A Private Equity Summer Reading List

This year’s recommendations reflect a range of genres and authors that is as varied as the industry itself.
This year’s recommendations reflect a range of genres and authors that is as varied as the industry itself.


  • Private-equity professionals’ summer reading picks span genres from modern fiction to histories and social sciences

Private-equity professionals generally maintain busy schedules between meeting with prospective business partners, pitching new funds or working with portfolio company executives. But many industry professionals still make time to catch up on their reading. Over more than a decade, industry professionals have shared their favorite summer reading picks and this year’s recommendations reflect a range of genres and authors that is as varied as the industry itself. Contributions have been edited for clarity.

Heather Mitchell, partner, chief risk officer and head of EMEA, Carlyle Group

“In the Light of What We Know" by Zia Haider Rahman

I read it when it first came out, and I’m rereading it this summer as it is, first and foremost, a novel of ideas. Wide ranging in its reach, it’s threaded with insight about politics, history, religion and the human condition. Set against the backdrop of the 2008 financial crisis (which admittedly doesn’t initially sound like a compelling summer read), at its core this is a book of the heart, addressing the possibilities and limits of friendship, love and ultimately one’s perception of one’s place in the world. I’m a big believer in broadening your perspective and not just reading books that reinforce your own belief systems. It’s always important to see a different view, so as a generic recommendation, it might be worth picking up a novel someone is trying to marginalize.

Jim Quagliaroli, co-founder and managing partner, Silversmith Capital Partners

“The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger

I’ve read it in my teens, twenties, and thirties. And I have read it a half dozen times now in my forties. Each time I read it, I see something new.

“Portrait of an Unknown Woman" by Daniel Silva

There are dozens of spy novelists, but Silva’s ability is far beyond great storytelling that keeps you guessing. His protagonists are at once ambitious, complex and flawed—they suck you in as people, not just actors or characters in some thriller. It’s fun, engaging fiction which I really enjoy when I turn off my phone.

Robert F. Smith, founder, chairman and chief executive, Vista Equity Partners

“Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents" by Isabel Wilkerson

A vividly constructed, well-researched reflection on American history and the divisive social constructs that continue to shape our society and economy. A must-read for anyone seeking to understand people, perceptions and systems, and how their interplay can be either obstacles or catalysts for change.

Pam Hendrickson, vice chairman, Riverside Co.

“The Daughters of Yalta: The Churchills, Roosevelts, and Harrimans: A Story of Love and War" by Catherine Grace Katz

Much has been written about Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Averell Harriman, so I was very intrigued by a book featuring their daughters, about whom one hadn’t heard much. This book is extremely well written and provides some wonderful insider observations about a pivotal time in U.S. history as well as the importance of the relationships between fathers and daughters. One does wonder, however, if at a different time in history three intelligent and enterprising young women left to their own devices could have done much more than supporting their famous fathers.

Daryn Dodson, managing partner, Illumen Capital

“Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do" by Jennifer L. Eberhardt

An essential read for financial leaders, “Biased" explores unconscious prejudices that impact decision-making and offers valuable insights into how biases can affect investment strategies. Eberhardt discusses the ways race permeates structural systems across education, criminal justice and workplaces, while proposing evidence- and neuroscience-based solutions for leaders to foster a more inclusive and equitable investment environment.

“7 Rules of Power: Surprising—but True—Advice on How to Get Things Done and Advance Your Career" by Jeffrey Pfeffer

Widely read by financial and political leaders, “7 Rules of Power" should also be an essential guide for impact executives aiming to create positive change in society. Pfeffer equips leaders with the tools to strategically wield power and execute their goals, making this book indispensable for those dedicated to creating positive change.

Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, senior partner, Antin Infrastructure Partners

“A World Safe for Democracy: Liberal Internationalism and the Crises of Global Order" by G. John Ikenberry

Democracy has rolled back in most of the world due to various factors ranging from social control and manipulation by nondemocratic powers using digital technologies to fierce nationalism and religious fanaticism. As the world order based on a gradually built international rule of law relying on shared values seems to crumble under the joint assault of these forces, John Ikenberry’s book is a welcome, well written, in-depth reflection on why and how this liberal international order has emerged. It enables us to think about what could be done to maintain it in a new context.

“The Technology Trap: Capital, Labor, and Power in the Age of Automation" by Carl Benedikt Frey

The very latest developments of artificial intelligence have not outdated this widely praised book, which is a powerful historical synthesis on the question of the relationship between man and machine.

Jordan Welu, partner, Battery Ventures

“Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back): A Memoir of Recording and Discording with Wilco, Etc." by Jeff Tweedy

Wilco have been making music for nearly three decades. I first saw them in a crowded pub in Dublin in 1997 for their European tour in support of their second album. “Let’s Go" is Wilco frontman and founder Jeff Tweedy’s first book and autobiography. It’s a chronicle of how he writes music and found his voice as a reluctant singer, but more importantly how his family helped him find joy in songwriting and survive addiction. The book is also a window into how bands are formed, held together and sometimes inevitably break apart, offering lessons for all of us working to build and grow teams and partnerships.

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