choose your inspiration

Whatever your passion, you'll find inspiration in these carefully selected titles.
The J.P. Morgan Reading List, now in its 15th year, consistently offers intriguing
selections of the next must-reads—from insights on creativity to advice on
exceptional public speaking to secrets of the human brain. We wish you happy reading.


choose your inspiration


Things a Little Bird Told Me:
Confessions of the Creative Mind

By Biz Stone
Who better than Biz Stone to offer advice and inspiration to up-and-coming entrepreneurs and next-generation leaders ready to take the reins of the family business? The co-founder and co-inventor of Twitter provides invaluable insights. Combining examples from his own life, principles he's learned along the way, and true stories from his experiences at Google and Twitter, Stone presents a well-paced, informative personal narrative on the creative process.

In Biz's world:

  • Opportunity can be manufactured
  • Great work comes from abandoning a linear way of thinking
  • Creativity never runs out
  • Asking questions is free
  • Empathy is core to personal and global success

Other titles you may like from our past Reading Lists

The Startup Game
William Draper III
2011 List
Leaving Microsoft to Change the World
John Wood
2007 List

The Second Machine Age:
Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of
Brilliant Technologies

By Erik Brynjolfsson, Andrew McAfee
As societies progress, those who can best adapt to change have the highest chance of success. MIT's Brynjolfsson and McAfee detail the vast technological changes that are already underway, and provide a look at the potential changes to come. They also unveil a plan of action to understand, cope with and embrace the transformative nature of society today. For the forward-thinking business executive, this is a book that shouldn't be missed.

The Second Machine Age offers important insights into how digital technologies are transforming our economy, a process that has only just begun.” Reid Hoffman, Co-Founder and Chairman of LinkedIn

Other titles you may like from our past Reading Lists

Geeks and Geezers
Warren Bennis and
Robert Thomas
2003 List
A Short History of
Nearly Everything:
Special Illustrated

Bill Bryson
2006 List

The Metropolitan Revolution:
How Cities and Metros Are Fixing Our
Broken Politics and Fragile Economy

By Bruce Katz, Jennifer Bradley
Philanthropists, endowments and foundations are often presented with lists of challenges in American cities—political barriers to growth, lack of economic diversity, immigration. But Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley carry the banner for cities that are getting it right. The Metropolitan Revolution highlights success stories from some of America's most-populous areas and shows that big improvements can happen quickly when people are willing to make small changes.

“In the developing world, one million people move to cities and metros every five days. At this pace, by 2050 three-quarters of the global population will call urban areas home.”

Other titles you may like from our past Reading Lists

High Line:
The Inside Story of
New York City's
Park in the Sky

Joshua David and
Robert Hammond
2012 List
Great Fortune:
The Epic of
Rockefeller Center

Daniel Okrent
2004 List

Talk Like TED:
The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets
of the World's Top Minds

By Carmine Gallo
Go inside the minds of TED's online presenters. A nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, TED—Technology, Entertainment and Design—features short, powerful talks on myriad subjects. Public-speaking coach Carmine Gallo pinpoints the top tips of the celebrated community's most popular presenters. With advice to hone the skills of even well-seasoned executives, Talk Like TED is a fascinating and infinitely helpful look at one of the world's most common fears.

“You've got to follow your passion. You've got to figure out what it is you love—who you really are. And have the courage to do that. I believe that the only courage anybody ever needs is the courage to follow your own dreams.”
Oprah Winfrey

Other titles you may like from our past Reading Lists

The Wisdom
of Crowds

James Surowiecki
2005 List
The Corner Office
Adam Bryant
2011 List

Thrive: The Third Metric
to Redefining Success and Creating a Life
of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder

By Arianna Huffington
Executives around the globe know that money and power can often only make someone so happy. It's finding the “third metric” that truly provides the keys to passion, joy and fulfillment in one's life. In Thrive, Arianna Huffington—one of the most influential women in the world—takes the reader on his or her own journey of self-realization. Combining a deep personal narrative with scientific data, Huffington formulates a new model for total well-being.

Arianna talks
about her book

Other titles you may like from our past Reading Lists

Lean In
Sheryl Sandberg
2013 List
James Gleick
2000 List

Art & Place:
Site-Specific Art of the Americas

By Editors of Phaidon
From the world's premier publisher of books on the visual arts comes a stunning volume that will delight art lovers and art collectors. Art & Place takes readers to 60 cities across the Americas to some of the most provocative and fascinating site-specific artworks in the Western Hemisphere—illustrating the inexplicable link between the chosen artworks and the places they reside.

