Airtree's Summer reading list – 2023 edition
Our recommendations span several genres, from a healthy dose of self-improvement to new fiction favourites and some classics.

Are you looking for your new favourite book of the summer? We’ve got you covered with book recommendations from the AirTree team that span several genres, including a healthy dose of self-improvement, new fiction favourites and some classics. Here’s the best of what we read in 2023.

Andrea Saravolac – Finance Manager

Something Bad is Going to Happen by Jessie Stephens

I've never met a book that so perfectly encapsulated the experience of being a millennial woman in a major city and all the anxieties that come along with it (body image, impostor syndrome, relationships and career). This was a deeply relatable book that helped break a reading hiatus for me—unputdownable.

Bree Fedele – Senior Marketing Manager

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver

Last year, I recommended Shuggie Bain, and if you're up for something equally as heart-wrenching or watched Painkiller or Dopesick, it's well worth the read. Demon is a young, scrappy outsider you can't help but root for.

Craig Blair – Co-founder & Partner

Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity by Bill Gifford and Peter Attia

If you care about healthspan and lifespan, this is a must-read. Outlive is the ultimate guide on how to improve exercise, sleep, nutrition and emotional health to live an active, healthy and fulfilling life.

Scaling People: Tactics for Management and Company Building by Claire Hughes Johnson

Claire is the expert on company building and scaling. Her practical guide on creating scalable operating systems and lightweight processes is a must-have for organisation builders, leaders and managers.

Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman

A timely reminder of the finite nature of life for those who’ve tried all the productivity hacks.

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver

It’s no wonder Demon Copperhead won the 2023 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction—this is Barbara Kingsolver at her best. Inspired by David Copperfield, Kingsolver has transposed Dickens’ Victorian epic to the Appalachian mountains, setting it against a modern backdrop of the US opioid crisis.

Dan Lombard – Investment Operations Manager

The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance by W. Timothy Gallwey

Daniel Kahneman may have popularised System 1 and System 2 thinking in Thinking, Fast and Slow, but Gallwey, a tennis coach, said it here first. This is a must-read for anyone who wants BMT (Big Match Temperament) in all facets of life.

Dune by Frank Herbert

I don't typically reach for sci-fi, but Dune surprised me with an immersive world like no other.

Harriet Dwyer – Head of Impact

Tom Lake by Ann Patchett

When you find good fiction, it should always be shared. Especially fiction that has you wanting more at the end of a long workday. Tom Lake is one of those books. It draws you in from page one, instantly accessible and a joy to read, but filled with substance and astutely observed people dynamics.

Jackie Vullinghs – Partner

The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes

Timely for Oppenheimer fans. If you want to learn more about the scientific breakthroughs that led to the atomic bomb through the stories of the individuals who made the discoveries and in a style designed for laypeople, this is for you.

How to be Perfect: The Correct Answer to Every Moral Question by Michael Schur

An introduction to moral philosophy from the creator of The Good Place and co-creator of Parks & Recreation. Michael uses humour to explore the hard questions of how to live a good life while drawing on more than 2,000 years of deep thinking from philosophers around the world.

James Cameron – Partner

The Future of Geography: How Power and Politics in Space Will Change Our World by Tim Marshall

Spy satellites orbiting the moon. Space metals worth more than most countries’ GDP. People on Mars within the next ten years. This isn’t science fiction. It’s astropolitics. What happens in space over the next fifty years will shape human history as much as the mountains, rivers and seas have on Earth. This book does a great job of summarising how the geopolitical deck is currently stacked when it comes to space, where things might be headed, and what it means for us all down on Earth.

Red Flags: Why Xi's China Is in Jeopardy by George Magnus

Economist George Magnus is a respected China-watcher, and despite the provocative title, this is a balanced and nuanced view of where China's economy is currently poised. The book explores four key traps that China must confront and overcome to thrive: the debt trap, middle-income trap, Renminbi trap, and aging population trap. This is an essential read for anyone trying to better understand the economic opportunities and challenges for the Middle Kingdom and how it may impact us.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

This book was a wonderful love letter to video games. It's a fun, light read that made me nostalgic for the games I played as a kid, but also dives deep into the nature of creativity. Really nails the challenges of teams being consistently creative together—think Lennon and McCartney but for Atari games.

