Recommended Reading

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 comments on these books, then please do let us know at

The Price Of Fish

by Michael Mainelli & Ian Harris

Nicholas Brealey Publishing
Published 2011
ISBN 978-1-85788622-1
328 pages

"Crazy but worth your attention.”

– Willie Purves, Former Chairman HSBC

Clean Business Cuisine

by Michael Mainelli & Ian Harris

Millet Publishing
Published 2000
ISBN 184-0-59227-3
160 pages

"Surprisingly funny considering it is written by a couple of accountants."

'Between the Covers'. Accountancy Age, page 36 (14 March 2002).

The Road To Long Finance: A Systems View Of The Credit Scrunch

by Michael Mainelli & Bob Giffords

Centre for the Study of Financial Information
Published 2009
ISBN 978-0-95619044-4
62 Pages

"A systems view of the credit crunch that puts competition back at the heart of market reform."


Information Technology For The Not-For-Profit Sector

by Ian Harris & Michael Mainelli

ICSA Publishing
Published 2001
ISBN 978-1-86072130-4
224 Pages

"A practical, hands-on guide written in a non-technical, business-oriented style."

Gresham's Law: The Life and World of Queen Elizabeth I's Banker

by Dr John Guy

Profile Books
Published 2007
ISBN 978-1788162364
320 pages

"A book we've had a hand in since conception and commissioning in 2015, published in 2019, a joint venture of the Mercers' Company, the City of London Corporation, and Gresham College. A "Tudor Wolf Of Wall Street", which is a bit amusing as one of his neighbours was Thomas Cromwell of "Wolf Hall" fame. We love the result which has fabulous reviews, and have held a Financial Services Club event on same as well as sponsoring an exhibition at Guildhall Library. Read more, much more as Mainelli gets into the Law itself."

Doing Digital: Lessons from Leaders

by Chris Skinner

Marshall Cavendish International (Asia)
Published 2020
ISBN 978-981484143-6
352 pages

"Chris Skinner shows how fintech is helping to make the banking industry more transparent, and promote financial inclusion."

The Fortune Sellers: The Big Business Of Selling & Buying Predictions

by William A. Sherden

John Wiley & Sons
Published 2000
ISBN 978-0-47135844-2
308 pages

“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…”

Digital Bank

by Chris Skinner

The Financial Services Club
Published 2013
ISBN 978-1-49229834-2
325 pages

“This is an up-to-the-minute look at the challenges banks face as the information age goes into overdrive.”

– Michael Mainelli, Chairman of Z/Yen Group Limited

Sustainable Growth

by Jon Dee

Published 2010
ISBN 978-0-98072281-9
244 pages

“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.”

Fooled By Randomness: The Hidden Role Of Chance In Life & In The Markets

by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Penguin Books
Published 2007
ISBN 978-0-14103148-4
368 pages

“A thoughtful musing on chance, markets, Black Swans and why you can’t really spot great traders.”

The Undercover Economist

by Tim Harford

Little Brown
Published 2006
ISBN 978-0-31673116-4
288 pages

“Improves understanding of three key problem areas in commerce – information asymmetry, externalities and lack of competition.”

Whole Earth Discipline

by Stewart Brand

Viking Books
Published 2009
ISBN 978-0-67002121-5
336 pages

“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.”

The Corporation That Changed The World: How The East India Company Shaped The Modern Multinational

by Nick Robins

Pluto Press
Published 2006
ISBN 978-8-12503022-5
240 pages

“Plus ça change – we can learn a lot about the development of modern corporations by looking to the past.”

The Paradox Of Choice: Why More Is Less

by Barry Schwartz

Harper Collins
Published 2005
ISBN 978-0-06000569-6
304 pages

“An exploration of how people make decisions and how those decisions suffer or gain through surfeit.”

Sapiens: A Brief History Of Humankind

by Yuval Noah Harari:

Published 2014
ISBN 978-1-84655823-8
512 pages

“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.”

Scenario Planning

by Gill Ringland

John Wiley and Sons Ltd (2nd Ed.)
Published 2006
ISBN 978-0-47001881-1
490 pages

"Our trusty guide to using scenarios for strategic planning" (including a section on Z/Yen's scenarios for voluntary-sector organisations)."

The Wisdom Of Crowds

by James Surowiecki:

Abacus (New Ed.)
Published 2005
ISBN 978-0-34911605-1
320 pages

“One of our favourite topics; predictive markets.”

How To Manage A Voluntary Organization: The Essential Guide For The Not-For-Profit Sector

by David Hussey & Robert Perrin

Kogan Page Ltd
Published 2003
ISBN 978-0-74943780-0
256 pages

"Comprehensive overview of an enormous sector - it is an excellent gift for CEOs of medium-sized charities or their trustees."

Business Recovery Planning In A Week

by Jacqueline Chapman

Hodder & Stoughton
Published 2002
ISBN 978-0-34080493-3
96 pages

"Short, pithy advice that just might save your firm - from someone who worked with ours."

Rational Choice In An Uncertain World

by Reid Hastie and Robyn Dawes

SAGE Publications Ltd
Published 2001
ISBN 978-0-76192275-9
448 pages

"A good explanation of using probability to make choices."

