The Real Deal New York

What they're reading now

Real estate pros share their picks for books on the Underground Railroad, immigration and the psychology of getting rich
By Angely Mercado | September 01, 2017 11:00AM

Eugene Pinover
New York Real Estate Practice chair, DLA Piper

What are you reading right now, or what did you finish most recently? “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead.

What spurred you to read that book? It was billed as a different perspective on the Underground Railroad. Viewing the experience from the perspective of a fugitive slave was harrowing and humbling.

Has anything from the book stuck with you? I never realized that the trip on the Underground Railroad could take years — even up to a decade — and would become a way of life. In one part of the book, the main character comes to a community of escaping slaves where they have normal, safe and happy lives: There is a library where children are taught to read, plays are put on for entertainment, work goes on in the surrounding fields, and the animals are tended to in a communal fashion. All of this makes the whites in the surrounding area furious and, most of all, jealous. Ultimately the white anger boils over and they destroy the idealistic community.

Would you recommend it to others? Yes, I would highly recommend it, especially in these political times. It is a very interesting book about prejudice and its pervasiveness in America, but also about hope and the natural drive to establish a free life. 

Matt Lawrence
General counsel, Criterion Group

What are you reading right now? “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman, which just recently became a TV show on Starz.

Has anything from the book stuck with you? The book explores the idea of literal gods — which people have believed in over generations — immigrating to America with their followers, and being abandoned as the immigrants assimilate. It strikes a particular chord in this political climate, since most Americans are immigrants but many try to forget or ignore it. 

Would you recommend it to others? I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy, science fiction, history or theology. This book really has a little bit for everybody!

Jennifer Bocian
Director of business development, Ideal Properties Group

What are you reading right now? “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. 

What spurred you to read it? My 200-plus colleagues at Ideal Properties Group and I are reading it as a firm. Each week we read a chapter and talk about how we’ve integrated aspects of the book into our own businesses. We chose to read this book because one of its major tenets is to surround yourself with a team of like-minded individuals who share the same goals. It’s one reason why co-working spaces like WeWork have been so successful. 

Has anything stuck with you? This is a fascinating book on psychology and how the mind works. There’s a power in defining specific steps, goals and visualizing how one will achieve those goals. There’s also a rich historic aspect: Iconoclasts like Andrew Carnegie and Thomas Edison, as well as hundreds of common men, women and children, have achieved tremendous success against unbelievable odds.