Summer content stocking: Elliott, Carnegie, Gonski

Reading lists are a fixture of the holiday period and BlueNotes’ list last year, sourced from ANZ directors and senior executives, was extremely popular. But this year we thought why limit the festive list to reading?

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After all, we’re now in a digital world. We’re all omnivorous when it comes to content food groups. So this year we asked for recommendations for not just reading but watching, listening and flicking.

We hope you enjoy this, our smorgasbord of media content for holiday distraction.

" We asked the ANZ executive team for recommendations not just for reading but watching, listening and flicking."


My first pick is Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino. I have become a HUGE fan of this Japanese Crime Author. These are possibly the most fiendishly clever crime books I have read, a wonderful mix of detective stories and science set in Japan and written and translated in a clean, elegant style that really reminds you of the Japanese aesthetic.

I have read all his other books and recommend them to anyone who likes a good offbeat crime novel.

I will also read The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan - which has sat on my bedside table for far too long. Lots of cookbooks too as part of my vacation is cooking for the family and trying new things. 

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We’ll be watching lots of movies with my 11-year-old daughter so I have pulled together a range of older films I think she will love like The Goonies, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Hocus Pocus and Back to the Future.

I’ll also download the TV series ‘The Night Manager’ for the long plane ride to and from vacation…

That said, I will be turning off my digital life as much as possible - I think changing habits and doing things differently is also part of a holiday. 


Understanding the impact of technology is both a personal fascination and a requirement of my job - although I would suggest it’s also the requirement for all senior leaders these days! 

The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly explores the 12 core technologies that will shape our lives for the next 30 years.  Kevin is co-founder of Wired magazine and a great writer so I am looking forward to it.

I am also going to finish Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari, which is a less-optimistic prediction of humankind's future. I'm only on about page 35 and need some down time to properly get into it!

The book suggests that data will undermine our freedom and there will be an uncoupling of intelligence from consciousness.  It is from the same author as Sapiens which was excellent, so I'm expecting this to be as good.


The book of the year for me was The Stupidity Paradox: The Power and Pitfalls of Functional Stupidity at Work by Mats Alvesson and Andre Spicer.

As an aside I recommended it to the Prime Minister - and I noted in the Sun Herald he had it on his reading list for Christmas.

Apart from reading, I thought the TV series River was outstanding. I would also insist, when it comes to exhibitions, the Art Gallery of NSW exhibition Nudes from the Tait collection is a must. (David is chairman of the AGNSW Trust - ed)

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I highly recommend my favourite movie of the year The Founder, an insight into the moral choices made to achieve entrepreneurial greatness. For podcasts, you can't beat an episode of This American Life, the wonderful US public radio show hosted by Ira Glass about, well, American life.

The coolest app I downloaded this year was BrushesRedux – I got into it after viewing the David Hockney Exhibition at NGV and haven't stopped doodling since.

For an Inspiring read, Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf, short but very poignant.

And my guilty pleasure: online shopping ( and


A great read if you are a golfer is The Match: The Day the Game of Golf Changed Forever by Mark Frost.

The story of a legendary game between Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson and two good amateurs that happened at Cypress Point Club, a world top three golf course. Once you start you won't stop.

And I’d recommend any book by spy writer Daniel Silva. The English Girl is excellent. I'll be reading his new book, The Black Widow.


A hankering for simpler times and nostalgia is not only driving politics globally, I confess it's also driving my own summer choices.

Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan had a backing band in the late 60s, appropriately named The Band. They were also hugely successful and influential in their own right. Music From the Big Pink (1968) was the backing track to many ‘social sessions’ while I was at university in Hobart a decade later. (Although these social sessions now serve to remind me that these simpler times had many downsides and nostalgia is not all it is made out to be).

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I still love The Band's music and as I write am listening to Ric Danko sing It Makes No Difference.  And of course Martin Scorcese's film of The Band's final concert The Last Waltz is a masterpiece.

