The Real Deal New York

What they're reading now

Real estate pros share their picks for books on Ulysses S. Grant, the drivers of human progress, and more…
By Erin Hudson | May 01, 2018 11:00AM

Paula Del Nunzio
Broker, Brown Harris Stevens

What are you reading now, or what did you finish most recently? “Grant” by Ron Chernow. The author puts so much detail from original sources in his writing that they come to life in a way that few other authors seem to achieve.

What prompted you to read this book? Reading about historical figures allows [us] to see how extraordinary problems in the past were solved by major figures, which often can shed insight on the issues of today. The author also has several other superb biographies — such as “Washington: A Life,” “Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.” and “Alexander Hamilton”— that were fascinating reads like this book.

What has stuck with you from the book? The depth of his use of primary sources and the description of the surrender at Appomattox is like a scene in a movie.

Would you recommend it? Absolutely. The events of this period resonate today.

Brandon Weber
Co-founder and chief product officer, VTS

What are you reading right now, or what did you finish most recently? “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari. The book lays out a brief history of the human species, from our rise as hunter-gatherers through the agricultural and industrial revolutions, touching on the why behind important social structures like religion, government [and] economics.

What spurred you to read that book? Barack Obama and Bill Gates both named it as one of their favorite books of the year.

Has anything you read in the book stuck with you? It lays out a framework for thinking about the drivers of human progress over thousands of years that challenges conventional wisdom and sets the table for what is to come with the advent of artificial intelligence. I’m a big fan of learning new frameworks for thinking about problems, and this was as good as advertised.

Would you recommend it to others? One hundred percent! It was a page-turner because the ideas laid out are compelling in what they tell us about ourselves, and the writing is witty and easy to digest.

James Guimaraes
Broker, Ideal Properties Group

What did you finish most recently? “Norse Mythology” by Neil Gaiman. It’s a collection of short stories designed to take you from the creation of the universe through the end of it. The stories are in roughly chronological order, and the book has a subtle sense of humor about its characters, which puts a smile on my face every time I pick up the book.

What spurred you to read it? I’m a big fan of the author. He has a sense of humor about the gods and the complicated situations they land in. Bad things (and sometimes good things) happen to the gods in the book, based on their inability to think beyond their personality. Most of them only see the world through their own eyes. It’s a great lesson to step outside of yourself and look at the big picture.

Would you recommend it to others? Absolutely. The book is a fantastic escape from the pressures of New York City real estate. It’s a great way to clear my head at the end of the day so that I’m ready for tomorrow. It’s pure escapism.