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Level5 Fall Reading List<br/> (Part 1)


Level5 Fall Reading List
(Part 1)

As the summer wraps up and the weather begins to change, we asked the Level5 team to share some picks from their bookshelves for our Fall Reading List. Explore at what Level5 has been reading and discover your next book!

Jordan Shapiro, PrincipalJordan Shapiro


This Must Be the Place by Shain Shapiro

This Must Be the Place introduces and examines music’s relationship to cities. Not the influence cities have on music, but the powerful impact music can have on how cities are developed, built, managed, and governed. Arguing for the transformative role of artists and musicians in a post-pandemic world, This Must Be The Place not only examines the powerful impact music can have on our cities, but also serves as a guide for music-lovers, artists, and activists everywhere to begin the process of reinventing the communities they live in.

A great read for anyone interested in music, cities, and strategy, this book illustrates how taking a different perspective can often carve new pathways to unlocking sustainable growth and impact.

The book cover of This Must Be the Place by Shain Shapiro

James Hunter, ManagerJames Hunter


Deacon King Kong by James McBride

James McBride’s Deacon King Kong is a profoundly humorous and human novel. The fast-paced, rhythmic prose immediately immerses you into the Cause House projects and 1969 New York. What sets this novel apart from others is McBride’s compassion for each of his characters; every character is written with depth and empathy, making it easy for readers to connect with them. If you’re looking for a literary page-turner, look no further Deacon King Kong.

The book cover of Deacon King Kong by James McBride

Sahar Jessa


Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Set in the early 1960s, this book follows the life of Elizabeth Zott; an aspiring chemist whose dreams are constantly overshadowed by society’s stereotypical domestication of women. Zott takes a job as a TV host of a cooking show where she uses her platform to teach housewives across the nation way more than just recipes. Lessons in Chemistry is the perfect mix of a funny, heartwarming, sad, and serious read. It highlights themes of motherhood, feminism, family, sexism in the workplace, and constraints on women’s ambitions.

I loved this book and couldn’t put it down – I would highly recommend everyone to read it.

The book cover of Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Bashaar Hassan, AnalystBashaar Hassan


Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown

This is a fantastic read to develop your emotional vocabulary. The fundamental premise of this book is we need the words to describe our emotions if we are to become emotionally intelligent individuals. My favorite thing about this book is that it is genuinely built like an atlas to help you figure out what you’re feeling when you’re feeling it. It has become a staple on my nightstand and a book I refer to often. Highly recommend!

The book cover of Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown

Jonah Zgraggen, ConsultantJonah Zgraggen


The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous by Joseph Henrich

This is one of those books that flipped some fundamental assumptions I implicitly held about the way the world works. No, the WEIRD world (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic) we inhabit is not normal – rather the West is psychologically distinct (to a shocking degree) from pretty much everywhere else, in some pretty crucial ways. For example, modern westerners:

  • Are individualist, not collectivist or conformist
  • Feel more guilt and less shame
  • Reason analytically not holistically
  • Are more patient
  • Trust strangers more and are more honest
  • Follow more universal norms and less relationship-specific norms

To uncover how we became so different, Henrich maps the historical shifts that occurred in the West which shaped and evolved our psychologies over time. This book is truly a box of chocolates of fascinating research tidbits. The author is a Harvard anthropologist, and he holds nothing back in the way of research – I lost count of the ethnographic and historical examples he draws on to back up his ideas. One example that sticks out is a historical account of why the mafia reigns over the South of Italy but not the North.

The ideas in the book have all sorts of implications for many of the practices we take for granted. For example, how should we re-think academic research in light of the fact that while most of the studies we take for granted are conducted on WEIRD populations, despite us being among the least representative populations one could find for generalizing about humans?

The book cover of The WEIRDest People in the World by Joseph Henrich

Stay tuned for Part Two of our Fall Reading List!


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