World Book Day - 25 Books You Need to Read!
In celebration of World Book Day and Vistatec’s 25th anniversary we asked numerous Vistatec employees from different backgrounds to recommend their favourite book and tell us why. No stone was left unturned, no book genre forgotten, with the help of our internal teams we’ve compiled a list of 25 books you need to read!
Table of Contents
City of Light By Dave Warner
Recommended by: Thomas Murray / CEO
Reason: “Captures the Australian character of the time perfectly.”
Bio: The year is 1901. Buffalo, New York, is poised for glory. With its booming industry and newly electrified streets, Buffalo is a model for the century just beginning. Louisa Barrett has made this dazzling city her home. Headmistress of Buffalo’s most prestigious school, Louisa is at ease in a world of men, protected by the titans of her city. But nothing prepares her for a startling discovery: evidence of a murder tied to the city’s cathedral-like power plant at nearby Niagara Falls.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R Tolkien
Recommended by: Patrick Kelly / CCO
Reason: “I loved the mystical, magical element describing the struggle of an earlier time, but it was ultimately how the brotherhood and camaraderie that brought the Fellowship together from different backgrounds and cultures to fight a common foe that made the story so unique. This theme can be applied as much today as when Tolkien wrote it all those years ago. His descriptions of the various regions and kingdoms, like the Shire and Rivendell, were incredibly vivid and brought them to life in my mind’s eye as I read the books. Fabulous!”
Bio: Sauron, the Dark Lord, has gathered to him all the Rings of Power – the means by which he intends to rule Middle-earth. All he lacks in his plans for dominion is the One Ring – the ring that rules them all – which has fallen into the hands of the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins. In a sleepy village in the Shire, young Frodo Baggins finds himself faced with an immense task, as his elderly cousin Bilbo entrusts the Ring to his care. Frodo must leave his home and make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ring and foil the Dark Lord in his evil purpose.
`Salems Lot By Stephen King
Recommended by: Adam Thompson / CFO
Reason: “It reminds me of my upbringing in Belfast when I used to see Vampire movies and they scared the James Street out of me.”
Bio: Thousands of miles away from the small township of ‘Salem’s Lot, two terrified people, a man and a boy, still share the secrets of those clapboard houses and tree-lined streets. They must return to ‘Salem’s Lot for a final confrontation with the unspeakable evil that lives on in the town.
Les Misérables By Victor Hugo
Recommended by: Alan Duffy / Localisation Group Manager
Reason: “It’s the first novel I read in French – I know, I could have picked an easier one. It covers everything from prejudice, hope, redemption, justice. I was living in France at the time, and the book had been written over 125 years earlier. But I was visiting the same streets and monuments in Paris for the first time, so it added an extra resonance for me.”
Bio: Victor Hugo’s tale of injustice, heroism and love follows the fortunes of Jean Valjean, an escaped convict determined to put his criminal past behind him. But his attempts to become a respected member of the community are constantly put under threat: by his own conscience, when, owing to a case of mistaken identity, another man is arrested in his place; and by the relentless investigations of the dogged Inspector Javert. It is not simply for himself that Valjean must stay free, however, for he has sworn to protect the baby daughter of Fantine, driven to prostitution by poverty.
The Bone People By Keri Hulme
Recommended by: Melanie Howes / DevOps Manager
Reason: “The prose is magical, written by a poet and incorporating Maori language and imagery. It tells the story of 3 complicated people, two adults and a child, all isolated or outcast in their own way, often communicating through violence, which can be hard to read about but makes the characters seem more real somehow, eventually finding a loving way forward in the end. This book is unique.”
Bio: In a tower on the New Zealand sea lives Kerewin Holmes: part Maori, part European, asexual and aromantic, an artist estranged from her art, a woman in exile from her family.
One night her solitude is disrupted by a visitor—a speechless, mercurial boy named Simon, who tries to steal from her and then repays her with his most precious possession.
As Kerewin succumbs to Simon’s feral charm, she also falls under the spell of his Maori foster father Joe, who rescued the boy from a shipwreck and now treats him with an unsettling mixture of tenderness and brutality.
