What they're reading now

Real estate pros share their picks for books on the innocence of youth, the importance of failing and how money and power aren’t everything
By Danielle Balbi | November 01, 2017 10:00AM

Ellen Baer
President, Hudson Square Connection

What are you reading right now? “Swing Time” by Zadie Smith.

What spurred you to read that book? I exclusively read fiction and have always enjoyed Zadie Smith’s books, especially “White Teeth” and “On Beauty.” I haven’t finished “Swing Time” yet, but I think Smith is a very talented author.

Has anything you read in the book stuck with you? “Swing Time” is the name of a Fred Astaire movie from the 1930s, and I remember watching his movies with my mother when I was a child. The story itself is beautifully written and uses music as a way to “dance” through the various periods of the primary character’s life. The early parts of the book use old Fred Astaire songs and dances as a metaphor for the innocence of youth — we need this kind of reminder of our innocence right now.

Adam Mahfouda
President and CEO, Oxford Property Group

What are you reading right now, or what did you finish most recently? “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World” by Adam Grant.

What spurred you to read it? I received Adam Grant’s first book, “Give and Take,” from one of our agents as a gift. I was halfway through the book and enjoying it but accidentally left it at home while traveling, so I grabbed this one at the airport bookstore.

Has anything you read in the book stuck with you? Something that struck me was how many of the great inventors, poets and composers in the world have produced massive volumes of work over their lifetimes. Thomas Edison filed 1,093 patents. Pablo Picasso created 1,800 paintings, 2,800 ceramics, 1,200 sculptures and 12,000 drawings. Maya Angelou wrote over 165 poems. Grant makes the argument that it’s not always the case that you produce better work by doing less and focusing intensely on one thing, but rather that the most predictable path to quality ideas is from producing large volumes of work. It’s a reminder that you must produce a countless amount of failures or bad ideas in order to find the good ones.

Would you recommend it to others? Yes. I thought there were many powerful ideas on how you can create change in your life and in the world around you.

Katie Mahon
Managing Director, NY Tri-State Region Retail Services & Brokerage Operations, Cushman & Wakefield

What are you reading right now, or what did you finish most recently? “Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder” by Arianna Huffington.

What spurred you to read that book? Arianna Huffington is a strong, successful woman who has always inspired me. I’m usually not very good with well-being books, but I respect Arianna and figured I would give it a shot.

Has anything you read in it stuck with you? How to be present in every situation. The book also made me think about my inner voice and how to redefine what success and happiness mean to me.

Would you recommend it to others? After reading “Thrive” I purchased 30 copies for the women I manage.