having studied nudge theory as part of my politics degree, this has been a great read. Whether I will find a practical application for Thaler’s findings remains to be seen, but it is interesting to see how small adjustments can impact people’s behaviour so drastically.”

Stephen Collins, Client Manager: “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

“As potentially one of the most important figures of the 21st century, I have loved learning about Steve Jobs’ back story through Walter Iaascon’s book. While it is clear that he could be a particularly difficult person, his genius, perfectionism, and passion cannot be ignored. I would happily recommend this book to anyone as a must-read.”

Matt Rogers, Director: “House of Cards” by Michael Dobbs

“As a politics graduate, I have always been fascinated by the working of Westminster, Washington and the like. Admittedly fictional, an insight into the workings within the corridors of power – and one that seems strangely pertinent in current times!”