In the Ould Ago By Johnny McKeagney
Recommended by: Siobhan Gantly / CHRO
Reason: “This is more a coffee table book that you can dip in and out of. It’s a book of illustrations about old Irish folklore. The older I get the more I appreciate history and this is a beautifully simple book which covers so much about life in Ireland long ago. Makes me feel very nostalgic. “
Bio: ‘In The Ould Ago’, meaning a long time ago, is a book of Illustrated Irish Folklore book by Johnny McKeagney. Comprising of two hundred intricately hand-drawn illustrated pages of Irish traditions, crafts, history, emigration, countryside, farming ways, wildlife, myths and customs it is all sewn together in a case-bound hardback A3 size cover.
Wolf Hall By Hilary Mantel
Recommended by: Unn Villius / CSO
Reason: “Her language is incredibly beautiful, and she manages to bring to life and utterly humanize what I could best describe as a ‘tricky’ historical figure in Thomas Cromwell. Not to mention a totally gripping retelling of what could otherwise have been a tired repeat of Henry VIII and his vagaries. The 16th century feels very close, nearly too close for comfort.”
Bio: England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell: a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people, and implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?
A Clockwork Orange By Anthony Burgess
Recommended by: Raquel Del Álamo / Supply Chain Business Partner
Reason: ” It’s deeply moving and philosophical, overall mind-wrecking.”
Bio: In Anthony Burgess’s influential nightmare vision of the future, criminals take over after dark. Teen gang leader Alex narrates in fantastically inventive slang that echoes the violent intensity of youth rebelling against society. Dazzling and transgressive, A Clockwork Orange is a frightening fable about good and evil and the meaning of human freedom. This edition includes the controversial last chapter not published in the first edition, and Burgess’s introduction, “A Clockwork Orange Resucked.”
Alchemy By Rory Sutherland
Recommended by: Simon Hodgkins / CMO
Reason: “A case for thinking differently. Stuff that doesn’t make logical sense sometimes really works.”
Bio: To be brilliant, you have to be irrational
Why is Red Bull so popular – even though everyone hates the taste? Why do countdown boards on platforms take away the pain of train delays? And why do we prefer stripy toothpaste?
We think we are rational creatures. Economics and business rely on the assumption that we make logical decisions based on evidence.
But we aren’t, and we don’t.
The Book Thief By Markus Zusak
Recommended by: Kara Bolt / Director of Life Sciences
Reason: “It was a book that lingered with me long after reading it. It is very different in that the narrator of the story is Death telling the story of a young girl in Germany during World War II.”
Bio: It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will be busier still.
By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, left behind there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordian-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.
Ismail By Daniel Quinn
Recommended by: Jackie Janeri / Program Manager – Life Sciences
Reason: “The book was written 20 years ago but remains relevant. The story is narrated by a young man who responds to an ad in a newspaper that reads “Teacher seeks pupil. Must have a desire to save the world”. The teacher is a captive Gorilla named Ishmael who communicates with the narrator telepathically. During their time together, Ishmael explains how our culture is constantly whispering in our ear to ignore the fact that humans are destroying the natural world. Ishmail encourages the narrator to go out in the world and teach others to be accountable for their actions, be in balance with the natural world to ensure its survival and the survival of humanity.”
Bio: The narrator of this extraordinary tale is a man in search for truth. He answers an ad in a local newspaper from a teacher looking for serious pupils, only to find himself alone in an abandoned office with a full-grown gorilla who is nibbling delicately on a slender branch. “You are the teacher?” he asks incredulously. “I am the teacher,” the gorilla replies. Ishmael is a creature of immense wisdom and he has a story to tell, one that no other human being has ever heard. It is a story that extends backward and forward over the lifespan of the earth from the birth of time to a future there is still time save. Like all great teachers, Ishmael refuses to make the lesson easy; he demands the final illumination to come from within ourselves. Is it man’s destiny to rule the world? Or is it a higher destiny possible for him– one more wonderful than he has ever imagined?
Start With Why By Simon Sinek
Recommended by: Cormac Eklof / Senior Program Manager
Reason: “It’s a very enjoyable read, positive but progressive, lots of great, inspiring stories and very appropriate for the modern working world.”
Bio: START WITH WHY asks (and answers) the questions: why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty from customers and employees alike? Even among the successful, why are so few able to repeat their success over and over?
