Slide 1
We are often asked to give our clients and friends some suggestions for books to read. Always happy to help, we have put together a short list of our favourite books about risk and reward and some other things in between (you can order directly from Amazon by clicking on the books' covers). If you have any personal comment on these books, then please do let us know at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Michael Mainelli and Ian Harris, The Price of Fish, Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 328 pages, 2011
“Crazy but worth your attention”
Willie Purves, Former Chairman HSBC
Michael Mainelli and Ian Harris, Clean Business Cuisine, Milet Publishing, 160 Pages, 2000
"surprisingly funny considering it is written by a couple of accountants"
'Between the Covers', Accountancy Age, page 36 (14 March 2002).
Michael Mainelli and Bob Giffords, The Road To Long Finance: A Systems View Of The Credit Scrunch, Centre for the Study of Financial Information, 62 Pages, 2009
"a systems view of the credit crunch that puts competition back at the heart of market reform"
Ian Harris and Michael Mainelli, Information Technology for the Not-For-Profit Sector, ICSA Publishing, 224 Pages, 2001
"a practical, hands-on guide written in a non-technical, business-oriented style"
Chris Skinner, Digital Bank, The Financial Services Club, 325 pages, 2013
““This is an up-to-the-minute look at the challenges banks face as the information age goes into overdrive.”
Michael Mainelli, Chairman, Z/Yen Group Limited
William A. Sherden, The Fortune Sellers: The Big Business of Selling and Buying Predictions, John Wiley & Sons, 308 pages, 2000
Sherden wonderfully demonstrates how poorly the $200 billion prognostication industries of 1998 performed against their own standards in areas as diverse as weather forecasting, economics, financial analysis, demographics, technology forecasting, futurology and corporate planning…
Stewart Brand, Whole Earth Discipline, Viking Books, 336 pages, 2009
Ecologist Stewart Brand controversially asserts, “[C]ities are green. Nuclear power is green. Genetic engineering is green. Geo-engineering is probably necessary”. Many environmentalists decry counting on future technological improvement, ‘techno-fixes’. For them, controlling population and reducing consumption take precedence over waiting for technology to cure things. For some environmentalists it is an article of faith or ethics that behaviour must change so that people take responsibility for their actions as well as rely on improved technology. Brand accepts the ethical issues, but challenges whether our principles keep us from solving real problems.
John Dee, Sustainable Growth, Sensis, 244 pages, 2010
‘Sustainable Growth' provides small and medium sized businesses with practical information and tips on how to improve their bottom line while reducing their impact on the environment.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets, Penguin Books, 368 pages, 2007 “a thoughtful musing on chance, markets, Black Swans and why you can’t really spot great traders”
Tim Harford, The Undercover Economist, Little Brown, 288 pages 2006
“improves understanding of three key problem areas in commerce – information asymmetry, externalities and lack of competition”
Nick Robins, The Corporation That Changed the World: How the East India Company Shaped the Modern Multinational, Pluto Press, 240 pages, 2006
“plus ça change – we can learn a lot about the development of modern corporations by looking to the past”
Gill Ringland, Scenario Planning, John Wiley and Sons Ltd, 490 pages (2nd edition), 2006
"our trusty guide to using scenarios for strategic planning" (including a section on ZYen's scenarios for voluntary-sector organisations)"
Barry Schwartz, The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less, Harper Collins, 304 pages, 2005 “an exploration of how people make decisions and how those decisions suffer or gain through surfeit”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Vintage, 512 pages, 2014 “Why did homo sapiens prevail over other homos? Because we can believe in things that don’t exist. A wonderful book of stories about religion, money, science and industry that closes in on an even bigger question, when will we find happiness.”
James Surowiecki, The Wisdom of Crowds, Abacus, 320 pages, 2005 “one of our favourite topics, predictive markets”
David Hussey and Robert Perrin, How to Manage a Voluntary Organization: The Essential Guide for the Not-for-profit Sector, Kogan Page Ltd, 256 pages, 2003
"comprehensive overview of an enormous sector - it is an excellent gift for CEOs of medium-sized charities or their trustees"
acqueline Chapman, Business Recovery Planning in a Week, Hodder & Stoughton, 96 pages, 2002
"short, pithy advice that just might save your firm - from someone who worked with ours"
Fons Trompenaars and Charles Hampden Turner, Riding the Waves of Culture, Nicholas Brealey Publishing Ltd, 275 pages, 2002
"this book, along with Geert Hofstede's work, forms one of the few coherent books not just about culture, but what you can do about cultural differences"
Reid Hastie and Robyn Dawes, Rational Choice in an Uncertain World, SAGE Publications Ltd, 448 pages, 2001
"a good explanation of using probability to make choices"
Peter L. Bernstein, Against the Gods, The Remarkable Story of Risk, John Wiley and Sons, 394 pages (new edition), 1998
"not just for business, but a great book for the beach"
Shiv Mathur and Alfred Kenyon, Creating Value, Butterworth-Heinemann Ltd, 464 pages, 1998 "one of the better business strategy books, well-grounded in competitive theory and not overly-wordy"
Terence Kealey, The Economic Laws of Scientific Research, Palgrave Macmillan 396 pages, 1997
"everything and the kitchen sink thrown into a fun book which demolishes the notion that government-driven R&D is superior to the free market"
Max Bazerman, Judgement in Managerial Decision Making, John Wiley and Sons, 208 pages (4th edition), 1997
"a great overview of the field of decision making, including such fun items as Prospect Theory"
Gareth Morgan, Images of Organization, SAGE Publications (USA), 494 pages (international edition), 1997 one of the best books to lay out the multitude of approaches to improving organisations - it's all about people, it's all about power, it's all about..."
