We asked our regulars at Swindon Business Village for recommendations of good summer reads, both business books and fiction.

Here’s what they came up with:


They say that travel broadens the mind. Well so does travel writing

I Dreamed Of Africa, by Kuki Gallmann

A true tale of her life from a young girl in Italy to falling in love with an African ranger, moving to Kenya and her stunning life there. Her life has had lots of highs and some very deep lows and she tells it all honestly and passionately in the book. She still lives there on the same ranch in Kenya running The Gallmann Memorial Foundation. It’s well worth the read and I guarantee once started you won’t want to put it down.

Kevin Griffiths, Customer Service Representative, Regus Express, Leigh Delamere


Hunting Mr Heartbreak, by Jonathan Raban


“Having arrived in Liverpool, I took ship for the New World”  Raban followed in the footsteps of Hector St John de Crevecoeur – the Mr Heartbreak – and several million other emigrants to discover America and the immigrant experience afresh. One of the reviews observed that Raban notices things that the rest of us miss. And he does.  His section on New York, the Macy’s parade and Ralph Lauren, made a big impression on me. Read this book and you’ll never look at these in the same way again.  And if you’ve ever bought Ralph Lauren goods you won’t do it again!

Angela Atkinson, AA editorial services and Born Again Swindonian blogger


What making running shoes tells you about running a business

Shoe Dog: A memoir by the creator of Nike, by Phil Knight

Like them or loath them, Nike are undeniably one of the biggest global brands. This book offers a great insight into how that company was built, with some really strong dos and don’ts for business owners – albeit told via a story rather than direct business advice. I found it fascinating to learn the risks taken to get Nike to where it is today and overall thought it was a thoroughly interesting read.

Joe Stallard, Lodestar Digital Marketing


Our will writer wants us to think about the inevitable…

Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande

No one talks about death enough and, more to the point, about quality of life and end of life care.  Gawande is a surgeon in the US who goes beyond the physical aspects of prolonging life and asks patients to think about what constitutes a life worth living.  This is a great read, and not as morbid as it sounds because it focuses the mind on what we consider to be really valuable about our lives.  From a business perspective, I often have to discuss end of life care with my clients so this was insightful and, quite frankly, a breath of fresh air.


…whilst seeing the funny side of life as a woman

How to be a woman, by Caitlin Moran

Not just for the feminists (although she explains why we actually all are, whether we think it or not!) This book had me in tears of laughter and is a highly amusing and intelligent story of Caitlin’s life. I think every woman (and man) can relate to something in the book about the angst of growing up and it’s one of those books that I will encourage my children to read when they are old enough to appreciate it.  It’s easy reading so a great one to take off on your summer holiday.

Reshma Field, Ishbel’s Wardrobe and Swindon Will Writing.


See your business, your species and your purpose from a different perspective


Maverick, by Ricardo Semler

Sub-titled The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Workplace, Ricardo Semler details how he turned the traditional way of running his family company on its head and handed over decision making and full autonomy to his employees, allowing them to set salaries, bonuses, productivity targets and working conditions. Going against all norms for running a business Ricardo soon had the likes of Coca Cola knocking down his door to learn from his unique approach to business which turned a firm on the brink of bankruptcy into a highly profitable company.


Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari

Harari surveys the history of humankind from the evolution of archaic human species in the Stone Age up to the twenty-first century, focusing on our own species of human, Homo Sapiens. Harari’s main argument is that Sapien came to dominate the world because it is the only animal that could cooperate flexibly in large numbers. He argues that prehistoric Sapiens were a key cause of the extinction of other human species such as the Neanderthals, along with numerous other megafauna. He further argues that the ability of Sapiens to cooperate in large numbers arises from their unique ability to believe in things existing purely in the imagination, such as gods, nations, money and human rights.


Neil Grant, MD, SMP Ltd


Start with Why, by Simon Sinek

 Simon Sinek talks about why people do what they do in all aspects of our day to day life and the need that all of us have to be inspired. I also love him because one of his philosophies is that “people need people” and  he argues against a world where all connection with others is through our social and work media outlets.

Tracy Madgwick, Crafnant Consulting – HR solutions for your business


When it all gets too much, a few wise words for kids of all ages


Oh, the places you’ll go! by Dr Seuss

The best self-help book every written, in my view.  Dr Seuss does a wonderful job of summarising the highs and lows of life’s journey.  If Dr Seuss says I can do it, who am I to argue?

“Be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray

Or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,

You’re off to great Great Places!

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting

So…get on your way!” 

It might just get you through a long flight with the kids!

Shirley Hensher, coach, The Change Agent Ltd



Our personal trainer gets microbial about our health…


Follow Your Gut (the enormous impact of tiny microbes), Rob Night (with Brendan Buhler)

This is a small book based on a TED talk and explains exactly what all those good bacteria are doing in your gut all day and how we couldn’t survive without them. They control our immune system and have a major affect on our brain (mood, behaviour, depression, autism and appetite to name but a few).  If I moved to a career in medical research, it would be on the gut-brain axis as there is so much we still do not understand.  This book will help you understand your gut better and what you can do to look after it.

…but can’t beat a classic when he makes a rare detour into fiction

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, Harper Lee

For my 40th, I asked friends and family to buy me the one book they thought I should read.  Both my sister and my sister-in-law bought me ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and whilst I had seen clips of the film, I’d never seen it in full.  I am not a great fiction reader, but I couldn’t put this down. You can read it on many levels (politics, race, innocence of childhood), but I’ve chosen this book as I found the descriptions of the people and the places they went about their lives in so perfectly described, it was as if I was there watching the story first hand.

Ian Locke, Personal Trainer & Nutritional Advisor, Thrive Personal Training Limited


Trust a wordsmith to recommend a master of the art…

 Lost for Word’, by John Humphrys

A brilliant journalist, interviewer and – to my delight – grammar pedant.  This book shows him at his most amusing, articulate and waspish on the topic of English and its abuse. … and an engaging storyteller


House of Stairs, by Barbara Vine

I like a good mystery, and this would be an excellent one for holiday reading.

Jo Smyth, Word Worker, PR & Copywriting


Now we know how our web master got so remarkable…

Purple Cow, by Seth Godin

I read it a few years ago now but certain parts of it really still resonate with me. It’s a short book on how to transform your business by being remarkable!

‘The Shadow of the wind’ by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

A dark and intriguing story set during the post-war period in Spain. It was quite unlike any other book that I would have chosen at the time (probably 7-8 years ago).

Martin Jarvis, DMJ Computer Services


The girl on the train, by Paula Hawkins

The power of vulnerability, by Brene Brown

Claire Dore, Mindset and Wellness Coach


Finally, something to keep you up at night or rolling up your beach towel and heading for the hills? 

War with Russia, by General Sir Richard Shirreff (Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe. Retired)

Although it is listed as a fictional account of where we are heading if we fail to recognise that the Russian President means business, it is quite possible that this book foretells what will actually happen, i.e rapidly turns into a non-fiction record! As it says on the back cover” A must  read… Sherriff’s warnings – veiled as fiction – ring with authenticity, rich in technical details and insight” General Wesley K. Clark, US Army, former Supreme Allied Commander Europe..

 Hew Helps, IT Solutions