1984 By George Orwell
Recommended by: Fiachra Synnott / Project Management Operations Director
Reason: “Because when I first read it, I was a teenager and in that initial read, felt it was overtly cynical. However, as I get older (and we see what kind of world the 21st century is turning into), unfortunately it seems that George Orwell was only too right in terms of how power can corrupt and democracies can be manipulated into surrendering too much to the “strongman” model.”
Bio: Among the seminal texts of the 20th century, Nineteen Eighty-Four is a rare work that grows more haunting as its futuristic purgatory becomes more real. Published in 1949, the book offers political satirist George Orwell’s nightmarish vision of a totalitarian, bureaucratic world and one poor stiff’s attempt to find individuality. The brilliance of the novel is Orwell’s prescience of modern life—the ubiquity of television, the distortion of the language—and his ability to construct such a thorough version of hell. Required reading for students since it was published, it ranks among the most terrifying novels ever written.
Don Quixote By Miguel de Cervantes
Recommended by: Ian Bloomer / Multimedia Specialist
Reason: “Because it was so beautifully written, with great characters and very funny.”
Bio: Don Quixote has become so entranced by reading chivalric romances that he determines to become a knight-errant himself. In the company of his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, his exploits blossom in all sorts of wonderful ways. While Quixote’s fancy often leads him astray—he tilts at windmills, imagining them to be giants—Sancho acquires cunning and a certain sagacity. Sane madman and wise fool, they roam the world together, and together they have haunted readers’ imaginations for nearly four hundred years.
The Innocents Abroad By Mark Twain
Recommended by: Sibylle Eibl / Senior Director – Global Solutions Architecture
Reason: “Offers a wonderful vantage point on traveling in the Old World. I love Mark Twain’s humour, wit, and language. Mark Twain’s observation in the closing pages is as valid today as it was 150 years ago.”
Bio: The Innocents Abroad, or The New Pilgrims’ Progress is a travel book by American author Mark Twain published in 1869 which humorously chronicles what Twain called his “Great Pleasure Excursion” on board the chartered vessel Quaker City (formerly USS Quaker City) through Europe and the Holy Land with a group of American travelers in 1867. It was the best-selling of Twain’s works during his lifetime, as well as one of the best-selling travel books of all time.
The Count of Monte Cristo By Alexandre Dumas
Recommended by: Simon Annecchini / Director – Solutions Architecture
Reason: “It’s a book that made me question how I approach my life. Even though the first layer of interpretation is a revenge story, it depicts how negative and destructive outside elements can transform a kind, caring, and contempt person into a vengeful individual, fueled by hatred, that only realizes he’s lost his humanity once it’s too late. Readers will find themselves in a story that makes them reflect upon the (sometimes unmendable) consequences of their actions and question their life goals and motivations.”
Bio: Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantes is confined to the grim fortress of If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and he becomes determined not only to escape, but also to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration. Dumas’ epic tale of suffering and retribution, inspired by a real-life case of wrongful imprisonment, was a huge popular success when it was first serialized in the 1840s.
The Chronicles of Narnia By C. S. Lewis
Recommended by: Teresa Lawless / Director of Sales
Reason: “The reason I love these books is that I read them when I was a child and loved them. My husband bought me a lovely set of them as a present in London many years ago when we started going out together and I have carried them with me since. I read them to my oldest son when he was younger and now I am in the process of reading them to my youngest son. Conor can read himself but it’s the experience of the time together and the excitement of where we are in the books – good vs evil, talking animals, magic – they have everything and can be funny and sometimes a little scary. While the books gave me great joy as a child it’s even better to experience these great stories with my own children now as well. “
Bio: Journeys to the end of the world, fantastic creatures, and epic battles between good and evil—what more could any reader ask for in one book? The book that has it all is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, written in 1949 by Clive Staples Lewis. But Lewis did not stop there. Six more books followed, and together they became known as The Chronicles of Narnia.
The Alchemist By Paulo Coelho
Recommended by: María Jesús de Arriba Díaz / Strategic Accounts Director
Reason: “Santiago’s journey of discovery, of the world and oneself, and the importance of pursuing our own dreams resonated with my own journey, and inspired me to continue on my own journey.”
Bio: This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and soul-stirring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago, who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried near the Pyramids.
Along the way he meets a Romany woman, a man who calls himself a king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the right direction for his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or whether Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles in his path; but what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of treasure within.
