In celebration of World Book Day, Thursday 7th March, the ITN Business team share their most loved and memorable reads. 

As human beings, we love stories and storytelling. Books, whether works of fiction or non-fiction, invite us into unique worlds, take us on journeys of discovery and imagination, and offer us insight, adventure, and connection.

To mark World Book Day 2024, we wanted to celebrate the profound impact that books have on our lives; inspiring us, challenging us, and enriching our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

From eye-opening biographies and moving memoirs, to childhood classics and historical novels, these are the books that have made us laugh, cry, question our views, reshape our values, and ultimately change the way we see the world…

 

THE BOOKS THAT MADE US CRY  

Wild by Cheryl Strayed  Danielle Tomkins, Marketing Manager

‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed

Wild is the story of a woman in the wake of her mother’s rapid death from cancer. Riddled with grief and with nothing to lose she literally walks through her grief (eleven-hundred miles of the west coast of America) in an attempt to piece a life back together that lay shattered at her feet. Her journey is one of absolute strength, resilience and ultimately healing.

Having been on a journey of losing my own mother for 5 years (and counting) to dementia, I would recommend this book as a tough but necessary read for anyone struggling with loss.”

The Giving Tree, a children’s book by Shel Silverstein — Shannon Fairchild, Senior Producer

This American children’s picture book was written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein and first published in 1964. It tells the story of a young boy who develops a close friendship with a tree and the ways in which their relationship evolves over the course of their lives.

‘The Giving Tree’, a beloved children’s book written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein.

A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness — Francesca Mirabile, Programme Researcher

A Monster Calls is a fantasy novel written by Patrick Ness, from an original idea by Siobhan Dowd. Set in present-day England, it features a boy who struggles to cope with the consequences of his mother’s illness. He is repeatedly visited in the night by a monster who tells stories. Dowd was terminally ill with cancer when she came up with the idea for the story, and died before she could write it.

‘A Monster Calls’ by Patrick Ness

If This is a Man, by Primo Levi — Jamie Connolly, Programming Director

Primo Levi

If This Is a Man is a memoir by Jewish Italian writer Primo Levi, first published in 1947. The book recounts Levi’s experiences as a prisoner in the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II.

In the memoir, Levi describes the horrors of daily life in the camp, the dehumanizing conditions endured by prisoners, and reflects on the loss of dignity, identity, and humanity, as well as the struggle to maintain hope and preserve a sense of self in the face of unimaginable suffering.

The Hours by Michael Cunningham — Rachel Peters, Assistant Producer

The Hours is a 1998 novel by Michael Cunningham, and a tribute to Virginia Woolf’s 1923 work Mrs. Dalloway. The nonlinear narrative unfolds primarily through the perspectives of three women across three different decades, with each woman somehow impacted by the classic novel Mrs. Dalloway.

“The picture is painted so vividly of three women’s lives, and the struggles of living in different places and different times. It has stayed with me for a long time.”

‘The Hours’ explores themes of identity, love, sacrifice, and the search for meaning in life.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera — James Salver, Programming Director

The Unbearable Lightness of Being is a philosophical novel by Milan Kundera, published in 1984. Set primarily in Prague during the Prague Spring of 1968 and its aftermath, the novel explores themes of love, politics, fate, and the search for meaning in life.

‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’ explores questions about love, loyalty, and the nature of existence.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara Zoe Smith, Website Editor 

“This 2015 novel by American writer Hanya Yanagihara follows the lives and relationships of four friends; Jude, Willem, Malcolm and JB, and explores tough themes, including sexual trauma and self-harm. It’s one of the most moving and harrowing books I’ve ever read, but an extraordinary story and utterly captivating.”

‘A Little Life’ by Hanya Yanagihara

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled HosseiniTaiba Omar, Programme Researcher

A Thousand Splendid Suns is a 2007 novel by Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini, who wrote the hugely successful The Kite Runner. The story follows Mariam, an illegitimate teenager from Herat, who is forced to marry a shoemaker from Kabul after a family tragedy.