C.B. Chapman and Stephen Ward, Project Risk Management, John Wiley and Sons, 344 pages, 1996
a book after our own heart - solid management techniques with a risk twist"
John Adams, Risk, UCL Press,192 pages, 1995
"a wonderful roller-coaster of a book which will provide a wealth of dinner party risk topics"
Richard H. Thaler, The Winner's Curse, Princeton University Press, 240 pages (reprint), 1994
"a fun book which makes economics relevant to the day-to-day world"
Werner Ulrich, Critical Heuristics of Social Planning, John Wiley and Sons, 504 pages (new edition), 1994
"a thought-provoking introduction to problem-solving in complex social contexts"
Ulrich Beck, Mark Ritter (Translator), Risk Society, SAGE Publications Ltd, 304 pages, 1992
"a social philosophy book which will get you thinking about risk as the key 21st century driver of social dynamics"
Bernard Manson, The Practitioner's Guide to Interest Rate Risk Management, Kluwer Academic Publishers Limited, 488 pages, 1992
"all the detail you need to get the job done from the pen of a friend"
Stewart Brand, The Clock Of The Long Now: Time And Responsibility, Phoenix, 208 pages, 2000
"Stewart Brand has written a wonderful book on how developing a long-term perspective changes the decisions you make. There are some fantastic concepts in here ranging from techno-rapture to karmic vertigo to Danny Hillis’ Golden Rule of Time: “Do for the future what you’re grateful the past did for you” - all of which inform our ideas of time and responsibility. A short and inspiring read. And remember, “the long view looks through death”
Elinor Ostrom, Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action, Cambridge University Press, 289 pages, 1991
"wonderfully illustrates the diversity of solutions to natural resource problems and the 'third way' voluntary organisations can provide"
David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years, Melville House; 534 pages, 2011
"If you're thinking about studying economics, you should read this book first. If you've already studied economics, you should read this book, but be prepared to be disappointed in the critical faculties of your previous teachers. If you're studying economics, don't read this book - it contradicts too much of what you need to amass to pass your exams - yet"
Philip Sadler, Sustainable Growth in a Post-Scarcity World: Consumption, Demand, and the Poverty Penalty, Gower Publishing Limited, 249 pages, 2010
"In this immense survey, Philip questions our ability to handle both scarcity and abundance. He provides some good signposts for business people seeking to respond to the challenges of sustainability"
Michael Powers, Acts of God and Man: Ruminations on Risk and Insurance, Columbia Business School Publishing, 304 pages, 2011
“What distinguishes this book is the author's ability to hold together some big topics - the scientific method, life & death, and the fundamental characteristics of insurance - with a repeated connection to the down to earth. He also has some excellent end of chapter dialogues with Death and Insurance Forms”
Dionysios S. Demetis, Technology and Anti-Money Laundering: A Systems Theory and Risk-Based Approach , Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, 188 pages, 2010 "What distinguishes this book is that Dr Demetis doesn't come from the moralistic end of AML or the legal end of AML, both of which tend towards stridency. What he has done is look at systems in the round. Despite being a technologist, he successfully moves up a level for a look at the whole system, not just the technical aspects. Further, it is apparent he has done real and significant analysis too, not just a bit of programming for a bank. Dr Demetis' conclusions are not comfortable for a critic of the global AML movement. He successfully explores the limits of what we might want to achieve against what we could ever possibly achieve. For anyone in the AML space, this book is a deep and sobering read".
James Buchan,  Frozen Desire: An Inquiry Into The Meaning Of Money, Picador, 320 pages, 1997
Magical realism about money, yet also possibly the most philosophical book ever written about money. If Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Jorge Luis Borges wrote together in English about money, they might just have written this. In the author’s own words, “a sort of by-way of the study of money, like an alley one enters to escape the blinding, crowded street”.