Riding The Waves Of Culture

by Fons Trompenaars & Charles Hampden Turner

Nicholas Brealey Publishing Ltd
Published 2002
ISBN 978-1-85788176-9
275 pages

"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."

Against The Gods, The Remarkable Story Of Risk

by Peter L. Bernstein:

John Wiley and Sons (New Ed.)
Published 1998
ISBN 978-0-47129563-1
394 pages

"Not just for business, but a great book for the beach."

Creating Value

by Shiv Mathur and Alfred Kenyon

Butterworth-Heinemann Ltd
Published 1998
ISBN 978-0-75063954-5
464 pages

"One of the better business strategy books, well-grounded in competitive theory and not overly-wordy."

The Economic Laws of Scientific Research

by Terence Kealey

Palgrave Macmillan
Published 1997
ISBN 978-0-31217306-7
396 pages

"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."

Judgement In Managerial Decision Making

by Max Bazerman

John Wiley and Sons (4th Ed.)
Published 1997
ISBN 978-0-47139887-5
208 pages

"A great overview of the field of decision making, including such fun items as Prospect Theory."

Images Of Organization

by Gareth Morgan

SAGE Publications USA (Int'l Ed.)
Published 1997
ISBN 9780761906346
496 pages

"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..."

Project Risk Management

by C.B. Chapman & Stephen Ward

John Wiley & Sons
Published 1996
ISBN 978-0-47195804-8
344 pages

"A book after our own heart - solid management techniques with a risk twist."


by John Adams

UCL Press
Published 1995
ISBN 978-1-85728068-5
192 pages

"A wonderful roller-coaster of a book which will provide a wealth of dinner party risk topics."

The Winner's Curse

by Richard H. Thaler

Princeton University Press (Reprint)
Published 1994
ISBN 978-0-69101934-5
240 pages

"A fun book which makes economics relevant to the day-to-day world."

Critical Heuristics Of Social Planning: A New Approach To Social Planning

by Werner Ulrich

John Wiley and Sons
Published 1994
ISBN 978-0471953456
504 pages

"A thought-provoking introduction to problem-solving in complex social contexts."

The Clock Of The Long Now: Time & Responsibility

by Stewart Brand

Published 2000
ISBN 978-0-75381012-5
208 pages

"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.”

Risk Society

by Ulrich Beck (Translated by Mark Ritter)

SAGE Publications Ltd
Published 1992
ISBN 978-0-80398346-5
304 pages

"A social philosophy book which will get you thinking about risk as the key 21st century driver of social dynamics."

Debt: The First 5,000 Years

by David Graeber

Melville House
Published 2011
ISBN 978-1-93363386-2
534 pages

"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."

The Practitioner's Guide To Interest Rate Risk Management

by Bernard Manson

Kluwer Academic Publishers Ltd.
Published 1992
ISBN 978-1-85333765-9
488 pages

"All the detail you need to get the job done from the pen of a friend."

Governing The Commons: The Evolution Of Institutions For Collective Action

by Elinor Ostrom

Cambridge University Press
Published 1991
ISBN 978-0-52140599-7
289 pages

"Wonderfully illustrates the diversity of solutions to natural resource problems and the 'third way' voluntary organisations can provide."

She is seriously missed.

Sustainable Growth In A Post-Scarcity World: Consumption, Demand, & The Poverty Penalty

by Philip Sadler

Gower Publishing Ltd.
Published 2010
ISBN 978-0566091582
249 pages

"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."

Acts Of God And Man: Ruminations On Risk & Insurance

by Michael Powers

Columbia Business School Publishing
Published 2011
ISBN 978-0-23115366-9
304 pages

“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.”

Marketing Warfare

by Al Ries & Jack Trout

"Conventional marketing theory focuses on customers. Ries & Trout focus on competitors and four basic strategies, defensive, offensive, flanking, or guerilla. For example, a defensive strategy suits market leaders defending a dominant position. Given the dominance of this short book, "if you have to read only one marketing book...", you might think these authors have only defensive strategies left for their next one."


ISBN: 978-0-07052726-3

Published 1986

224 pages

Technology & Anti-Money Laundering: A Systems Theory And Risk-Based Approach

by Dionysios S. Demetis

Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd.
Published 2010
ISBN 978-1-84844556-7
188 pages

"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."

Frozen Desire: An Inquiry Into The Meaning Of Money

by James Buchan

ISBN 978-0-33036931-2
Published 1997
320 pages

"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'.”

Money for Nothing: The Scientists, Fraudsters, and Corrupt Politicians Who Reinvented Money, Panicked a Nation, and Made the World Rich

by Thomas Levenson

Penguin Random House

ISBN: 978-0-81299846-7

Published 2020

480 pages

"A good historical rip through the early 18th century, the South Sea Bubble, Walpole, Gresham College, Newton, and the Royal Society, with a jaunt to France to visit John Law. The author is a professor of science writing, who writes with a firm grasp on the basics of money, unusual in a history book. The book is educational on the history of the period, viewing the New Learning and the Scientific Method through the lens of 'money'."
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