“This book is so phenomenally written; it highlights the journey of two unique women with such incredible depth. From beginning to end, the book is nothing less than an immersive and emotive experience, filled with gems to carry throughout life. A must read!”

All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover – Megan Austin, Digital Marketing Assistant

All Your Perfects is a romantic novel that follows the lives of Quinn and Graham, a married couple whose relationship is put to the test by infertility.

THE BOOKS THAT MADE US LAUGH

Capital by John Lancaster — Humza Chaudhry, Head of Strategic Partnerships

‘Capital’ by John Lanchester

“This book is about the lives of Londoners from all different walks of life living on the same street. As a Londoner myself, the comedy that ensues from the overlapping of these very different lifestyles, all on the same tiny street, really resonated as being true to life!”

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams — Francesca Mirabile

This science fiction comedy series originated as a radio comedy broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1978, and later expanded into a series of novels, a television series, stage shows, comic books, and video games.

The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger — Zoe Smith

“I love the dry wit of Holden Caulfield, the main character in Catcher in the Rye. It’s one of my favourite books for its narrative voice and amazing characterisation. 

I also remember laughing a lot reading Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding when it first came out. Another great character!”

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby —  James Salver

The story follows the life of Rob Fleming, a record store owner in London who is obsessed with music and struggles with romantic relationships.

“Any book by Bill Bryson” — Shannon Fairchild

American-British author Bill Bryson has sold over 16 million books worldwide.

THE BOOKS THAT CHANGED OUR VIEWS  

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende — changed Francesca Mirabile’s view on family bonds and family history. 

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende is probably my favourite book ever. It made me think about the duplicity of family bonds and how this can be expressed through love and hate simultaneously, and through the years and lives of an entire generation.”

‘The House of the Spirits’ by Isabel Allende

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver — changed Shannon Fairchild’s view on the opioid epidemic.

Demon Copperhead is an epic tale of love, loss and everything in between. It’s a once-in-a-generation novel that begins with the central character’s traumatic birth to a single mother in a single-wide trailer.

Factfulness by Hans Rosling — changed Zoe Smith’s view on statistics

‘Factfulness’ by Hans Rosling

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think is a 2018 book by Swedish physician, professor and statistician Hans Rosling, written with his son Ola Rosling and daughter-in-law Anna Rosling Rönnlund, which they published a year after he died of pancreatic cancer.

In the book, Rosling suggests that the majority of people are wrong about the state of the world, and demonstrates how the world is healthier, wealthier, and less dangerous than it’s generally thought to be, attributing this to misinformation.

A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle — changed Danielle Tomkins’ view on life.

Building upon the principles introduced in his earlier book, The Power of Now, Tolle explores themes of consciousness, ego, and awakening, offering readers insights and practices for living a more fulfilling and enlightened life.

The Ramayana (in Sanskrit) — changed Ankita Tawar’s view on patience

Ramayana, also known as Valmiki Ramayana, is a Sanskrit epic from ancient India, one of the two important epics of Hinduism known as the Itihasas, the other being the Mahabharata. The epic narrates the life of Rama, a prince of Ayodhya in the kingdom of Kosala. 

 

THE BOOKS WE READ IN CHILDHOOD THAT HAVE NEVER LEFT US

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift — Jamie Connolly

‘Gulliver’s Travels’ by Jonathan Swift

Gulliver’s Travels is a satirical novel first published in 1726. The story follows Lemuel Gulliver who embarks on a series of fantastical journeys to remote and extraordinary lands where be encounters bizarre civilizations and peculiar creatures, including tiny Lilliputians and the giant Brobdingnagians.

The Door to Time by Pierdomenico Baccalario — Francesca Mirabile

The Door to Time is the first book in the Ulysses Moore series written by Pierdomenico Baccalario. The story follows three children who move into a mysterious house on the coast of Maine where they discover a hidden library with a secret door leading to a parallel world.