Art & Place celebrates the most spectacular, uplifting and outstanding examples of site-specific art in the Americas.”

Other titles you may like from our past Reading Lists

Diego Rivera
Leah Dickerman and
Anna Indych-Lopez
2012 List
Through the Eyes
of the Gods

Bobby Haas
2005 List

J.P. Morgan Reading List: Our Fifteenth Year
Writers' Reflections

The Reading List began as a way for us to share timely, thoughtful and relevant titles that piqued our interest—and that we thought would excite our clients as well. The original list quickly grew to two annual selections, and this year we have reached the 15-year mark.

To celebrate this anniversary, we asked some of our favorite authors from previous lists to share with us their thoughts on writing, imagination, inspiration and the creative process.

Here are their fascinating responses.


The Tipping Point

The most important experience of my life was the nine years I spent working for The Washington Post. When I started there, I was a "writer"—that is, I thought that the point of writing was for the writer to express himself or herself in as complete and profound way as possible. But then I started having to write newspaper stories, and every day was confronted with an editor telling me to make my stories shorter and shorter—without, of course, losing any important details. I fought that for the longest time. I thought it was a contradiction. Now I realize it was a blessing.

Great storytelling is not measured by how complete and profound the story is; it is measured by how economical it is.
A carefully worded paragraph can, in the right hands, run circles around a page.


How to Think Like Benjamin Graham and
Invest Like Warren Buffett

When you present to a group, it’s vital to “know thy audience.” In today’s multi-media world, each medium addresses a different audience, each with their own set of concerns.

Last summer, I wrote a white paper for the Council of Institutional Investors on Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s vision for financial regulation and what it means for investors such as pension funds and private equity. As the financial crisis widened and reform proposals proliferated, I needed to reach an additional audience focused on approaches to financial regulation: academia. That spurred me to write a scholarly article delineating the alternative approaches to financial regulation reform.

From there, I realized that new approaches to financial regulation confront specific problems of accounting with international implications. As I was updating my textbook, Introductory Accounting, Finance and Auditing for Lawyers, I knew this would be pertinent to students across the United States who read it. I also needed a way to communicate these current concerns into a language my own students could understand as it is relevant to our study of corporate law. I pursued this translation on my blog, “Concurring Opinions,” a sort of treadmill for thought and communication.

Taking a step back to see these varying audiences influences how I write to them and focuses my thinking on the ramifications to their lives. The challenge and joy of writing a general interest book like How to Think Like Benjamin Graham and Invest Like Warren Buffett is reaching all these lives and addressing all their diverse concerns under one cover.


Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...
and Others Don't

When I first embarked on a writing career, I devoured dozens of books about the process of writing. I soon realized that each writer has weird tricks and idiosyncratic methods. Some wrote late at night, in the tranquil bubble of solitude created by a sleeping world, while others preferred first morning light. Some cranked out three pages a day, workmanlike, whereas others worked in extended bursts followed by catatonic exhaustion. Some preferred the monastic discipline of facing cinder-block walls, while others preferred soaring views.

I quickly learned that I had to discover my own methods. Most useful, I realized that I have different brains at different times of day. In the morning, I have a creative brain; in the evening, I have a critical brain. If I try to edit in the morning, I’m too creative, and if I try to create in the evening, I’m too critical. So, I go at writing like a two piston machine: create in the morning, edit in the evening, create in the morning, edit in the evening...

Yet all writers seem to agree on one point: writing well is desperately difficult, and it never gets easier. It’s like running: if you push your limits, you can become a faster runner, but you will always suffer. In nonfiction, writing is thinking; if I can’t make the words work, that means I don’t know yet what I think. Sometimes after toiling in a quagmire for dozens (or hundreds) of hours, I throw the whole effort into the wastebasket and start with a blank page. When I sheepishly shared this wastebasket strategy with the great management writer Peter Drucker, he made me feel much better when he exclaimed, “Ah, that is immense progress!”


Beyond Greed and Fear: Understanding Behavioral Finance
and the Psychology of Investing

The financial and economic crisis that hit the world in late 2008 has its roots in human psychology. This means that the crisis is the product of how our collective minds work, rather than energy prices, global warming, or terrorism. This is grist for the mills of academics like me who have spent the last thirty years working to develop behavioral finance, the systematic study of how psychology impacts financial decisions and financial markets.

