What's Oaktree Reading: 2021 Year-End Book Recommendations
Books help us make sense of a rapidly changing world – something we’ve all needed to do over the last 12 months, as we’ve navigated radically reshaped business and cultural landscapes. Check out ten books that helped Oaktree employees better understand topics ranging from planning a better meeting to creating a satisfying life.
A Short History of Financial Euphoria by John Kenneth Galbraith
This short book provides a very good description of the way market participants’ psychology swings to extremes. And it really is short! But I’d suggest you disregard the gratuitously negative comments on high yield bonds at the end.
How to Avoid A Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need by Bill Gates
Priya Prasad Bowe
Head of ESG
Gates does a great job helping readers grasp the magnitude of change that must occur to reduce the world’s carbon footprint. He also uses clear and accessible language to describe the technology currently available to help mitigate the problem. I highly recommend the book to anyone contemplating the role of private capital and individual decision making in addressing the climate crisis.
Ten Drugs: How Plants, Powders, and Pills Have Shaped the History of Medicine by Thomas Hager
Chief Executive Officer
I listened to this book on Audible during a long drive to Northern California. It piqued my interest given the broad debate about Covid-19 vaccines and vaccine mandates. The book is a non-“geeky academic” review of the ten drugs/drug families that have shaped the history of medicine and, in turn, world history, culture, markets and economies. It was interesting to learn how medical breakthroughs sometimes arose from a researcher’s genius insight and at other times from an unexpected but welcome side effect discovered during clinical drug trials. Also, the book explores the huge impact of big pharma and money on drug discovery. Worth a read.
The Family Firm: A Data-Driven Guide to Better Decision Making in the Early School Years by Emily Oster
Senior Vice President, Client Relations; Co-lead of Aiding Caregivers & Parents at Oaktree Through Resources and Networks (ACORN)
This book provides a useful framework for people with early-school-aged kids who are thinking through family and parenting matters. Oster provides well-written summaries of existing academic research and statistics about topics relevant to many families. I’ve been a fan of her data-driven approach to parenting since she wrote Expecting Better in 2014 (especially when she gave a green light to consuming sushi and coffee while pregnant), and I’ve also appreciated her more recent pandemic-focused advice.
The Caesars Palace Coup: How a Billionaire Brawl Over the Famous Casino Exposed the Power and Greed of Wall Street by Max Frumes and Sujeet Indap
Head of Corporate Communications and Branding
This is a fascinating treatment of one of the most complex, contentious restructurings of the 21st century. Frumes and Indap conducted in-depth research and interviews with many key players. By developing characters and plot, the authors make the esoteric world of chapter 11 restructurings relatable and accessible. As an added bonus, Oaktree’s Opportunities funds, which played a key role in the case, are discussed in the book. I'm proud to say that our team is shown to be upholding many of Oaktree’s core business principles, even in a challenging environment.
The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters by Priya Parker
Senior Vice President, Direct Lending
I initially picked up the book to look for tips on how to conduct better Zoom calls, as I, like many, have been working from home for roughly two years, isolated from friends and colleagues. But the author’s human-centered perspective on gatherings offers much more than that. She argues that even the most mundane meetings can become transformative experiences when we focus less on convention and more on the people involved – making everyone feel comfortable and giving them space to engage and be authentic. The invaluable lessons in this book make it worthy of a re-read.
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat
Senior Financial Writer
Cooking should be simple: there is a recipe, after all. But things inevitably go wrong. The garlic burns. The mayonnaise breaks. You overmix the batter because you have no idea what folding means. Nosrat explains why blindly following instructions is often the problem. Knowing what to do isn’t enough; to create something excellent, you need to know why. And this why is rooted in basic principles. While Nosrat may appear to be offering simple lessons (e.g., taste your pasta water!), what she’s actually doing is describing the difficult task of mastering a craft. In her case, it’s cooking, but the deeper lessons are applicable outside the kitchen.
Undiversified: The Big Gender Short in Investment Management by Ellen Carr and Katrina Dudley
Jerilyn Castillo Mcaniff
Head of Diversity & Inclusion
Undiversified discusses the underrepresentation of women in investment management and provides specific examples of how the industry might address this serious problem. Carr and Dudley provide insights from interviews they conducted with many professionals at different seniority levels and share quite a bit of important data. This book is a great starting point for financial organizations looking to raise awareness and implement programs and strategies to add gender diversity to their teams.
The Three-Body Problem trilogy by Cixin Liu
Senior Vice President, European Senior Loans and High Yield Bonds
This fascinating mix of hard science fiction, political science, history, and psychology explains what happens to life as we know it when we suddenly realize there’s another life form beyond our solar system. It was a difficult read during the pandemic, as the plot hit a bit too close to home at times. But it made me take a step back and consider the forces that motivate us and move us forward as a species. I hope they make a movie of it one day because it will be as epic as Dune.
The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott
Vice President, Client Relations
This thoughtful, informative, and inspiring book is published by two professors from my alma mater, London Business School. Gratton and Scott explain how people might spend their 100-year lives and how the structure of work is changing. I have recommended this book to two friends. After reading the book, one of them decided to take a year-long sabbatical and sail the Pacific Ocean. The other quit her job and found a new one; she told me it was due to this book recommendation!
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