Politics & Economics
The Cartoon Introduction to Economics Volume Two - Macroeconomics by Grady Klein and Yoram Bauman
Unlikely as it may sound, The Cartoon Introduction to Economics is the latest attempt to make bedroom reading out of "the dismal science". Following on from Volume One (which is on microeconomics), the book draws on the the talents of cartoonist Grady Klein and self-proclaimed "stand-up economist" Yoram Bauman to explain fundamental economic theory in a comic book format. This idea proves to be more than just a gimmick, however, and after a few chapters, the knowledge starts flowing in amid some (genuinely amusing) jokes. An easy and entertaining read for anyone struggling to get to grips with this tricky topic.
Escobar: The Inside Story of Pablo Escobar, the World's Most Powerful Criminal. As told by his brother, Roberto Escobar
Pablo Escobar was one of the creators of the hugely powerful MedellÃn cocaine cartel, notorious for its corrosive effect on Colombian justice and politics and the extreme violence that characterised the vicious drug wars it engendered. This book, based on interviews with his brother and chief accountant, reveals Escobar to have also been an inventive businessman and organisational genius, who carefully considered issues like what to do with his vast reserves of cash, or how to cost effectively bribe airport officials. Also examined is his status as a Robin Hood figure for the Colombian poor. The book ultimately leaves its subject as an unsolved puzzle, but it does question conventional notions of corporate rights and wrongs in its portrayal of a endemically unfair and brutal society.
Banking & Finance
Capital by John Lanchester
Capital is one of the most comprehensive fictional takes on the financial crisis to date. Lanchester's title has multiple potential meanings, a fact that is reflected in the organisation of his narrative around the various inhabitants of an upwardly mobile South London residential street and the way in which this device allows him to range over the financial crisis geographically, temporally and socially. His characters - including a banker, a Polish builder, various members of a Muslim family, a dying elderly woman, a conceptual artist, a Zimbabwean asylum seeker, and a young Senegalese footballer - reflect the texture of today's London, and their short and self-absorbed narratives effectively evoke the various desires of its inhabitants that allowed 2008's banking catastrophe to erupt.
You Can't Read This Book: Censorship in an Age of Freedom by Nick Cohen
If I were to ask a group of 100 British citizens whether they thought they were protected by the right to free speech, a large proportion would say: "yes". Nick Cohen's excellent account of censorship in the UK picks apart the laws and customs in our society that suggest otherwise. Superinjunctions and gagging orders are nowadays de rigeur, and Britain has become the libel capital of the world, with oligarchs and imams taking those who condemn them to task in the UK because it's the only jurisdiction that will hear their case. Cohen's fascinating argument exposes the flaws in our legal system and the "liberals" who claim to support free speech on the one hand while taking it away with the other.
Consulting & Professional Services
Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men Who Stole the World by Nicholas Shaxson
Treasure Islands is proof that the often maligned area of tax is exciting - even if sometimes for the wrong reasons. Nicholas Shaxson blows open the global network of tax havens and trains the microscope on those that avail themselves of them. From Jersey to Bermuda, from Equatorial Guinea to the City of London, loopholes exist across the world which allow companies and individuals to avoid paying their dues to the treasuries of the countries in which they make their money. It was published last year, but with everyone from Ken Livingstone to Bono being accused of tax evasion in recent months, it's nothing if not relevant for summer 2012.
Careers & Education
The Start-Up of You by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha
The central concept of this career guide from the founder of LinkedIn is that in today's uncertain and rapidly evolving job market, you should think like an entrepreneur rather than an employee. There's all the stuff you'd expect, particularly from a Silicon Valley social networking guru: go out and meet people, throw some crazy ideas around as one might strike gold. But there are some excellent new insights too, like why your second degree connections are more likely to offer you career opportunities than your best friends and immediate colleagues. And you'll at least be reminded that your future is entirely in your hands, that you always have options even when things look bleak, and that career planning should not stop when you bag that first graduate job.