A lot has changed in the decade since I wrote Beyond Greed and Fear. But human psychology has not changed. When I wrote the book, the challenge was to explain the psychology that permeates the financial landscape. We face a different challenge now. If the global financial crisis has made anything clear, it is that we must find a way to deal with the psychological excesses that have precipitated the most serious economic downturn since the Great Depression.

This crisis motivates me to continue to teach the insights I have gained over the years. I sincerely hope that my efforts help people to structure psychologically intelligent organizations in both private and public sectors. When it comes to risk, there are tried and true steps we can take to reduce the deleterious impact of emotions and biases on our judgments and decisions.


Rambam’s Ladder: A Meditation on Generosity and
Why It Is Necessary to Give

My writing, as well as my life, has been most influenced by my childhood in Seaman, Ohio, population 800, the rural Applachian town where my European parents chose to settle in the 1950s. There were eight churches, mostly Baptist—and us, the town’s diversity. As the daughter of Hungarian-speaking Holocaust survivors, the only Jewish family in town, I had to work hard to fit in, even though I was born and raised in Ohio.

My imagination was fed by stories my parents told my sister and me of a vanished world, and by the bookmobile, the traveling library that drove into town every six weeks. I read voraciously, if indiscriminately, staggering out of that cramped, book-lined trailer with a fresh armload of pleasure, terror, knowledge and mystery. Through those books I felt connected to the universe.

My own children are growing up in New York City, where bookstores and libraries still abound—though they just as often order books online. Back in Seaman, the bookmobile has been replaced by a bricks-and-mortar building. My latest book can be read on Kindle. But the connection remains.


The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century

I find that in these incredibly disruptive times, when both economics and technology seem to be turning everything upside down, there are two sections to go to in the library—one is to escapist fiction and the other is to history.

I have sought succor myself in history, which always calms me down much more than escapist fiction. Why? Because the minute you read a history of Jackson’s Presidency or Ghandi’s India or Churchill’s wartime experiences or FDR’s leadership, you realize that the press was just as noisy back then as they are now, that politicians were just as brutal, narrow-minded and “political” back then as they are now and that the problems of war, poverty and education were actually bigger. And yet, they got through them, and, in the end, democracy survived and societies still managed to thrive. We will too—I hope.


Judgment of Paris: California vs. France and the Historic 1976
Paris Tasting That Revolutionized Wine

I am living proof of Woody Allen’s adage that 80% of success is just showing up. I almost didn’t go to a winetasting in Paris in 1976 that put Napa Valley wines on the map because they topped some of France’s best. I later told the story of the tasting in Judgment of Paris. Fortunately for me, that event and book laid the foundation for a retirement career writing wine books. In the process of writing Judgment, I developed an expertise in wine, which also became my passionate hobby. I have since written two more wine books. The first, To Cork or Not to Cork: Tradition, Romance, and the Battle for the Wine Bottle, is about the hottest debate currently taking place in the wine business: how to seal a bottle. My next one, which will be out in October, is entitled In Search of Bacchus: Wanderings in the Wonderful World of Wine Tourism.


Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An Entrepreneur's
Odyssey to Educate the World's Children

I no longer believe in coincidences. Too often to be mere chance, seemingly random people and moments cross our paths that have profound effects on where we take our next step. For me, it was the ultimate cliché: successful businessman has an epiphany in the mountains of Nepal and decides to give it all away for the sake of a dream.

As I grappled with “should I or shouldn’t I” while shivering in my sleeping bag at 12,000 feet, I sought some diversion from the enormity of the question and grabbed a book out of my pack. “Coincidentally” the book flipped open to a page that began, “There is nothing with which every man is so afraid as getting to know how enormously much he is capable of doing and becoming.” In that sentence, Søren Kierkegaard issued me the challenge that would propel me into the next amazing chapter of my life.


When Markets Collide: Investment Strategies
for the Age of Global Economic Change

I was nervous as I navigated my Cambridge University entrance interview in 1976. I felt that I had dealt well with most of the questions but, importantly, had not done what my schoolteacher had urged me to do: refer to a book that I had recently read and, in the process, signal to the interviewer that my interest in economics went well beyond schoolbooks.

