Bill Gates gives out book recommendations. So does Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. And now, executives at a firm many Americans still associate with Wall Street quants and too-big-to-fail largesse are offering up their own suggestions for a more literary past time: Goldman Sachs just published a back-to-school reading list of favorites from managing directors and partners around the globe.
This year's books, the second annual list from the firm that's now jumping into consumer banking, includes 14 titles that were recommended by a handful of the firm's executives. The eclectic list -- some recently published, others not -- is mostly void of self-help leadership guides or complex financial tomes, instead including everything from a history of soccer coaching styles ("Inverting the Pyramid," by Jonathan Wilson) to a 1992 biography of Winston Churchill and Ta-Nehisi Coates' exploration of race in America, "Between the World and Me."
Other picks are more traditional business reading -- Blake Masters and Peter Thiel's "Zero to One" makes a repeat appearance from the first year, a book called "The Healthy Workplace" looks at how offices can improve worker well-being, and Nate Silver's book on predictions ("The Signal and the Noise") was chosen by a managing director in the investment management division. Yet there are also novels ("Homegoing," "A Little Life," "Half of a Yellow Sun,"), as well as weighty works of nonfiction, such as Henry Kissinger's "World Order" and Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steel: the Fates of Human Societies."
Goldman Sachs isn't the only major investment bank to offer up a reading list. For the past 17 years, JPMorgan has published a reading list, with the 2016 list of 10 books chosen from more than 450 nonfiction selections nominated by the bank's offices. The bank appears to see it largely as a service for its clients: "The summer reading list is our effort to extend the dialogue beyond the bread and butter of our business to help clients discover new ideas, new people and new thinking," it said in a news release about this year's list.
In an email, a spokeswoman for the Goldman Sachs said its list, which was posted on the firm's career blog, is intended to appeal to people at all levels of their careers, but that "recruits are an important part of that demographic." She said the firm's social media postings "have the larger goal of humanizing the firm and our leaders" as well as giving a sense of the people who work there.
For one, that meant wearing something few might imagine a Goldman Sachs executive would ever wear in a photo on the firm's site. The bank's global head of corporate services, Dino Fusco, shows up on the list in a photo wearing a "puffy shirt," a reference to his book pick, "Seinfeldia," a behind-the-scenes look at the legendary sitcom.