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder — Shannon Fairchild

The Little House series is based on Wilder’s own childhood experiences growing up on the American frontier in the late 19th century. The story follows the Ingalls family as they leave their home in the Big Woods of Wisconsin to start a new life on the open prairie of Kansas.

“I was so obsessed with the entire series of Little House on the Prairie books — unfortunately they even influenced my fashion choices for a while.”

George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl and Harry Potter by JK Rowling — James Salver

George’s Marvellous Medicine was first published in 1981. The story follows a young boy named George Kranky, who concocts a magical potion to cure his cantankerous and demanding grandmother, Grandma Kranky.

Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books and Watership Down by Richard Adams —  Zoe Smith

“I couldn’t get enough of The Famous Five. I just remember their adventures filling me with excitement. I always used to read them on long car journeys on holiday, and then I’d want to go off exploring to look for hidden treasure, and create my own little adventures.”

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen — Ankita Tawar

The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton and Rainbow Magic Colour Fairies Collection by Daisy Meadows — Megan Austin, Digital Marketing Assistant

“Anything by Roald Dahl; I have lovely memories of reading these books to my mum when I was younger.” – Sarah Collins

“I loved reading the Alfie books by Shirley Hughes to my children!” – Dawn White, Senior Producer

 

OUR MOST INSPIRING BUSINESS OR PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT BOOKS 

You’re Not Listening by Kate Murphy – Shannon Fairchild

In this non-fiction book, Murphy explores the art and importance of listening in today’s increasingly distracted and fragmented world. Drawing on research from psychology, neuroscience, sociology, and her own experiences as a journalist, Murphy investigates the consequences of our collective failure to listen attentively and empathetically to one another.

“This book transforms the way we relate to people, professionally and personally.”

‘You’re Not Listening’ by Kate Murphy

The Imagination Muscle by Albert Read – Ankita Tawar

The Imagination Muscle is a self-help book written by Albert Read, aiming to guide readers on a journey to unlock and strengthen their imagination. The book explores the concept of imagination as a muscle that can be exercised and developed, much like physical muscles.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankle – Sarah Collins

Man’s Search for Meaning is an influential book written by Viktor Frankl, first published in 1946. Frankl, a Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist, reflects on his experiences in Nazi concentration camps and explores the fundamental question of human existence: What gives life meaning?

Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman – Zoe Smith

The title of this book refers to the approximate number of weeks in the average human lifespan — around eighty years — which Burkeman uses as a framing device to encourage readers to reflect on the finite nature of time and the importance of making intentional choices about how to spend it.

OUR MOST INSPIRING BIOGRAPHIES / MEMOIRS

“The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and also The River of Doubt about Teddy Roosevelt.” – Shannon Fairchild

Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama – Ankita Tawar

Barack Obama’s memoir, first published in 1995, provides a deeply personal account of Obama’s early life, his upbringing, and his journey of self-discovery as he grapples with issues of identity, race, and belonging.

I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai, and Butterfly by Yusra Mardini – Sarah Collins

‘Butterfly’ by Yusra Mardini is a compelling memoir that recounts the incredible journey of a Syrian refugee turned Olympic athlete.

I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban is an autobiographical book by Malala Yousafzai, co-written with Christina Lamb. The book chronicles Malala’s childhood growing up in Pakistan, her family background, and her early activism for girls’ education, which brought her to the attention of the Taliban.

In 2012, Malala was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman while traveling home from school, but she survived the attack and went on to become a global symbol of courage, resilience, and the fight for education rights.

THE NON-FICTION BOOK WE ALWAYS RECOMMEND TO FRIENDS 

Atomic Habits by James Clear – Jamie Connolly

The central premise of Atomic Habits is that small, incremental changes in behaviour can lead to significant improvements over time. Clear introduces the concept of “atomic habits,” which are tiny, consistent actions that compound over time to produce remarkable results.

Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden  – James Salver 

“Camp 14 is an inspiring story of human resilience and determination in the face of adversity. It also offers an important insight into the oppressive regime of North Korea and educates about the realities of life in the country.”

Buddhism for Busy People by David Michie. Or, The Whole Brained Child by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson – Zoe Smith

Buddhism for Busy People was one of those game-changing books for me. It explores the key concepts of Buddhism, such as compassion, mindfulness, karma, and the pursuit of inner peace, and presents them in a way that is accessible to all kinds of readers. The approaches explored in this book have stayed with me my whole life.”

The Whole Brain Child is a parenting book that offers practical tools and techniques for responding effectively to children’s emotions and behaviours, using relatable examples and real-life scenarios.

The Whole Brain Child gives fascinating insight into the development of our brains throughout infancy and is an absolute must-read for any parent of young children.”

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson – Ankita Tawar

In this refreshing, no-nonsense book, Manson argues that the key to happiness and fulfillment is not to avoid problems or seek constant positivity, but rather to embrace the inevitable struggles and uncertainties of life.

THE BOOKS WE’RE CURRENTLY READING

I Will Find You, Harlan Coben – James Salver

I Will Find You is a gripping thriller novel that follows the story of Simon Greene, a successful attorney whose life is turned upside down when his wife, Ingrid, goes missing under mysterious circumstances.

La Vendetta delle Muse by Serena Dandini Francesca Mirabile

La Vendetta delle Muse is a satirical novel offering a humorous and insightful exploration of contemporary Italian society, politics, and culture through the lens of the protagonist, Irene, a successful and independent woman navigating the challenges of modern life.

Signs of Life by Stephen Fabes – Jamie Connolly

“I chose to read Signs of Life as I’ve always been intrigued and drawn to travel literature after doing my dissertation on travel writing and post colonialism. Great travel writing can provide so much inspiration, escapism and introduce the reader to new places, identities and cultures. I love the feeling of being transported to the locations referenced and living the adventure the author has experienced.” 

All We Can Save – Truth, Courage and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson & Katherine K. Wilkinson – Zoe Smith

All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis is an anthology edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson, published in 2020. The book features a collection of essays, poems, and artwork from women leading the way in the climate movement.

This Arab is Queer by Elias Jahsan – Humza Chaudhry

This Arab Queen

“I picked up the This Arab is Queer book because it had a short story contribution in there from Saleem Haddad, author of Guapa, one of my other favourite books!”

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez – Rachel Peters.

“This is two of my close people’s favourite book, but currently my literary Everest. It is brilliant, but I am not finding it the easiest to jump into during small pockets of downtime. I have been reading it for about the past year and read a number of other books alongside it – which is currently Educated by Tara Westover.

Gombrich’s A Little History of the World, given to me by my colleague AhuShannon Fairchild

A Little History of the World is a charming book written by Ernst Gombrich, first published in 1935. It was originally intended as a history book for children, but has since become a beloved classic for readers of all ages.

Letters to Yves by Pierre Bergé – Ankita Tawar

Letters to Yves is a poignant collection of correspondence written by Pierre Bergé, the longtime partner of renowned fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. Published posthumously in 2018, the book offers readers a deeply personal and intimate glimpse into the relationship between Bergé and Saint Laurent, spanning over five decades.

Ankita Tawar, ITN Business’ Production Assistant.

The Way of Integrity by Martha Beck  – Danielle Tomkins

The Way of Integrity by Martha Beck

Drawing on her extensive experience as a life coach, author, and speaker, Martha Beck offers readers a guide to living a life aligned with their deepest values, desires, and truths, in this transformative self-development book.

Beck explores the concept of integrity as more than just honesty or morality, but as a state of alignment between one’s inner self and outer actions. She argues that true fulfillment and happiness come from living authentically and in harmony with one’s core beliefs and desires, rather than conforming to societal expectations or external pressures.

“This is a life-changing read that is packed with ‘aha’ moments and practical exercises.  I’m on a life long journey of self-discovery and this book is a roadmap to living a true and authentic life.”