2019 holiday content list: read, watch, listen

There’s nothing better than relaxing with a good book while on holidays. But in the digital era, why limit your to-do list to paper backs? We asked ANZ directors and senior executives what they watched, read and listened to this year – or plan to over Summer!

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David Gonski – Chairman, ANZ

The Loudest Voice on Stan was the stand out for me as a miniseries. The story of Roger Ailes and his raise and fall was fascinating, the acting superb, the script entertaining.

Sylvia - by the Australian Ballet in conjunction with the Houston ballet company - was outstanding. The Prima ballerina from Houston dances like I have never seen anyone in recent times and the music was wonderful.

The Beauty Queen of Leeanne at the Sydney Theatre company was excellent. It is basically a two-hander between Noni Hazlehurst and Yael Stone. As mother and daughter, they explore a very dark relationship. The script is good, the acting outstanding.

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Pic: Syliva by the Australian and Houston ballet companies

Shayne Elliott – Chief Executive Officer, ANZ

As a family, our TV and movies on our break will include a throwback – the original TV series, The Paper Chase. My wife and I both remember loving this when it first appeared and our daughter is flirting with the idea of studying law so we plan on spending a few hours watching this classic.

We will be in Rome for our break and, given our love of history, we will no doubt be visiting museums - the good news is while the history doesn’t change, the way of experiencing it does. We will be going back to Domus Aurea which was Nero’s Palace. Part of that experience is a 3D Virtual Reality headset that blows your mind! There is also a new 3D VR experience at the Hippodrome which we have yet to try.

We live in digital world but for me holidays are about tradition and what better tradition than reading a real book - plus, a technology free few weeks is highly valued by me!

Some of the titles I’m looking forward to include:

  1. The Anarchy follows the relentless rise of The East India Company. It was given to me by my colleague Farhan Faruqui (ANZ Group Exec – International) as he knows I love India and its history. This is one of history’s great stories and I look forward to the combination of Indian history and the story of the world’s first true multinational corporation.
  2. I am a big fan of Billy Connolly and have seen him live many times over the years so I am planning to read his biography Tall Tales and Wee Stories on the long haul plane trip!
  3. Originally released in 1977, Dispatches by Michael Herr is allegedly the best book on men at war. Michael was the Vietnam War correspondent for Esquire magazine and his book is described as “revolutionary new journalism”.
  4. After the passing of Clive James – whose books I love – I watched a documentary on his life which mentioned his friendship and respect for Kingsley and Martin Amis. Kingsley Amis may be well know but I realised I wasn’t familiar with his work so I’ve added Lucky Jim to my list.
  5. My daughter recommended Good Omens. We have both read Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s other work so I am intrigued to see how they have collaborated on this book.
  6. I thought Upheaval: How Nations Cope with Crisis and Change would be both interesting and educational - I may get some ideas on how better to prepare ANZ for change!
  7. Marc Benioff is the founder of Salesforce and while I don’t generally read business biographies, I have heard Marc speak and I am intrigued by his ideas and thinking so I thought I would give his book Trailblazer a go. Plus, as ANZ is using Salesforce as a tool, I thought getting an insider’s view may make sense if we are to use Salesforce to change the bank for the better.

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Pic: Domus Aurea, Rome

Alexis George – Deputy CEO and Group Executive Wealth, ANZ

I am addicted to podcasts as I try to walk early every morning with my dogs and they keep me entertained. My go to ones are Conversations by the ABC because I am just fascinated with people and the amazing things they are able to achieve. Inside the Strategy Room by McKinsey is great because it’s important to keep on challenging yourself with new ways of thinking. I also like Please Explain by the Sydney Morning Herald because it makes complex issues (that you are embarrassed to ask about) simple.

For a bit of fun, I have just finished a book by Richard Glover called The Land Before Avocado which was hilarious and reminded me totally of my childhood. I had forgotten we did not actually have avocado as a kid - and, like everyone else, I am addicted to a bit of smashed avocado on toast! On a more serious note, I have been enjoying Shoe Dog by Phil Knight which is the story of Nike and is a fascinating tale.

