Martelians’ Summer Reading Suggestions

Martelians’ Summer Reading Suggestions

Innovation starts with inspiration. We want to share with you the books and podcasts that captivate our imaginations and inform our thinking. Whether you’re a computer geek, a history nerd, a philosopher, a dreamer or a leader, we’ve got something for everyone.



The consequences of AI-based technologies for jobs, Peter Cappelli

Expert Peter Cappelli follows the recent public debate on the changes across industrial countries that stem from information technology, including notions of artificial intelligence and its implications for how work is performed. While acknowledging the size and pervasiveness of these discussions, the author debates the core argument related to the impact of information technology on the way businesses and organisations operate, how these changes could translate to the labour market, and other potential outcomes such as lower wages or unemployment. Know more

Suggested by Dr Monique Calisti, Martel CEO


Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, John Carreyrou

In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was widely seen as the female Steve Jobs: a brilliant Stanford dropout whose start-up ‘unicorn’ promised to revolutionize the medical industry with a machine that would make blood tests significantly faster and easier. Backed by investors such as Larry Ellison and Tim Draper, Theranos sold shares in a fundraising round that valued the company at $9 billion, putting Holmes’s worth at an estimated $4.7 billion. There was just one problem: The technology didn’t work. Know more

Suggested by Margherita Facca, Martel Digital and Graphic Designer


99% Invisible

A very well produced podcast on all sorts of inventions that are really relevant but, as the title suggests, basically invisible (Tech, architecture, design, literature, etc.). Know more

Suggested by Galileo Disperati, Martel Motion Graphic Designer


Reply All

A collection of stories: quirky, funny, and sometimes scary which were set in motion by the Internet. With an investigative journalism flavour to it. Very relevant for internet security issues. Know more

Suggested by Galileo Disperati, Martel Motion Graphic Designer


Business and Leadership

Embracing Complexity. Strategic Perspectives for an Age of Turbulence, Jean G. Boulton, Peter M. Allen, Cliff Bowman

This is about the cultural and practical consequences of internalizing the findings of various complexity-related mathematical and scientific advances, when this new knowledge can actually trigger a mindset change into people who don’t even have to be proficient in the theory itself. That’s when mathematics and science change the cultural world. The intended audience is business and political leaders, decision makers, social scientists and practitioners: the use cases deal with business strategy, international development, and economics. I found it useful for our own product and business strategic thinking, but also to consider some of the complex spaces Martel navigates, such as Smart Cities, IoT, and innovation management at large. Know more

Suggested by Dr Giovanni Rimassa, Martel Chief Innovation Officer


Uncharted: How to Map the Future Together, Margaret Heffernan

We are addicted to prediction, desperate for certainty about the future. But the complexity of modern life won’t provide that. In complex environments, efficiency is a hazard not a help; being robust is the better, safer option. Preparedness – doing everything today that you might need for tomorrow – provides the antidote to passivity and prediction.

Ranging freely through history and from business to science, government to friendships, this refreshing book challenges us to resist the false promises of technology and efficiency and instead to mine our own creativity and humanity for the capacity to create the futures we want and can believe in. Know more

Suggested by Dr Monique Calisti, Martel CEO


Unleashed: The Unapologetic Leader’s Guide to Empowering Everyone Around You, Frances Frei and Anne Morriss

Popular leadership advice glosses over the most important thing you do as a leader: Build others up. Leadership isn’t about you. It’s about how effective you are at empowering other people—and making sure that this impact endures even in your absence. As Frances and Anne show through inspiring stories from ancient Rome to Silicon Valley, the origins of great leadership are found, paradoxically, not in worrying about your own status and advancement, but in the unrelenting focus on other people’s potential. Know more

Suggested by Dr Monique Calisti, Martel CEO



Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman

Research conducted over decades is summarised in a thesis that there is a dichotomy between two modes of though: ‘System 1’ is fast, instinctive and emotional; ‘System 2’ is slower, more deliberate and more logical. From framing choices to people’s tendency to replace a difficult question with one which is easy to answer, the author suggests that people place too much confidence in human judgement. Know more

Suggested by Dr Monique Calisti, Martel CEO


Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, Steven Pinker

Cognitive scientist Steven Pinker assesses the human condition in the third millennium and urges us to step back from depressing headlines and prophecies of doom, which play to our psychological biases. Instead, he encourages us to follow the data, which show that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise worldwide – thanks to the conviction that reason and science can enhance human flourishing. Know more.

