Five enterprising Denizens share the book that changed their thinking and left a lasting impression

Reuben Bonner — Founder & Organiser, Wondergarden Festival
The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time is the ultimate mystery adventure written in such a simple, wondrous voice that it is hard not to feel endeared to Christopher John Francis Boone, the story’s protagonist. He is a 15-year-old amateur detective who is hell-bent on finding who in God’s name has speared his next door neighbour’s dog, Wellington, with a garden fork! This book serves as a poignant reminder of how different we all are as human beings, and how we should be patient and compassionate of those around us following a different path. Christopher — who has Asperger syndrome and is ensconced in his own reality — has just as an important quest to complete (finding Wellington’s killer), as we might with our daily lives getting the bills paid, the children fed, or replying to a list of unanswered emails. It’s easy reading, but very fulfilling and shrouded in mystery and intrigue, and is also peppered with some excellent humour.

Max Patte — Artist
I’ve read all sorts of books on art, artists and the art market but The $12 million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art is hands down my most dog-eared, underlined and loaned out book on the shelf. More than any college tutor or trip to a gallery, this book helped me really understand and appreciate what happens to a work once it leaves the studio; how the lasting success of that work is influenced and controlled; the role of the dealer, gallery and collector; who sets the value and what makes it rise. With tales from the auction house, mega dealers, private jets and inside trades, this is a fascinating and engaging look at the phenomenon of an unregulated, sometimes murky and constantly surprising art world. It’s the book I wish I’d read at school.

Paul Huege de Serville — Founder, Servilles
Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish was a book that definitely changed my perspective. After listening to the author (an entrepreneur and founder of the Young Entrepreneurs’ Organization) and reading his book it gave me a deeper understanding about culture, value systems and structures that help you get clear pathways to run a business. Before that, I used to operate mostly by instinct and past knowledge, so keeping that and adding his way gave me lots of clarity in our business.

Peter Cullinane — Founder, Lewis Road Creamery
I’m not a big fan of business texts, I much prefer learning by example. The stand-out book for me is Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. It’s not a lesson in how to be a kind spirit but it is the best insight into the singular attitude that created the world’s most successful company. Steve Jobs believed everything was important, from the biggest ideas to the smallest details. He was relentless in his pursuit of perfection. For him, business was personal. He created a business that reflected what he wanted, not what others might want. This biography is a riveting read.

Karen Walker — Founder, Karen Walker
When I was 12, I discovered Evelyn Waugh and devoured everything he wrote, but it was his satire, his scathing, sneering reflection upon the English sitting-room, that I especially loved. Through his lens, he questioned and ridiculed the establishment but also, somehow, despite the curled lip, showed his love for it. This was an embrace with a slap, a pinch, a shin-kick thrown in for good measure and that really appealed to me. He questioned automatic, given, expected respect. He challenged and poked fun at the establishment and I loved that. And don’t even get me started on Brideshead Revisited, which still makes me weep!


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