As always, I watched The Bachelorette for a bit of light entertainment but sadly I missed the ending due to work! (Don’t tell me who won…)

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Pic: The Bachelorette Australia 2019

Graeme Liebelt - Non-Executive Director & Chair, Risk Committee, ANZ

2019 has been a very busy year work-wise for me and so I have not had a chance to read as much as I would like (I blame those voluminous ANZ board papers!).

Two novels I did read were Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak (he also wrote The Book Thief, which I really enjoyed) and Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton. Both books are a sensitive take on growing up in pretty raw and harsh circumstances and I would recommend them both.

The only television series I watched was Killing Eve. The action scenes are far-fetched but the writing and acting are really good. We are in a golden age of television writing and I wish I watched more!

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Pic: Bridge of Clay

Ilana Atlas - Non-Executive Director, ANZ & Chairman, Coca-Cola Amatil

This year feels like it has been very busy and pressured, so the little time I had was spent indulging in books, binging series or listening to podcasts.

A few shows I enjoyed this year included Total Control - a fantastic Australian political drama, Years and Years with Emma Thompson and keeping tabs on America’s political drama on CNN. Also on the political theme, I enjoyed Matt Bevan’s podcast Russia, If You’re Listening which is now onto season three. I continued to enjoy the New York Times cooking app - for the pictures and the aspiration.

As for novels, I always read the Booker Prize winner and as many of the shortlist as I can fit in. Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo is worth reading. And On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong - for the magnificent title if nothing else.

And then of course there was Saturday Night Live - to put everything in perspective.

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Pic: Russia, If You’re Listening?

John Macfarlane – Independent Non-Executive Director, ANZ

Over the break, I want to really to think about the “digital asset” space more – mainly in the context of the history of money and a variety of assets as a store of value. There is an enormous amount occurring in the space (as we are aware of at ANZ) however, over the last 12 months a number of people who I have known for many years and who have backgrounds in macro-trading, risk management and history have begun to focus on particular opportunities. To some extent they talk my language and, as such, are making the space and the opportunities more accessible.

Dan Tapiero made his reputation as a portfolio manager and trader for people like Julian Robertson and Stan Druckenmiller. His video Bitcoin, Gold and the Future of Macro Investing is very thought provoking. Some other good videos include Is the Future of Money Gold, Crypto or Fiat?, History of Money and Cryptocurrency and Bitcoin Will Replace Gold and Other Predictions?

Some books I’m excited to read include The Bitcoin Standard by Saifedean Ammous, Targeted by Britanny Kaiser and Blowout by Rachel Maddow. Blowout is almost a political thriller on the global oil and gas industry and its influence on politics and economics. Some of the best books I have read have been centred on this industry.

As someone with a love of cars, I also have a book on Formula One to read which has a local twist: Brabham by Tony Davis and Akos Armont is a biography of Jack Brabham, the Australian mechanic who won the World Championship in 1959, 1960 and 1966. I also think he was the only Formula One world champion who built his own car and won the championship in a car carrying his own name.

As per above, in addition to Ford vs Ferrari, I intend to watch Shelby American, the Netflix documentary on Carroll Shelby, one of the major characters of the current “based on a true story” movie!

I am intending to spend Christmas at our family beach house at Moggs Creek on the Great Ocean Road. We may not have reticulated water or sewerage but we do have NBN so watching Netflix won’t be a problem!

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Pic: Ford vs Ferrari at Le Mans, 1966

Jane Halton - Non-Executive Director, ANZ & Chairman, Vault Systems

I intend to watch the newest season of The Crown over the Christmas holidays. It’s compelling watching and while the current series has had a change of cast, it has been highly recommended.

If you have a taste for things American, These Truths - a single volume history of the US by Jill Lepore - would make a great read.  If your taste is more political, you could try Siege: Trump Under Fire by Michael Wolff.  My copy was passed on by an American colleague as ideal plane reading but it is still on my pile of unread books so I intend to tackle it over the break.  

