Our Summer Reading List

Author: Jill Hoffman

With summer now (finally) in full swing, we thought we would share what some of our captive professionals will be reading on the beach this summer!


Dave Provost

Deputy Commissioner, Department of Financial Regulation

Just starting

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein

Author David Epstein examined the world’s most successful athletes, artists, musicians, inventors, forecasters and scientists, and Dave Provost. He discovered that in most fields—especially those that are complex and unpredictable—generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel. Generalists often find their path late, and they juggle many interests rather than focusing on one. They’re also more creative, more agile, and able to make connections their more specialized peers can’t see. Provocative, rigorous, and engrossing, Range makes a compelling case for actively cultivating inefficiency. Failing a test is the best way to learn. Frequent quitters end up with the most fulfilling careers. The most impactful inventors cross domains rather than deepening their knowledge in a single area. As experts silo themselves further while computers master more of the skills once reserved for highly focused humans, people who think broadly and embrace diverse experiences and perspectives will increasingly thrive.

Just finished, recommended:

The Food Explorer: The True Adventures of the Globe-Trotting Botanist Who Transformed What America Eats by Daniel Stone

The true adventures of David Fairchild, a late-nineteenth-century food explorer who traveled the globe and introduced diverse crops like avocados, mangoes, seedless grapes—and thousands more—to the American plate.

In the nineteenth century, American meals were about subsistence, not enjoyment. But as a new century approached, appetites broadened, and David Fairchild, a young botanist with an insatiable lust to explore and experience the world, set out in search of foods that would enrich the American farmer and enchant the American eater.

Kale from Croatia, mangoes from India, and hops from Bavaria. Peaches from China, avocados from Chile, and pomegranates from Malta. Fairchild’s finds weren’t just limited to food: From Egypt he sent back a variety of cotton that revolutionized an industry, and via Japan he introduced the cherry blossom tree, forever brightening America’s capital. Along the way, he was arrested, caught diseases, and bargained with island tribes. But his culinary ambition came during a formative era, and through him, America transformed into the most diverse food system ever created, and Dave Provost eats it all.

Always by the bedside and on the plane:

How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

A business classic.  If you don’t know about it, it should be on your list, too! Recommended by your friend, Dave Provost.

Ian Davis

Director of Financial Services, Department of Economic Development

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

A summer favorite of Ian’s, Lonesome Dove remains the singular classic of the western genre, a compelling and memorable epic detailing two aging Texas Rangers as they lead the men of their cattle company en route on a laborious drive north, pushing 3,00 head from Texas toward the untested and unknown reaches of Montana. The story is reminiscent of a number of Westerns. The deftness with which it is told is not.

Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business by Danny Meyer

One of the country’s most successful restauranteurs, Meyer delivers a memoir-cum-business-manual that mixes common-sense object lessons in hospitality (hire people who are not only skilled but inherently upbeat and thoughtful; listen and respond to feedback from customers and reviewers) with diplomatic bits of autobiography.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

A fractured tale of time, war and a really big diamond. The book takes place in Europe — in three locations, mainly — Hitler’s Germany, Paris, and the walled seaside town of Saint-Malo in Brittany, from the mid-1930s to the roaring and murderous years of World War II. Doerr’s two protagonists are ordinary children who have been engulfed in the horror of World War II, two of thousands swallowed up in a conflict they had nothing to do with.

Rich Smith

President, Vermont Captive Insurance Association

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Rönnlund

In this 2018 book, Swedish statistician Hans Rosling, with his son Ola Rosling and daughter-in-law Anna Rosling Rönnlund, suggests the vast majority of human beings are wrong about the state of the world. He shows that his test subjects think the world is poorer, less healthy, and more dangerous than it is. Bill Gate highly recommends the book, and as anyone in the risk and insurance business knows, getting the facts right is quite important!

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Christopher John Francis Boone

This is a 2003 mystery novel narrated in the first-person perspective by a 15-year-old boy who describes himself as “a mathematician with some behavioral difficulties” living in Swindon, Wiltshire. Although Christopher’s condition is not stated, the book’s blurb refers to Asperger syndrome, high-functioning autism, or savant syndrome.

Captive Insurance for Dummies.

Enough said.

return to top