Jess Blomfield – Head of People & Culture

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Sure, we've all read it. But how long ago? I picked this up recently, dusted it off, and was instantly transported again into Austin's world of wit. It's a classic for a reason, so why not treat yourself to a nostalgic swoon? It even made a cameo in Barbie!

Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld

Category is: smarter than the average beach read but easy-going enough for a nap between chapters.

John Henderson – Partner

I Hate the Ivy League: Riffs and Rants on Elite Education by Malcolm Gladwell

I'm constantly trying to figure out ways to avoid credentialism as a bias. This book was a good place to start.

Going Infinite: The Rise and Fall of a New Tycoon by Michael Lewis

A case study in hubris, incompetence and the worst of crypto.

Nick Brown – General Counsel

The Bee Sting by Paul Murray

A family saga set in rural Ireland. It's funny, heartwarming, searingly honest—just an absolute delight to read.

A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam by Neil Sheehan

A stark lesson in hubris. Neil undertakes a forensic breakdown of the ongoing horror show that was the US' involvement in the Vietnam War through the prism of a military leader turned pacifist.

Raaj Rayat – Investment Manager

Influence Empire: The Story of Tencent and China’s Tech Ambition by Lulu Yilun Chen

A riveting inside look at the story of Tencent and its reclusive founder, Pony Ma. Chen tells the Tencent story against the backdrop of China’s incredible rise to the tech powerhouse it is today. Tencent’s journey in many ways mirrors the journey of global tech since the 2000s, touching every great corner of the internet from social media (QQ, WeChat), mobile gaming (Riot), ecommerce (, Meituan-Dianping), ridesharing (Didi), EVs (Future Mobility), music (TME), video streaming (Tencent Video), and many others. Tencent's stratospheric rise places it squarely in the pantheon of history’s greatest companies, standing today as the 19th most valuable enterprise in the world.

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Like so many of us, I’ve had a loved one battling cancer this year, which has sent me on a journey to better understand the disease. Mukherjee’s work is a biography of cancer, recounting our relationship with the disease through the ages, from its early appearance in ancient Egyptian medical texts to its rise to public prominence in 20th-century America. It’s at times hopeful and at times sobering. The underlying theme is one that is ubiquitous in medicine: uncelebrated scientists making incremental progress, punctuated by great (and often accidental) breakthroughs. Mukherjee is a gifted scientist and writer, weaving complex biology with a rich historical narrative. He received the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for what has been (probably prematurely) dubbed his opus.

Sachin Shah – Investment Manager

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

One of the craziest true stories I've ever read. An exploration of the beauty of the human condition and a reminder of the richness of life, away from the desk.

Sarah Beder – Marketing Manager

Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano

I’m a big fan of stories that use multiple perspectives to examine the nuance in relationships. Hello Beautiful does this perfectly, tracking a family over several generations to explore what it means to love someone for who they are.

Chain-Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

What happens when mass incarceration and unchecked capitalism are given a dystopian twist? Chain-Gang All-Stars, the highly popular and highly controversial televised sports league where prisoners fight (to the death) for their freedom. Adjei-Brenyah skilfully weaves Hunger Games-esque fight scenes and rich world-building (that doesn’t feel too far away from our own) against a backdrop of heart-wrenching politics and plotlines.

Homecoming by Kate Morton

Jane Harper fans—this one’s for you! Primarily based in the Adelaide Hills, Homecoming switches between perspectives across 60 years as Jess, a journalist, tries to solve an infamous cold case.

Sid Kasbekar – Investment Manager

The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority by Martin Gurri

This is a fascinating overview of how the internet and our mobile phones have created an information sphere. We're more interconnected than ever, and information is so widely accessible. Gurri explores the implications of this and how it may impact society. All told via a fascinating recount of the Arab Springs.

Chip War: The Fight for the World's Most Critical Technology by Chris Miller

This book has quickly cemented itself within tech circles for good reason. It provides a captivating perspective on the history of semiconductors and the geopolitical forces at play. Given the current AI moment, this book couldn't be more relevant.

Victoria Lowe – Portfolio Success Manager

Foundation by Isaac Asimov

I started reaching for classic sci-fi after the Dune-mania of 2021-22. Foundation is a masterpiece—easy prose, engaging characters and an enormous idea. This book is a history, psychology and philosophy lesson all in one, asking an important question: do we have any control over our future, or has it already been determined by our actions? 

Looking for more recommendations? Check out our reading lists from 2022, 2021 and 2020.

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