Recommendations for your summer reading list

Beach reading season is here. Isabelle shares our summer book list.

Summer’s here, meaning it’s officially beach reading season. It’s also time for the BlackRock Investment Institute’s annual summer reading list.

Looking for some suggestions of books that might help you gain insight into current events, become a better investor or let’s be honest, get a bit of mental escape? My BlackRock Investment Institute colleagues and I recently discussed the top titles on our summer reading lists as we compiled our annual recommendations. Here are our picks, in alphabetical order.


The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google by Scott Galloway. I highly recommend this punchy 2017 book that invites the reader to think about the potentially bright, and dark, sides of the four U.S. technology giants.

The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly. This 2016 book is another one of my personal recommendations. The author, a veteran tech writer who helped launch Wired magazine, offers a very helpful conceptual framework to unpack the various strands of technological changes that are effecting our lives and economies.

The Korean War: A History by Bruce Cumings. BlackRock Chief Fixed Income Strategist Jeffrey Rosenberg recommends this book, published in 2010, for anyone seeking a historical perspective on recent developments in the U.S.-North Korea relationship. Cumings, a University of Chicago history professor, describes the origins of the Korean War as well as the history of America’s post–World War II occupation of Korea.

Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Max Tegmark. BlackRock Investment Institute Business Strategist Sabahat Salahuddin recommends this “easy” read from 2017. It addresses Artificial Intelligence (AI) from a number of different perspectives, including the philosophical and scientific, to provide a comprehensive commentary on the topic and the questions it poses.

Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, & the Economic World by Kevin Kelly. Investment strategist Kemin Yang recommends this book, which attempts to describe the future evolution of machines, human society, e-money and many other subjects. It was published in 1995, yet its content is quite up-to-date and intriguing even after 20 years, Kemin says.

Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence by Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans and Avi Goldfarb. This 2018 book – another on the timely topic of AI – tops my summer reading list. The authors seem to offer a compelling framework for mapping out the likely impact of AI on economies in the decades ahead.

icon-pointer.svg Read our holiday reading picks from last December.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. Jack Aldrich, another BlackRock Investment Institute business strategist, notes this 2015 book is a “fascinating” read about human evolutionary and cultural development from the beginning as well as about the future of our species and planet.

Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker, PhD. This 2017 book, another one of my picks, is an eye-opening, evidence-based and highly readable explainer of the harm we inflict on our ourselves, individually and collectively, by treating sleep as a nice-to-have rather than a must-have.


Circe by Madeline Miller. Chief Equity Strategist Kate Moore says this 2018 book tops her summer reading list because she loved Miller’s earlier work Song of Achilles. “Miller’s re-imagining of Greek mythology was both beautiful and compelling,” Kate notes.

Looking for more good reads?

Check out our previous summer reading lists from 2017 and 2015, as well as our holiday reading picks from last December.

Isabelle Mateos y Lago is BlackRock’s Chief Multi-Asset Strategist. She is a regular contributor to The Blog.

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