Seven books on Resilience to read this summer.


As many are saying, 2020 has been a very long year and we’re only halfway through. Several countries around the world are still battling the virus, while others seem to be managing the emergency well now after months of lockdown. Certainly, these past few months have showed very clearly the importance of resilience to everyone, whether it be national, organizational or personal. Thus, as we venture into one of the strangest summers of the last few decades, we want to leave you with a few suggestions on what to read during your holiday break. Below is a list of seven books, ranging from business-oriented ones to others that are more on personal growth or simply fiction; however, they all share messages on resilience and preparedness in the face of uncertainty.

  • Antifragile – by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. This book follows up on Taleb’s famous “The Black Swan”, which introduced the author’s theory on highly unlikely yet catastrophic events. “Antfragility” builds on the idea of living in uncertainty, even claiming it is necessary to build stronger societies and organizations that not only benefit from the lack of order but actually need it to thrive. Taleb’s strong statements may or may not resonate with the reader, as they have sparked several international debates, but they will surely provoke a reaction.
  • The Power of Resilience: How the Best Companies Manage the Unexpected – Yossi Sheffi. This book leans more towards the academic side but it will definitely be of interest to professionals in the resilience field. Yossi Sheffi, Professor at MIT and a renowned name in the supply chain industry, presents a series of case studies and concepts in supply chain resilience that might prove very useful to practitioners in their daily job. Perhaps not the usual summer read but definitely a must for those in the field.
  • Factfulness – Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, et al. This book takes a counterintuitive approach to perceiving the world we live in, looking at official facts and figures to show that current societies substantially have a better life than those in the past and that there are signs of hope for the future. Even though this book is not specifically about resilience, it talks about the uncertainty around our societies and organizations, providing perspective. It is perhaps a read people need now more than ever.
  • The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings of Authenticity, Connections and Courage – Brenè Brown. In an effort to understand how individuals face vulnerability, the author of this book interviewed several people asking them how they perceive everyday uncertainty and how they cope with it. This read will strike the chord of personal resilience, dealing with the issue at a more intimate level and revealing its importance not only as a set of organizational processes but as a lifestyle and a life choice.
  • On Emotional Intelligence – Daniel Goleman. Being able to communicate and convey a message is a critical part of a business continuity or crisis management plan. One great way to improve the flow of information is to work on emotional intelligence, which is what this book talks about, through a selection of articles on the topic from the Harvard Business Review.
  • The Burning Shore – Wilbur Smith. For the final two suggestions of this list we move to fiction, which is always a good pick for a summer read. The Burning Shore is a powerful story of personal resilience about a woman who manages to survive during World War I, standing her ground in a men-dominated world. The story takes the reader from Europe all the way to Africa, showing the strong spirit of the main character while taking the reader on a journey. For those who can’t physically travel right now it could be a sound alternative.
  • The Three Body Problem – Liu Cixin. This final pick is flat out science fiction, narrating the story of how humanity would organize themselves in the face of an imminent global threat from outer space. The book is one of Barack Obama’s favourite science fiction novels and it promises to bring some powerful reflections on the extent to which societies are capable to come together during tough moments, which right now sounds painfully familiar.

We do hope you enjoy your summer and recharge for the winter season. Stay tuned!