Unwind and broaden your mind with our 2024 summer reading list

Somehow, some way, it’s already summer—which means we’re halfway through the year.

And what a first half of the year it’s been for investors, who’ve had to constantly adapt to fluctuations in inflation forecasts, growth outlooks and labor-market projections. And then there’s the rate-cut rumor mill, which has been churning for months on end. Needless to say, after grappling with what feels like everything under the sun, it’s high time to relax and spend some actual time under the sun—with a good book or two. Or four.

As part of our annual tradition, we’ve reached out to Russell Investments’ associate base to come up with four recommended books for this year’s summer reading list. Below are our choices, which cover a wide variety of topics, including leadership development, diversity and inclusion and the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution. Have a look, grab a book, and enjoy your summer.

Radical Inclusion: Seven Steps to Help You Create a More Just Workplace, Home, and World
David Moinina Sengeh
Flatiron Books

Too often, despite our best intentions, we come up short in our efforts to make our work and home lives more inclusive. We might promise change, but when push comes to shove, we fail to actually deliver. This is a book about walking the talk and practicing what you preach, all based on the real-life experiences of the author, Harvard and MIT-educated David Moinina Sengeh, who served as the minister of education in his home country of Sierra Leone.

As Sierra Leone’s top education official, Sengeh was able to successfully change a rule that prohibited pregnant women from attending school—despite strong initial opposition from other political leaders, including the country’s president. Drawing on lessons learned from this, he developed seven core principles to guide others in building and maintaining an inclusive environment. Each of these principles is detailed extensively in this deeply personal story of manifesting change, which is packed with a wealth of anecdotes and examples from Sengeh’s political career.

The truth is that each one of us has an opportunity to help make the world a fairer place for more people—in both our professional and personal lives. The steps laid out in Sengeh’s book provide the tools to help make this a reality.

Unreasonable Hospitality: The Remarkable Power of Giving People More Than They Expect
Will Guidara
Optimism Press

This is a leadership book from a restauranteur. Does that sound a bit too counterintuitive to teach any meaningful lessons in the corporate world?

Consider this example: Author Will Guidara recalled one tactic he applied at Eleven Madison Park, the four-star restaurant where he was general manager. “We trained people setting the dining room to place every plate so that if a guest flipped it over to see who had made it, the Limoges stamp would be facing them, right side up.” Did that placement really matter that much? Guidara explained: “By asking the person setting the dining room to place each plate with total concentration and focus, we were asking them to set the tone for how they’d do everything over the course of the service, how they’d greet our guests, walk through the dining room, communicate with their colleagues, pour the champagne to begin a meal and the cup of coffee to end it.”

It doesn’t take much imagination to think how that same approach to client service might work in the asset management industry. But Guidara doesn’t mean this approach is just for clients. He applies it to employees as well. How? With the same unreasonable level of hospitality. If it works anywhere, this book says, it works everywhere.

Brave New Words: How AI Will Revolutionize Education (and Why That’s a Good Thing)
Salman Khan
Viking Books

Add education to the list of sectors likely to be thoroughly altered by artificial intelligence (AI). In his latest book, noted American educator Salman Khan explains how he thinks AI will impact teachers and students alike, noting that one of the greatest benefits he sees is AI’s ability to customize the learning experience on a student-by-student basis. Khan envisions AI serving as a personal tutor of sorts to millions of students around the globe, with the ability to speed up or slow down the learning process based on the needs of each student. He foresees a not-so-distant future where AI could reimagine traditional classroom assignments and homework, but stresses that AI will enhance—not replace—human educators.

Access to high-quality schooling has long been an issue in society, and Khan is optimistic that AI will be able to better level the playing field, in turn closing the achievement gap in education. With AI here to stay, Khan encourages all of us to lean into this powerful new technology and see how we can harness it to achieve better outcomes across the board.

Lead It Like Lasso: A Leadership Book for Life. Your Life.
Marnie Stockman and Nick Coniglio
Year Of The Book Press

Believe … me when I say that this is a wonderfully charming, insightful book on how to become a better leader in all walks of life. Using the colorful characters from the hit Apple TV show “Ted Lasso” as examples, authors Marnie Stockman and Nick Coniglio examine the different attributes that make for effective leadership today, whether in the boardroom, classroom or on the pitch. Do you light a fire in others like Coach Lasso, or light up a room like Keeley Jones? Or are you more of a lead-by-example type like Roy Kent?

Whatever your leadership style, this book has the tools and resources to cover it all, including several hands-on exercises to help identify and improve upon your strengths and weaknesses as a leader. These include determining your operating system, core values, vision and communication strategies. I found these exercises to be both unique and highly practical. Best of all, the book is peppered with plenty of Lasso-like humor, making it a fun, engaging read. Think of it as a written pep talk on leadership from Coach Lasso himself. You won’t be disappointed.