The Real Deal New York

What they're reading now

Real estate pros share picks for books on personal character, Holocaust survivors and Star Wars
By Angely Mercado | April 01, 2017 01:00AM

James Wacht
President, Lee & Associates NYC

What are you reading right now, or what did you finish most recently? “The Road to Character,” by New York Times columnist David Brooks.

What spurred you to read that book? A colleague recommended it, and given the tenor of this last presidential campaign, a book on character resonated with me. I’ve always been concerned about reputation, integrity and giving back. In this business, we tend to define ourselves by the deals or money we’ve made. This book reminds us that it’s what kind of person you are that matters most in the end.

Would you recommend it to others? Definitely. It’s reinforced a lot of what I’ve already believed in terms of how I live my life, but it helped me crystallize my thoughts. I now challenge all those who work in our organization to think about their actions and what they say about their character. To give you an example, back in the 1990s, I started looking at buying walk-up buildings in Chinatown and Little Italy. But at the end of the day, I didn’t have the heart to evict the hard-working immigrant families living in these buildings. I made a decision that I still live by — I wasn’t going to make my living by making other people’s lives a living hell.

Lisa Lippman
Licensed associate broker, Brown Harris Stevens

What are you reading right now? Susan Faludi’s “In the Darkroom.”

What spurred you to read that book? It’s a story about the daughter of a Holocaust survivor. A lot of my family perished in the Holocaust and I grew up with the Holocaust “in our house.” It has always been a big part of my identity and my personal history. My parents both fled Nazi Europe — my father from Belgium, my mother from France. Growing up in Connecticut, I felt like somewhat of an outsider because my parents were not born there … so stories about other people like me are always intriguing.

Has anything from the book stuck with you? Would you recommend it to others? Yes, absolutely. I think everyone can find something to relate to in this book. It’s about difficult family relations, which I can relate to. And trying to fit in — whether it’s as an immigrant, a child of immigrants or as a person living in the wrong body. Although the latter is not something I can personally relate to, I think it’s amazing that people can go through most of their life as one gender while always feeling like they are not really that gender. It’s an amazing story of soul-searching and adaptation.

Jeff Pandolfo
Director of leasing, SCG Retail

What are you reading? “The World According to Star Wars” by Cass Sunstein. 

What spurred you to read it? I was drawn to the originality of the book, which clearly appeals to the Star Wars fan. The author uses themes from the movies to make broader points about a variety of social and economic issues we face today. There’s also a fascinating exploration of the worldwide popularity of Star Wars and its origins. It is fun, intellectual, opinionated and a swift read.

Would you recommend it to others? Yes, for fans of the franchise and for anyone who appreciates the use of analogies to make points about our beliefs and the world we live in. A scholarly perspective on Star Wars sounds strange, but the book is interesting and amusing. It’s hard not to smile while you read this. The political analyses presented in the book are particularly fascinating, especially at a time of political unrest in our country.