Who can forget Joni Mitchell's amazing performance of Coyote or the assembled guests including Neil Young and Eric Clapton belting out Dylan's I Shall Be Released with the man himself? (Now re-released in special editions.)

My summer reading almost 40 years later of course is all about this nostalgia: Barney Hoskyns’ Small Town Talk is the story of bohemian Woodstock in the Hudson Valley about 100 miles from New York.  By the mid-1960s it’s had become home to Dylan and the Band and later to Jimmy Hendrix, Paul Butterfield and Janis Joplin.  If you love the music and want to understand what the 70s did to the Summer of Love this promises to be a great read like all Barney’s rock and roll books. 

Back in Hobart recently, I saw Robbie Robertson’s behind the scenes memoir Testimony.  Robbie was the all too handsome, all too cool leader of The Band.  The bookshop owner warned me it was a bit too much about him. Of course, what else would you expect? I happily parted with $39.95 to read more about my heroes.

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My husband bought me a subscription to The New Yorker in October for my birthday - the timing was perfect, in light of what is happening in the US - and I will spend the holidays reading all the stories that I haven't go to yet.

I enjoy listening to Rachael Kohn's The Spirit of Things on the ABC - a good break from banking issues - so will catch up on episodes I have missed via podcasts over the holidays.

I’ve also downloaded a number of books to read: Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel - an apocalyptic book with a Shakespearean theme; The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes - one of my favourite authors; and The Mandibles by Lionel Shriver - she always has something to say.


To make Christmas day more enjoyable for both myself and family I provide a list of books that could make ideal gifts (I do not need any more socks). My strategy is to choose a few serious books to start, aware they get harder and harder to read as I relax (when I switch to fiction)…

I am interested in better understanding why dis-enfranchised men are more politically active, supporting the rise of far-right parties in a number of countries and Trump as the leader of the free world. Two books explore this: Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance about the struggles of the white working class in the USA rust belt; All that Man is by David Szalay a book of short stories, which The New York Times noted showed "masculinity under duress....the way men compare themselves to other men and come up long for respect they have forfeited or never earned...they have failed tests they did not realise that were taking".

We are living longer in a world where technology is threatening our idea of work. Bill Gates recommended The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee; it deals with new gene therapy and the ethical questions raised, including who gets access.

I thought the title was a bit too obvious but Only humans need apply - Winners and Losers in the age of smart machines by Julia Kirby & Thomas Davenport has had great reviews and paints a potentially positive path despite the authors’ expectations of "nearly half of all working Americans risk losing their jobs to technology."

I am also looking forward to Kenneth Rogoff's The Curse of Cash - an idea I support. The book is timely with Indian Prime Minister Modi's bold move to withdraw the 500 and 1000 rupee notes in India by the end of December.

To round out I love Ian McEwan's novels and have asked for his new book The Nutshell which sounds like it has nice parallels with Hamlet. I am also a sucker for the Booker prize short list and have asked for The Sellout by Paul Beatty about a Black slave owning watermelon farmer in California who wants to reintroduce segregation in Los Angeles.


I’ll be reading Les Parisiennes by Anne Sebba which documents the story of how women lived, loved and died in the Paris of the 40s. It was recommended to me by a friend in the Canberra Press Gallery and sounds fascinating.

I’ll also catch up on the third series of Peaky Blinders which aired in the UK this year and which the Guardian described variously as "sickeningly good" and "brilliant".  This is a binge watch opportunity and I can’t wait. 

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I discovered the first series on a plane somewhere and watched Series 2 last Christmas. This is becoming a tradition as the BBC has commissioned two more series.  Sam Neill is a familiar face in a great cast.

And I’ll be trying really hard to listen to all 100 episodes of the BBC radio 4 podcast A history of the world in 100 objects. This brings to life the exhibition which is on at the National Museum in Canberra (until 29 January).

Each episode documents an item and represents a lesson in itself about the history of the world.

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

editor's picks

02 Dec 2016

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