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On Our Bedside Table: The Business of Families

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On Our Bedside Table: The Business of Families

Book-Recommendations-July-2022

Our Book Recommendations July 2022 are here

1. L.A. Weather by Maria Amparo Escandón

Reviewed by Zissy 

Published by Pan Macmillan

In a nutshell

L.A. Weather follows the Alvarado family as they each battle their own secrets and troubles amidst a drought inflicting L.A. There is Oscar, the patriarch of the family who is obsessed with the weather for its disastrous implications on a secret he has been guarding for over 7 years. His wife, Keila, the matriarch feels disconnected from Oscar and wants to end their marriage. Then there are the three daughters with lives as messy, if not messier than their parents. Claudia – a TV chef, Olivia – an architect with two young twin girls, and Patricia – a social media wizard with a teenage son. 

Book club Notes 

This book read like a Mexican American soap opera. It’s easy to read and would happily go onto a list of recommended beach reads. Despite the heavier topics like climate change, fidelity, infertility, gender identity and illness, I found the storyline quite shallow. Many of the topics seemed added in as an afterthought or plopped in to place this book in the decade it’s written. I don’t mind reading books that deal with current topics and trends, but when they don’t seem to be adding value to the story or seem to be there just because they’re trending, it takes away from the enjoyment of the story. 

Words that Stuck With Me

Despite not loving this book, there was a line I did quite like:

People sitting at a table don’t make a family. Monologues don’t make a conversation.

2. Genius by Bruce Whitfield

Reviewed by Feige

Published by Pan Macmillan

In a nutshell 

Following Upside Down, Genius tells the story of extraordinary people and businesses whose ideas/products solves problems and have added value across the globe. 

In Bruce Whitfield’s own words, “This book is about some of those renegades; the problem solvers who have identified systems and processes that they have refined domestically before the challenging exercise of going global.” 

Book club Notes 

The best way I could describe this book is if you took the light versions of Factfulness by Hans Rosling and How I built this by Guy Raz, meshed them together and made it local.

As with Upside of Down, Genius is well written, researched and an enjoyable read. The difference is that Genius is much more economics focused. Whereas Upside of Down is a book that I believe has a wider appeal to the everyday South African, Genius is more business niche.

Words That stuck with Me

At no point in human history has so much worthless information been created by so many for mass consumption. The one attribute that the most successful entrepreneurs I have had the privilege of meeting over nearly two-and-a-half decades share is the ability not to ignore bad news and danger but to scythe through the irrelevant and the distractions.

3. My Journey to the Top of the World by Saray Khumalo

Reviewed by Zissy

Published by Penguin Books

In a nutshell 

Saray Khumalo was born in a small village in Zambia and raised by her grandparents and single mother. Through hard work and determination, she not only worked her way up the corporate ladder, she became the first Black African woman to summit Mount Everest. My Journey to the Top of the World is her story of how she got into mountaineering, overcame three failed attempts at Everest to summit on the fourth and how she summited four of the seven highest mountains in the world. 

Book club Notes 

Reading this book made me feel like I was reading Saray’s blog or an email newsletter she sends out to friends and family. If you have aspirations to summit the big seven (or start hiking) this book will inspire you and ignite the fire to get started. She’s proof that if you want something bad enough you’ll make it happen and nothing, not illness or finances will stand in your way. 

4. The People on Platform 5 by Clare Pooley

Reviewed by Feige

Published by Penguin Books

In a nutshell 

Imagine taking the same train to work at the same time every single day and seeing the same people but never exchanging a word.

That’s the life Iona lives, until one day a man on her train chokes on a grape and a fellow passenger steps up to save his life. It sets into motion a chain of events that changes the dynamic of an eclectic group of people, challenging the perceptions each had of the others.

Book club Notes 

This is a feel good, sweet story that is a great beach or holiday read for when you need something light and a touch fluffy.

Although the storyline and characters are peppered with depth and issues worth exploring, there isn’t anything staggeringly profound about this book that would land it in a must-read list. 

That being said, there is a place for books like this. Not everything you read has to be profound, or brilliant or life altering – sometimes you just want to pick up a book that is easy and light to get lost into.

Words That stuck with Me

Most endings turned out to be beginnings is disguise.

5. Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter by Lizzie Pook

Reviewed by Feige

Published by Pan Macmillan

In a nutshell 

In 1886 the Brightwell family sails from England to Western Australia in hopes of making their fortune in the Pearling business. Ten years later, the family patriarch Charles (now the bay’s most prolific pearler) goes missing at sea. When the corrupt townsfolk suggest it was mutiny and murder and sweep it under the rug, Eliza refuses to believe her father is dead and sets a mission to uncover the truth.

Available here

Book club Notes 

This is an easy reading historic novel filled with adventure and suspense.

It is exceptionally well written, filled with robust characters and set on a vivid landscape that comes more alive with each page. Eliza is a delightful heroine who marches through life with her own unique footprint. I loved how no nonsense and sure of herself she was throughout the book.

I love historic novels because they are never just a feel good, sweet story. There is always an added layer of depth and so much research weaved into the fabric, that even when creative liberties are taken (as Lizzie Pook explains at the end), you walk away feeling like you’ve learned about a passage of time you knew nothing about.

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