With time running out, I had no choice but to attempt a messy transition to the book, and away from something that had nothing to do with it. My interviewer smiled and asked me to summarize where I agreed with the book.

Confidently, I launched into a well-prepared monologue aimed at demonstrating my understanding and support for its conclusions. Then it all came crashing down. The interviewer asked me a question that totally stumped me. After I was left to fester in my incompetence for a few minutes, he got up and pulled an “off print” from his shelf.

“Here is my published critique of the central thesis of the book,” he said. “Go away and look at it. And, remember, you should not believe everything you read in books. Just because it is in print does not mean it is accurate.”

This episode marked me for life as it vividly reinforced something that my father had told me years earlier: when reading a book, intellectual curiosity should never be allowed to fall victim to appearances, no matter how intimidating. Indeed, books should be approached as containing hypotheses rather than assertions. No author, no matter how famous, has a monopoly on the truth.


Be the Change

For as much as we know about money, the earning, gathering, spending and investing of it, our knowledge of giving it away is remarkably frail. History is strewn with failures, a litany of good intentions and mediocre outcomes. Yet philanthropy may be one of the most exciting dynamic areas of American life, the place where great social innovation is born and the blueprints for the future are being drawn.

Lost on my own path to help others, I sought out the stories of those who had blazed a bright trail, givers who had created wealth and then, with determination and insight, found ways that truly better the lives of others. Our best guide to giving well lies in the successful philanthropic journeys of those who have found ways to change our world. These are tales, I believe, that need to be told. While the stories of great wealth may intrigue us, the stories of great giving inspire us.


The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company
That Is Connecting the World

I'm astonished by the fervor that is the Internet today. In the four years since I published my profile of Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg, the cacophony of information and app-mediated experiences around us has risen to a fever pitch. Facebook itself has burgeoned from 350 million to 1.3 billion users, so more of the planet is in on this cacophony, too.

People talk a lot about a supposed “Internet Bubble,” but I worry more about what might be called an “Information Bubble.” We are continually stimulated by new info, trivial and profound, silly and solemn. Will we lose our ability to discriminate about what's important? It's easier to obsess over an elevator pushing match for an hour than over global warming for a decade, as objectively we must. And I do think that, to some extent, the profane is elbowing out the sacred. I remain a proponent of connectivity as well as the economic and even social virtues of the Net, but every day we head further into terra incognita.


The Corner Office: Indispensable and
Unexpected Lessons from CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed

Leadership is personal.

After interviewing hundreds of CEOs for my “Corner Office” series, I have come to appreciate the importance of that insight, simple as it may seem. And yet leadership often is portrayed in a very different light—with theories and concepts that suggest leadership can be boiled down into a this-is-the-one-thing-that-matters headline or book title. But these cookie-cutter answers quickly break down in practice because, well, people are complicated, and groups of people with shared tasks are exponentially more complicated.

We have to make sense of leadership for ourselves, and build the foundations of our approaches and styles brick-by-brick. What feels right for me? What seems like it will work with the people I’m managing? It’s about finding the balance point amid the push-and-pull forces of leadership—how to be friendly without being friends, how to be both humble and confident, how to know when to step back and when to take control.

These are hard things, and many of the CEOs I’ve interviewed have spent years finding their balance points amid these devilish paradoxes. But there is a payoff for the hard work: they come across as authentic leaders. That builds trust, and trustworthy leaders tend to have followers.



By Invitation Only: How We Built Gilt and
Changed the Way Millions Shop

We hope to see entrepreneurship reach the same gender parity achieved among lawyers and doctors over the past several decades. It is no secret that women have lagged in the field of STEM education, in starting new businesses and in raising funds. However, we had never truly focused on this until a visit in early 2010 to our alma mater led us to a conversation with our beloved Professor Bill Sahlman. He said, let us write a case study on you; we have trouble getting women to tell their stories until they know their story has a successful outcome. This was eye-opening! His comment helped catalyze us to write our book during the very busiest time in our lives.

In taking the time to document our rollercoaster ride, we have shared our twists and turns and maybe have helped to inspire others to consider starting a business. We would like to see the success factors for women entrepreneurs begin to shift. The good news is the tide is turning. Venture funding for women grew to 13% in the first half of 2013, a 20% jump over 2012. A concerted effort from women, as well as men, to solidify networks, emphasize STEM education and ensure investor focus is coming together to create a new ecosystem for female entrepreneurs. And this is only the beginning.