Another book I was given by an American travelling companion (who was keen to lighten his load) is The Displaced - an anthology of writing by refugees on their lives. It was edited by Viet Thanh Nguyen, a refugee and a Pulitzer Prize winner. I ended up with the book after my companion asked what the vegetable morning glory was. It features in Kai Kalia Yang’s essay on life as a child in a refugee camp on the Thai border. Having explained both what it was and how it was cooked, we then had to go and sample the dish.  

For the literary minded, Margaret Atwood’s sequel to her highly popular Handmaid’s Tale, Testaments, should satisfy. 

Finally, there will be a number of releases next year which are on my list when they are published. If you are on a long flight and have space in your luggage, the third volume of the current Hilary Mantel series: The Mirror and the Light will be ideal.  If you like biographies, then the new authorised biography of Dorothy Lessing by Patrick French is a must read. You can catch a preview on the BBC4 podcast

I am also looking forward to the new Sidney Allen thriller by ABC journalist Michael Brissenden due for release in September. It is the much anticipated follow up to his first book. 

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Pic: Stir fried morning glory

Sir John Key – GNZM AC Independent Non-Executive Director, ANZ

Over the break I am going to download David Cameron’s audiobook, For The Record. He told me it’s taken him months to record it all! At home, we are watching the newest season of The Crown like everyone else but if you haven’t watched Narcos yet then it should be on the to-do list.

My daughter worked as a costume designer on the revival of the 1967 classic, Doctor Dolittle, in the new musical showing at the London Theatre so I have to recommend that to everyone!  

And lastly, I have Tiger Woods’ new book, Roaring Back, on my list of things to read. 

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Pic: Doctor Dolittle: The Musical at the London Theatre

Paula Dwyer - Non-Executive Director, ANZ & Chairman, Tabcorp & Healthscope

My go-to relaxation is playing Scrabble with (aka against!) my husband but we also enjoyed a number of great shows together this year. We recently subscribed to Stan for the sole purpose of watching Billions. I binged the first four seasons and thoroughly enjoyed it - bring on season five! I also found The Loudest Voice compelling but cannot say I enjoyed Roger Ailes’ creepy character. I also loved watching season two of The Kominsky Method on Netflix.

This year I found some brilliant new apps to enjoy, including Alltrails - a guide to walks (short or long) anywhere in the world. I also downloaded the Nike Training Club app so I can enjoy fitness anywhere.

My children keep talking about the new Kirsten Dunst series On Becoming a God in Central Florida so I have that queued up for the break. I’m also still listening to the New York Times’ podcast, The Daily and, of course, the radio station 3RRR.

Finally, my guilty pleasure for my weekly Melbourne-Sydney-Melbourne commute is flicking through Hello Magazine for an essential dose of celebrity news. But aside from that, some books I’ve enjoyed this year include Hippies by Paul Coelho and Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner.

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Pic: Alltrails app

Kevin Corbally – Chief Risk Officer, ANZ

A couple of months ago, I finally found the time to read through Peter Bernstein’s worldwide bestseller Against the Gods, the Remarkable Story of Risk. This is a fascinating exploration of human society and the revolutionary idea that what defines the boundary between modern times and the past is the mastery of risk. In the past the druids, oracles and soothsayers had a monopoly over the knowledge of future events, however, this book tells the remarkable story of those men and women throughout the years who showed the world how to understand risk, measure it and weigh its consequences - and thereby convert risk-taking into one of the prime catalysts that drive modern society.

I have finally committed to finding the time this holiday period to sit down and tuck into what is universally regarded as the most comprehensive and classic tome/collection of myths and legends of pre-Christian Ireland - Lady Gregory’s Complete Irish Mythology. I can’t wait to be transported back to my childhood and stories full of giants and heroes, enchanted maidens and battles, including the tales of Cuchulainn (who, legend says, grew up in the town in which I lived in Ireland!), of the Tuatha de Danaan and of Fionn MacCumhail.

