This past year has carried on from what has been a period of monumental change. From the way we work to how we socially interact…Books have been an anchor for many as a way to strengthen their skills, shift their mindset or escape reality entirely.

Morningstar staff read widely throughout the year and recommend a mix of books for summer reading covering leadership, politics, economics, investing and psychology.

Women and Leadership: Real Lives, Real Stories
By Julia Gillard and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

Head of institutional portfolio management and solutions Jody Fitzgerald devoured this collection of interviews authored by Australia’s former prime minister Julia Gillard and Nigerian-American economist Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

The authors interview several prominent female leaders, including Hilary Clinton, Christine Lagarde Jacinda Arden and Theresa on their experience and outline what can be learned from female leaders.

“Each woman was asked the same set of questions and their responses examined to determine if their experiences were in line or different from what the research on gender studies would predict. The women talk about the barriers they face in both a human and analytical way. As a woman in a male-dominated industry, I found it very relatable,” Fitzgerald says.

“It is very well written and engaging. A great summer read.”

Julia Gillard

How to Lead: Wisdom from the World's Greatest CEOs, Founders, and Game Changers
By David Rubenstein

In a similar vein, Morningstar director, manager research ratings, Asia Pacific Annika Bradley found inspiration from The Carlyle Group co-founder’s compilation of conversations with some of the world’s most powerful leaders.

Among them are Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Warren Buffett and Oprah Winfrey, who share their personal philosophies and insights on decision making, innovation, change and crisis.

“The interviewees are incredibly inspiring and Rubenstein is a masterful interviewer. The common threads of hard work, focus, failure, persistence and humility are woven together through the life stories of some of the world’s most successful people. It is so entertaining and easy to listen to,” she says.

“I listen to the audiobook when jogging. I’d highly recommend this to anyone looking for a bit of inspiration leading into 2022.”

Warren Buffett

Engines That Move Markets: Technology Investing from Railroads to the Internet and Beyond
By Alasdair Nairn

Morningstar Asia data journalist Kate Lin enjoyed reading a comprehensive history of market-shaping industries and the impact they've had on how we invest today.

“A word we had heard, but perhaps had been overused: Irreversible. It’s been most recently used to describe trends like vehicle electrification, coal phase-out, digital currency and more. FOMO for the next big thing spreads quickly as investors want to get in early for the next big thing,” says Lin.

“Now is a good timing to mull it over – does irreversible mean forever?”

Nairn’s book studies the greatest technological inventions of the past two centuries such as electric light, railway and all the way through to the internet age and highlights their rise and fall in financial markets.


By Dr Carol Dweck

Director of equity research Brian Han, who covers telecommunications, media and leisure sectors suggests the Stanford University psychologist’s book on how to develop a mindset for success.

Dweck uncovers how different areas of human endeavour can be dramatically influenced by how we think about our talents and abilities.

“It is a seminal work on distinguishing a growth mindset from a fixed one, and an eye-opener on how the latter restricts learning, progress, and fulfilment,” Han says.

“That awareness and a willingness to entertain different viewpoints have the potential to improve all aspects of life be it investing, business-building or relationships, or so I’ve been told by my wife who constantly accuses me of being closed-minded about ballet and opera, while I accuse her of being the same about “investing” in football games and poker tournaments.”

Trade Wars Are Class Wars: How Rising Inequality Distorts the Global Economy and Threatens International Peace
By Matthew C. Klein and Michael Pettis

Trade Wars Are Class Wars is a must-read for anyone looking to understand the big economic and political events of the last decade (and beyond), says reporter and data journalist Lewis Jackson.

Klein and Pettis argue that governments cause trade conflicts to promote the needs of the rich to the detriment of the working class.

“Two centuries of debt crises, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Trump’s rise, and the ongoing US-China trade war are knitted into a narrative that argues trade imbalances between countries are often the result of inequality within them,” Jackson says.

“Inequality at home creates pools of wealth that surge across borders in waves that inflate bubbles and leave working people everywhere worse off. It’s a powerful message in an era where trade tensions are fomenting political conflict. The solution is not “buy America” or “made in China 2025” but fixing inequality at home.”

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster
By Bill Gates

Chief content strategist Sylvester Flood appreciates the Microsoft founder’s data-driven, pragmatic approach that he took to address questions of interest.

“While he likely didn’t coin the term, his “green premium” concept is one that I think about every time I learn about a new issue related to climate change, or a proposed solution to a problem. The book is intended to influence not so much policymakers—to whom Gates presumably has wide access—but average people.”

“Also, I tend to be in agreement with Gates that we shouldn’t give up on nuclear power despite its many known risks.”

After reading the book, Flood was inspired and found himself wondering whether he should replace his gas-fuelled home furnace with a heat pump and install a solar system.

“I haven’t pulled the trigger on the former but have done so on the latter. It turns out my big, flat, unobstructed roof will produce enough electricity to replace 95% of my annual consumption even though I live at 41 degrees north latitude, or about the same latitude as Tasmania.”

Buy Now, Pay Later: The extraordinary story of Afterpay
By Jonathan Shapiro James Eyers

Ahead of the Morningstar Investor Conference 2022, local editorial manager Emma Rapaport has Eyers' and Shapiro's 2021 book on her bedside table. The book recounts the dramatic behind-the-scenes story of the founding and rise of Australian buy now, pay later runaway success Afterpay – now valued at $39 billion after being snapped by global payments giant Square.

"I'd struggle to name another company which can equal the impact Afterpay has had on the Australian market and investors since I started writing for Morningstar," she says.

"The book has given me a great insight into the inner workings of the BNPL industry, the political and cultural environment which allowed this new industry to thrive, and the making of Australia's youngest self-made billionaire."

The authors are scheduled to present at the Morningstar conference in February next year.


Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty
By Patrick Radden Keefe

Rounding out the list, I highly recommend investigative journalist Radden Keefe’s study of the billionaire Sackler family who established Purdue Pharma, the manufacturers of opioid painkiller OxyContin.

Empire of Pain takes a closer look at the family responsible for initiating the opioid crisis in the US in the mid-1990s which Radden Keefe estimates has taken the lives of 500,000 Americans.

The Sacklers aggressively marketed Oxycontin as a non-addictive pain medication which was rushed through FDA approval. It led to doctors overprescribing the drug due to Purdue’s generous kickback scheme and later politicians and government officials endorsing it.

As the lawsuits began to flow in, the Sackler family assumed no responsibility for the side-effects of the medication and deployed their profits to create wings in their name at Harvard, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Oxford and the Louvre in an attempt to salvage the family name.

This fast-paced book reads like fiction with elements of bribery, corruption and capitalism.

Check out our previous reading lists for 2020/21, our list for 2019/20 and 2018