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10 books to change your life 

15 January 2021

Lockdown takes so many things away from us. Our freedom, our daily habits, our friends, our family and in some cases, our work. But in the place of these dear and essential things, we have found small opportunities. With life slowing down, many of us have found a new opportunity, and indeed joy, in reading a good book. 

With this in mind, we have asked our Change Makers to tell us about the books that have changed their lives. If you need some inspiration about what to read next, here are 12 of the books that have inspired some of our guests. 

Made in America, Peter Ueberroth

Matt Scheckner, Global CEO, Advertising Week

Early on in my career, I read Peter Ueberroth’s Made in America, when that was a much less complex title and it was just a quintessential story about entrepreneurship and giving back. I have great admiration for Peter and later in my career got to meet him and he was terrific. The job he and the late Harry Usher did running the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games really made the modern-day sports business in so many ways.”

My Early  Life, Winston Churchill

Sir Max Hastings, writer and historian

“Winston Churchill’s My Early Life, convinced me that having adventures, some of them on battlefields, was the way I wanted to fulfill myself. I didn’t grow out of that until I was 36, after the Falklands War.”

A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf

Sharmadean Reid, MBE, founder, Beautystack

“Aside from the delicious writing, it succinctly voiced everything I had felt about being a woman. I was just sad that it was about 100 years old and still relevant.”

Homer’s Odyssey, reworked by Nikos Kazantzakis

Yanis Varoufakis, economist, politician, author 

“I don’t know anyone who’s not fascinated by the Odyssey.” 

21 Lessons for the 21st Century, Yuval Noah Harari

Paul Lindley OBE, chair, Robert F Kennedy Human Rights UK

“This book raises all those challenges we are failing to address.”

Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson

Dr Jeremy Silver, CEO, Digital Catapult 

 “Published in 1992 – this book foresaw the internet and the metaverse, provided the name for the Raft which was the first website I ever built for the label where I worked, Virgin Records in 1994 and which resulted eventually in me moving to LA in 1998 at the height of the first dot com boom.”

Royal Road to Card Magic, Jean Hugard

Stephen Welton, founder and CEO, BGF

“This book sparked a lifelong passion for magic which has served me well in many different parts of my life, both personal and professional.”

Grant Takes Command, Bruce Catton 

General David Petraeus, former commander of coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and Director of the CIA

“The inspiration for me during the Surge – and since – was Ulysses S. Grant, as portrayed in Bruce Catton’s “Grant Takes Command,” which I was reading a few pages a night in the early tough months of the Surge.”

100 Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Tamara Lohan, MBE, co-founder, Mr & Mrs Smith

“I read this in my late teens and knew I had to explore South America. It led me to spend a year in Chile, Peru, Bolivia and Colombia, to study South American literature at university and I still feel a draw to that part of the world.”

The Elephant’s Child, Rudyard Kipling

Sir Michael Morpurgo OBE, author

“My mother used to read this to me. She was an actress and read so beautifully. She would come to my brother and me at night and for 20 minutes she read to us, somehow becoming the animals in the story. It’s one of those wonderful stories, very funny and full of musical language. I used to love it, it made me giggle. It was the first story I ever loved and began my life with a love of stories.”


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