Suggested by Dr Verena Wottrich, Communication and Dissemination Specialist



The Idea of Europe: An Essay, George Steiner  

Steiner proposes five key elements famous for being equally brilliant and original, through which we can try to define ourselves as Europeans: the omnipresent coffee houses, a ‘walkable’  geography, the power of the past within the present, a tale of two cities: Athens and Jerusalem and the awareness of the death of its own civilization.  Know more

Suggested by Margherita Trestini, Martel Head of Media


Global Health

Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic, David Quammen

Ebola, SARS, Hendra, AIDS, and countless other deadly viruses all have one thing in common: the bugs that transmit these diseases all originate in wild animals and pass them on to humans by a process called spillover. In this gripping account, David Quammen takes the reader along on this astonishing quest to learn how, from where, and why these diseases emerge and asks the terrifying question: What might the next big one be? Know more 

Suggested by Margherita Facca, Martel Digital and Graphic Designer



In Europe: Travels Through the Twentieth Century, Geert Mak

The author, as a renowned journalist and writer, was sent on a cross-Europe trip in 1999 (at the turn of the century) to find traces, history and culture regarding the 20th century Europe in the last 100 years. Unique, personal and inspiring stories on a Europe that perhaps is less known. Know more

Suggested by Kai Zhang, Martel Project Manager


Three Stones Make a Wall: The Story of Archaeology, Eric H. Cline

Written by Eric Cline, an archaeologist with more than thirty seasons of excavation experience, Three Stones Make a Wall traces the history of archaeology from an amateur pursuit to the cutting-edge science it is today by taking the reader on a tour of major archaeological sites and discoveries, from Pompeii to Petra, Troy to the Terracotta Warriors, and Mycenae to Megiddo and Masada. Know more

Suggested by Dr Federico Facca, Martel Chief Technology Officer, Head of Martel Lab


The Celtic Holocaust, Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History Podcast

Dan Carlin shares his awe at the source material from Julius Caesar as our travel guide as he takes us through his subjugation of the native Celtic tribal peoples of ancient Gaul. The natives almost win! Weaving in different translations of source material to capture the nuance and historical bias, the master storyteller highlights the political motives of Caesar and paints a relatable picture of the Celts. The episode is 6 hours long and bears listening and relistening to. Know more

Suggested by Katherine Anderson, Martel Community and Communications Manager



The monkey’s wrench, Primo Levi

Levi always felt that satisfying work was essential for a happy life, and the honest hands-on work of someone who also used his intellect was the highest form of work. The magic is worked through the mesmerizing tales told by Libertini Faussone, a construction worker, and by the narrator, a writer-chemist, who share stories of their adventures. Faussone is a life-loving, self-educated philosopher who has built bridges and towers in India, Africa, Alaska, and Russia. His passion for work and travel shines through his stories – of a monkey who wanted to be a man, of a magnificent machine that caught stardust, and of a first love, a girl who drove a bulldozer. Know more 

Suggested by Margherita Trestini, Martel Head of Media


The Capital, Robert Menasse

A great European novel depicting EU and Brussels life in a very delightful way while satirically shedding light on the most random people and their European past. Know more

Suggested by Dr Verena Wottrich, Communication and Dissemination Specialist


The Heart Goes Last, Margaret Atwood

Maybe not as fully absorbing as her other, multi-volume, dystopian worlds, but just as ruthlessly sharp in the portrait of the human psyche and the social carousel around it. The story zooms in on a married couple, Chairmaine and Stan, who see a way out of their difficult situation in the middle of social and economic turmoil. All they must do is sign up for a new community building project, that promises a smooth suburban life for the price of participating in an innovative social experiment. Know more

Suggested by Dr Giovanni Rimassa, Martel Chief Innovation Officer


The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead

This book apparently tells a story about the escape of Cora, the main character, from a slave plantation in the southern US. There are however multiple aspects to it, mixing historical and fictional elements, blending metaphor and reality, as well as moving from character-based into the system-based narrative with a remarkable inventiveness. Some readers would have preferred for this book to be written in the first person, so that they could feel more strongly for Cora and sympathize more with her and the other people targeted by oppression and misfortune. I think that the third person helps us being aware that slavery was a designed system, stretching further beyond the collection of the innumerable individual stories, as poignant and impactful they may be. Know more

Suggested by Dr Giovanni Rimassa, Martel Chief Innovation Officer


Short stories, Alice Munro 

“Few authors can be easily recognised as being among the greatest of their generation. Fewer still can easily be counted as staying among the literary elite for the entirety of their careers” Nobel-Prize winning author Alice Munro is the renowned Canadian short-story writer whose visceral work explores the tangled relationships between men and women, small-town existence and the fallibility of memory. Read here some of her stories and explore more about the writer and yourself!  Know more

Suggested by Dr Lamprini Kolovou, Martel Head of Consulting