The Insider

My Top 10 Books To Read During Covid-19 Self Isolation

James Baldry


1. Fall of Giants


If like me you typically only read non-fiction books then Ken Follet may be your gateway into fiction as he was for me. Follet weaves his epic novels amongst incredibly well researched history and as this one takes the reader through the WW1 era and is a great reality check for us now as we go through our Covid-19 self-isolation. These young lads, many still in their teens, were being sent into no-man’s land to be mowed down by machine gun fire. All we're being us to do lads is to do to save lives during this pandemic is sit inside and watch Netflix (or read this book). I’m actually only half way through this right now but I just had to put it in my list as I can barely put it down and I was totally enthralled by one of Ken Follet’s other masterpieces, The Pillars of Earth, which I’ll get to later in this list. This book is gripping and a real page-turner with historical events imagined through the characters you fall in love with.

(Before jumping into this, I highly recommend the free short series on Audible, ‘Countdown to War’, which will give you a quick and entertaining overview as to how WWI started)


2. McMafia


An insightful account of how the underworld of organised crime was founded and became what it is today with plenty of references to the UAE which will give you an alternative view of our home. Before picking up this book I highly recommend the free Audible short series, ‘Putin: Prisoner of Power’ as it’ll give you a quick overview of one of the major players of the underworld, Russia.


3. The Death Of Money


If you have the bitcoin bug then I think you’ll like this book because it outlines, in the author’s opinion, why and how fiat currencies will collapse. Although the author doesn’t reference cryptocurrencies, a lot of what he attributes to fixed assets like gold, could apply to bitcoin, if you choose to believe so. I think this book is especially relevant right now as Governments turn on the printing presses and promise infinite QE. You don’t have to be ‘into money’ or an economist to enjoy this book. The storytelling is captivating and the content thought provoking. If you’re worried about losing wealth in what looks like a certain recession, then now might be the time to pick up this book.


4. Rich Dad Poor Dad


This book is great for helping you re-evaluate your finances and understanding the foundations of your income and how this will affect the life you live. The author will give entertaining stories of why you should be building your asset column and not your liabilities. It takes you through the pro’s and con’s of the four quadrants in which to earn an income, Employee, Self-Employed, Business Owner and Investor. The moral of the story is to get yourself over to the Business Owner and Investor quadrants where money works for you, instead of you working for money.


5. Can’t Hurt Me


I listened to the audio book of this and loved the structure it had of breaking out into a mini podcast with the author and narrator at the end of each chapter. The book is the biography of a Navy Seal cum ultra distance runner who by all accounts is just nuts. The book made me want to feel a small dose of the pain he describes in ultra so had me go out run a half marathon after two 5k warm-up runs. I’d be surprised if anyone wasn’t inspired to get out and go running after this book.


6. Born To Run


Runner or not, this is a great book that all will enjoy. It begins with a simple question by Christoper McDoughall, ‘Why does my foot hurt?’. In search of the answer Christopher discovers a tribe of the world’s greatest distance runners and learns that they run barefoot. Having jumped on the Vibram 5 Fingers barefoot shoes some years ago, this book had me dust them off and I’ve been running in barefoot shoes ever since. I also found this book to be a great insight into the wacky world of ultra and has planted a seed in my own aspirations to explore longer distances.


7. Extreme Ownership


We all know to take ownership of the responsibilities under our remit but this book makes you realise that you should be taking ownership of so much more than you initially thought. Each leadership lesson is brought to life with real life examples from the author’s time spent as a leader in the Navy Seals.


8. Band of Brothers


This book is amazing to read outright on it’s own but here’s what I recommend to make it even better. Read a chapter, and then watch that chapter as an episode from the highly acclaimed HBO series bearing the same name. My favourite series of all-time and in my top three favourite books!


9. Shoe Dog


It can be hard to relate to a mega global enterprise like Nike but this book humanises their early, humble and inspiring beginnings told through the memoir of their founder, Phil Knight. I liked this book as I found it relatable in that at Nike’s core, were a close-knit group of like-minded friends going through the highs and struggles of trying to build a business and ultimately enjoying the journey. This is a great book for anyone living their own start-up story  looking for a bit of comfort that even Nike had more than its fair share of struggles.


10. The Pillars Of Earth


This is my all-time favourite book, maybe even my all-time favourite piece of content. Like I say above, I’ve never been into fiction but this book turned me. I think it helps that the novel is embedded in well researched history with characters that help you imagine being in that time. The book has you feel every emotion and weaves all the storylines in together with page-turning suspense. I couldn’t put it down and 900 pages simply wasn’t enough! Take a break from non-fiction business books and autobiographies and let this book fast-forward you through this self-isolation.


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