A Man Called Ove By Fredrik Backman
Recommended by: Aoife Murphy / Director, Business Development & Revenue Marketing
Reason: “the story of a cranky, Saab-loving widower who is very set in his ways, until the new neighbours arrive. I love this book because it’s about unlikely friendships and kindness, and is it both poignant and hilarious – I have a penchant for the dry Scandinavian sense of humour”
Bio: A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.
Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?
Lord of the Flies By William Golding
Recommended by: Suzanne Marie Frank / VP Global Sales Enablement
Reason: “Interesting take on the human condition that is so simple yet so accurate”
Bio: At the dawn of the next world war, a plane crashes on an uncharted island, stranding a group of schoolboys. At first, with no adult supervision, their freedom is something to celebrate; this far from civilization the boys can do anything they want. Anything. They attempt to forge their own society, failing, however, in the face of terror, sin and evil. And as order collapses, as strange howls echo in the night, as terror begins its reign, the hope of adventure seems as far from reality as the hope of being rescued.
Flights By Olga Tokarczuk
Recommended by: Dominika D’Agostino / Strategic Accounts Director
Reason: “This intricate novel would appeal to an avid traveler. It interweaves themes of curiosity with an unappeasable need to move. Beautifully translated into English by Jennifer Croft.”
Bio: Flights interweaves reflections on travel with an in-depth exploration of the human body, broaching life, death, motion, and migration. Chopin’s heart is carried back to Warsaw in secret by his adoring sister. A woman must return to her native Poland in order to poison her terminally ill high school sweetheart, and a young man slowly descends into madness when his wife and child mysteriously vanish during a vacation and just as suddenly reappear.
The Warlock of Firetop Mountain By Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson
Recommended by: Jordan Knights / Technical Marketing Executive
Reason: “For it’s time it revolutionised how books could be read, bringing the modern term of gamification into book reading and helped pave the way for the rise of the RPG genre.”
Bio: FIGHTING FANTASY is the brilliant series of adventure gamebooks in which YOU are the hero! Decide which monsters to fight, which paths to take, who to trust and when to run. Can you survive the clutches of the hideous Bloodbeast, or defeat a noxious inhuman Orc? Deep in the caverns beneath Firetop Mountain lies an untold wealth of treasure, guarded by a powerful Warlock -or so the rumor goes. Several adventurers like yourself have set off for Firetop Mountain in search of the Warlock’s hoard. None has ever returned. Do you dare follow them?
The Midnight Library By Matt Haig
Recommended by: Gregory Twohig / Marketing Solutions Manager
Reason: “I love this book because it speaks to common human experiences – regret, loss, sadness, happiness, hope, and empowerment – in a really unique way. It is a massively uplifting and eye-opening book that’s guaranteed to make you look at your own life differently!”
Bio: Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?
Pride and Prejudice By Jane Austen
Recommended by: Elaine Wallace / HR Assistant
Reason: “200 years after it was written Pride and Prejudice could be set in this day and age as nothing much has changed. The themes of social distinction, integrity and honour, family, judgement of others, societal pressures, and what people will do for love are still very much alive in todays’ society. Ultimately though for me it is a classic love story where love conquers all and who doesn’t love a happy ending!”
Bio: Since its immediate success in 1813, Pride and Prejudice has remained one of the most popular novels in the English language. Jane Austen called this brilliant work “her own darling child” and its vivacious heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, “as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print.” The romantic clash between the opinionated Elizabeth and her proud beau, Mr. Darcy, is a splendid performance of civilized sparring. And Jane Austen’s radiant wit sparkles as her characters dance a delicate quadrille of flirtation and intrigue, making this book the most superb comedy of manners of Regency England.
A Year In Provence By Peter Mayle
Recommended by: Melania Moldovan / HR Assistant
Reason: “It’s my favourite mostly because it’s a travel/memoir book.”
Bio: In this witty and warm-hearted account, Peter Mayle tells what it is like to realize a long-cherished dream and actually move into a 200-year-old stone farmhouse in the remote country of the Lubéron with his wife and two large dogs. He endures January’s frosty mistral as it comes howling down the Rhône Valley, discovers the secrets of goat racing through the middle of town, and delights in the glorious regional cuisine. A Year in Provence transports us into all the earthy pleasures of Provençal life and lets us live vicariously at a tempo governed by seasons, not by days.