Diving into the imaginary world of a good novel can provide busy executives with a creative break from the daily grind of reports and presentations.
From the excitement of a drama to the inspiration of a timeless classic, there’s something to suit every person’s interests.
If you’re looking for a great new (or old) book to read, why not try one of these 17 Australian executives’ favourite fiction books.
Here they are.
Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
Both a favourite and a classic, CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. The book takes me to another world, and I love getting lost in it.
— Tara Commerford, Vice President and Managing Director, GoDaddy ANZ
The Harry Potter series
Has to be Harry Potter.
— Adam Schwab, Co-Founder and CEO of Luxury Escapes
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
I am more of a non-fiction man myself, but the Da Vinci Code is one that stands out. I basically like reading or watching anything that provides puzzles or problems that need to be solved and observing the strategies that people go through to overcome them. And the Da Vinci Code is puzzle after puzzle.
— Ryan Hanly, CEO & Co-Founder at Travello
Pride and Prejudice
I’m actually not a fan of “bonnet” drama and can claim to have never watched an episode of Downton Abbey. That said, I first read Pride and Prejudice back in my school days, and for some reason I find myself reading it almost every other year. I think Elizabeth Bennet is a captivating character in breaking down traditional perspectives on women and the class system.
— Simon Banks, SVP and MD of APAC, Hyperwallet
The Day of the Jackal
My favourite book is still Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth, I read it as a young teenager in the early 90s and it was already 20 plus years old back then. It is fictional but set against true historical events, a story of an assassination attempt against France’s President De Gaulle. The suspense, the detail, the page-tuning anticipation of what would happen next. It captured my imagination for story-telling and adventure, the prose felt so very real and that it still does today (I must have re-read it ten times) is a measure of its classic status – and influenced so many of the thriller writers that came after.
— James Wright, Global CEO of Havas PR Collective
Animal Farm by George Orwell
I don’t get a lot of time to read, but love the satisfaction of finishing a story. So in recent years I’ve been working my way through the short classics. Animal Farm is one of the best; hugely entertaining with a timeless message about power. It’s also a celebration of writing. Unlike many stories these days there’s no long winded set-up – you discover the animals can talk on paragraph two. It’s up there with my favourite books of all time.
— Ken Wallace, CEO of Educator Impact
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty is a really thought provoking novel based around an uncovered secret. It reminds you that any point everything you know can be flipped on its head and be put into question.
— Kym Atkins, CEO of The Volte
Who is Rich by Matthew Klam
Good, light, summer read and very funny and sad at the same time. The male protoagonist is relatable but doomed. An easy one for long weekends by the beach.
— Adrian Przelozny, CEO of Independent Reserve
The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
It’s just a complete story and stands on its own. I’m not always big on the fantasy genre, but The Hobbit is truly awesome. It transcends genres as its just such a well written and enjoyable story for all ages. It still brings a smile to my face thinking about the first time I read it.
— Richard Watson, Country Director of Twilio
The Way of Kings: The Stormlight Archive Book One by Brandon Sanderson
I have a soft spot for Sci-Fi and Fantasy and Brandon Sanderson’s work in particular. I think there is a natural draw to these genres for people in the tech space as being in tech is all about creating things that weren’t in the world before.
— Elliot Smith, CEO of Maxwell Plus
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams
I grew up on Sci-Fi and a bit of a nerd – when released this book was like nothing I had ever read. The concepts, the irony and humour is fantastic. Every once in a while, they get a re-read and I still smile when I and others reference quotes from the series. Best quote from the first book: “the mighty ships tore across the empty wastes of space and finally dived screaming on to the first planet they came across – which happened to be the Earth – where due to a terrible miscalculation of scale the entire battle fleet was accidentally swallowed by a small dog.”
— Greg Bader, CEO of Rent.com.au
1984 by George Orwell
This book now feels more relevant than ever. I read it in high school, and at the time that kind of dystopian world seemed so far away. Recently though, I’ve seen a lot of events and situations around the world where you can’t help but draw some very real parallels to elements from this novel.
— Detch Singh, Co-CEO and Co-founder of Hypertap
The Trial by Franz Kafka
A tale of how faceless and inhumane bureaucracy can impinge on civil and human rights. Written 100 years ago it contains many lessons for the current world. A world in which ironically the technology that was supposed to decentralise power and empower the people is increasingly, for better or for worse being used by governments to monitor and control.
— Adrian Harrison, CEO of Huobi Australia
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
There are so many takeaway messages throughout this book that can be used in everyday life as well as in business. They are: perseverance in the face of adversity, humility, respect and reputation, and accomplishment.
— Zane Yoshida, CEO of Fiji Kava
A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman
I found this book to be very touching. It depicts the essence of the experience of the Israeli born children of Holocaust survivors during the pioneering years of the state. It captures the immense capacity and struggle within human nature to love imperfect/ damaged/ broken people and family members. The book was awarded the Man Booker International prize and was the first Israeli born author to win such major international recognition.
— Haggai Alon, CEO of Security Matters
The Italian by Ann Radcliffe
A masterpiece of gothic fiction from the late 18th century. Set during the Holy Inquisition, its dark and mysterious tone carries you through a story of love and persecution, while touching on then contemporary issues to do with the French Revolution. Just quietly, I think it pips the Twilight series.
— Ross Macdonald, CEO of Cynata
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Anything by Charles Dickens but my favourite would be Great Expectations. Whilst plot is always paramount, I’ve never encountered an author as brilliant as Dickens in character development; they are simply superb.
— Jaimie Fuller, Executive Chairman of SKINS
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