I also am keen to read Knife, the latest instalment in the Harry Hole series from Scandinavia’s king of crime fiction, Jo Nesbo. It will be true escapism and one of those books I know will keep me up all night turning the pages.  

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Pic: Against the Gods, the Remarkable Story of Risk

Antonia Watson – Group Executive & CEO, New Zealand, ANZ

My preferred relaxation is with a novel of the airport trash genre on my Kindle. Currently I am planning to continue the Jennifer Donnelly series which started with The Tea Rose and the Lucinda Riley series that started with The Seven Sisters. Both have an element of historical fiction, so you learn while you read. In The Seven Sisters you learn about the design and construction of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro. The second book in the series, The Storm Sister is about life in Norway during World War II. The Tea Rose series puts you among the working class of the East End of London and the terrible conditions they lived and worked under in the 19th century.

I’m currently working my way through The Crown, which I am loving. Olivia Colman as the Queen and Helena Bonham-Carter as Princess Margaret are both outstanding.

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Pic: The Storm Sister

Richard Yetsenga – Chief Economist, ANZ

I have a few candidates for my book of the year. Three are translations: The Eight Mountains by Paulo Cognetti, Girl by Edna O’Brien and Amateur: A True Story About What Makes a Man by Thomas Page McBee. All are short, and fantastic in their own way. For me, The Eight Mountains wins - probably because I have visited the territory in which the novel is set. It has entered my top five all-time novels, along with Highways To War, The Corpse Washer and A Little Life.

This year I’ve watched less free-to-air TV than any time previously because streaming seems to offer endless possibilities. My favourite series included Fauda – a spy series set in the Middle East. I also liked Jack Ryan because I will watch anything with John Krasinski. I am also enjoying See with Jason Momoa.

Over the holidays, apart from a few books which don’t take much effort (maybe another by Michael Robotham, who has become my binge read), I would like to fully get through The Sydney Wars, Dark Emu and Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World (which will be my second go at it). I was also given copies of both volumes of On The Record: Huawei Executives Speak To The Public which I will try and cover.

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Pic: John Krasinski as Jack Ryan

Gerard Florian – Group Executive Technology, ANZ

Because I tend to do more listening than reading, I am always consuming podcasts. Some of my favourites include:

  • Exponent by Ben Thompson and James Allworth - where strategy tech and business collide
  • Breaking Banks by Brett King – a weekly update on all things fintech
  • a16z by Andreessen Horowitz – weekly commentary on what is happening in Silicon Valley
  • The Tim Ferris Show by Tim Ferris – deconstructing life lessons from uber-successful businesses
  • The Knowledge Project by Shane Parrish – helps you master the best of what other people have already figured out

I’m also currently listening to Just Kids by Patti Smith. An amazing narrative about a classic time in the music industry.

At the moment, I’m reading The Emperors Handbook - C Scot Hicks’ translation of Marcus Aurelius' Meditations. I’m enjoying watching the quality reality TV show Love on the Spectrum on ABC as well as the Black Mirror series on Netflix about the dystopian impact of technology. I also just finished reading Sapiens and watching Inside Bill’s Brain – a three part Netflix series about Bill Gates.

On my to-do list for the break, I want to read What You Do is Who You Are by Ben Horowitz and finally be able to binge Silicon Valley on HBO. After the passing of Australian writer Clive James, I also plan on reading his 1981 classic, Unreliable Memoirs.

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Pic: Bill Gates in Inside Bill’s Brain

Mark Whelan - Group Executive Institutional, ANZ

Over the break I'm planning on reading Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Workplace by Ricardo Semler. Some friends recommended it as a 1990’s management classic that has stood the test of time - the cover says it all!

I’m also planning on reading A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman. My whole family has recommended it - apparently there’s a character in it I’ll recognise.

Like many others, I'm also currently watching The Crown

I’m not a current consumer of podcasts but I'm keen to start so I'll be taking some recommendations from my colleagues above!

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Pic: Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Workplace

Enjoy this list? You can see our recommendations from 2018 HERE.

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

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