The Soundtrack of My Life

I thought once my book was published that I might change my priorities, travel more and read more books. That’s just not been the case. I’m still living my passion of music, recording Aretha and Jennifer Hudson and preparing the first album, after Whitney’s passing, “Whitney Live” to cement her legacy. A new, young 18-year-old artist, Avery Wilson, has just sung for me and wouldn’t you know it, I’m as excited as ever to find songs for him and help launch his career.

Yes, I’m branching out into the world of theater by co-producing for Broadway a first-class revival of “My Fair Lady” for the fall of 2015, and I am reading fascinating nonfiction, finally catching up with the lives of Washington, Adams and Jefferson. But my true love is contemporary music, being immersed in the creative process for new and established very special artists. It races my blood and continues to make time fly by much too fast.

The Billionaire and the Mechanic:
How Larry Ellison and a Car Mechanic
Teamed Up to Win Sailing's Greatest Race,
the America's Cup

By Julian Guthrie
The 34th America's Cup will be remembered as one of the most exciting and improbable comebacks in the history of offshore yacht racing. But for Larry Ellison, his Oracle Team USA's first win—in 2010—will always be epic. This story of an equally improbable partnership between an auto mechanic and one of the world's wealthiest individuals will captivate sports enthusiasts, amateur yachters and fans of Ellison's helmsman Ben Ainslie.

Join Ben Ainslie and
other America's Cup legends

Other titles you may like from our past Reading Lists

The Last Amateurs
Mark de Rond
2009 List
Laura Hillenbrand
2001 List

An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth:
What Going to Space Taught Me About
Ingenuity, Determination, and
Being Prepared for Anything

By Col. Chris Hadfield
What's worse than being locked out of the house? Having it happen 200 miles above the surface of the Earth while traveling more than 17,000 miles per hour. Journey with Colonel Chris Hadfield as he breaks into a locked space station, and learn how his NASA training prepared him for the seemingly impossible. Hadfield shares his insights into thinking on your feet and maintaining calm during even the direst crises.

"There are no wishy-washy astronauts. You don't get up there by being uncaring and blasé. And whatever gave you the sense of tenacity and purpose to get that far in life is absolutely reaffirmed and deepened by the experience itself."

Other titles you may like from our past Reading Lists

Field Notes from a

Elizabeth Kolbert
2006 List
Alone on the Ice
David Roberts
2013 List

Olives, Lemons & Za'atar:
The Best Middle Eastern
Home Cooking

By Rawia Bishara
Bishara will always be quick to point out that her first name means “storyteller” in Arabic. She deftly lives up to it, taking the reader through tales of her own life and culture, with her beloved cuisine serving as a guide. Bishara has instilled in her book the same warmth and comfort that can be found in her neighborhood eatery, Brooklyn's Tanoreen.

“Truth be told, Middle Eastern cuisine stretches galaxies beyond falafel and shish kebabs. The food I cook is just as varied as, say, Italian cuisine—the dishes are a reflection of geography, climate and agriculture.”

Other titles you may like from our past Reading Lists

A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes
David Tanis, Christopher Hirsheimer (Photographer), Alice Waters (Foreword)

2009 List
Share: The Cookbook
That Celebrates Our
Common Humanity

Women for Women International

2013 List

The Future of the Mind:
The Scientific Quest to Understand,
Enhance, and Empower the Mind

By Michio Kaku
The secrets of the human brain are revealed in this powerful work by renowned physicist and futurist Dr. Michio Kaku. The Future of the Mind guides the reader on a journey of scientific discovery, illustrating that many facets of the world's most intriguing science fiction stories—such as telepathy, telekinesis and mind control—may, in fact, already exist. Kaku provides a glimpse into the potential of future and new possibilities as the human mind becomes linked with modern technology.

“Facts to ponder: there are as many stars in our galaxy (about 100 billion) as there are neurons in your brain; your cell phone has more computing power than NASA had when it landed Apollo 11 on the moon. These seemingly unrelated facts tell us two things: our brains are magnificently complex organisms, and science fiction has a way of becoming reality rather quickly.”
David Pitt, Booklist review

Other titles you may like from our past Reading Lists

Thinking Fast
and Slow

Daniel Kahneman
2012 List
This Is Your Brain
on Music

Daniel J. Levitin
2007 List