By David Thalberg, President – Stryker-Munley Group-Los Angeles

It’s August. If you have a vacation planned, it’s a great time to catch up on your reading. And by reading, I mean anything other than your Twitter and Facebook feeds! How about a book? Summer is a great time to kick back with a great beach read, or to catch up on the latest bestseller.

What’s on your nightstand (or likely your Kindle)? To give you a bit more insight on us, I’ve asked the leads of each Stryker-Munley Group office to share their book preferences (you’ll see some like-minded readers here – Hemingway may be a likely choice, but who knew how influential “Harold” and his “Purple Crayon” were to communications professionals?)

I’ll start (and a quick aside: even though this was my idea, trying to pick just one favorite, or even two, per category was extremely difficult for me and my colleagues. What was I thinking?!?) And you’re invited to share your favorite reads at the end of this post in the Comments section. Enjoy!

David Thalberg, President, Stryker-Munley Group – Los Angeles

Currently Reading: The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena and David: The Divided Heart by David Wolpe
Favorite Novel: Kane & Abel by Jeffrey Archer, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon and The Stand by Stephen King
Favorite Non-Fiction: Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl and Firehouse by David Halberstam
Favorite Children’s Book: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert C. O’Brien
Favorite Author: Dennis Lehane, Stephen King
A note: Firehouse was written about the firehouse in my neighborhood when I lived in New York City… after 9/11. They lost 12 brave men that day and Halberstam captured the emotions that we, the surviving firefighters and their friends and families were feeling then… and today.

Mike Jamieson, President, Stryker-Munley Group – New York

Currently Reading: The Princes of Ireland by Edward Rutherford
Favorite Novel: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Favorite Non-Fiction: A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
Bryson makes science from the Big Bang (not to the TV show) to today – come alive. It’s profoundly interesting if you are a bit of a science nerd, and even funny.
Favorite Children’s Book: Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
Favorite Author: Bill Bryson – So many great books. Try “Notes from a Small Island” or “Mother Tongue”.

Jennifer Bulotti, President, Stryker-Munley Group – Sacramento

Currently Reading: Presence by Amy Cuddy
Favorite Novel: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum (Ed. Note: Bet you didn’t know that was the full title, did you?)
Favorite Non-Fiction: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
Favorite Children’s Book: Oh the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Suess and Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Favorite Author: Malcolm Gladwell, Nicholas Kristof, James Patterson, Matthew C. Le Merle
A note: I’m particularly proud of the work of our clients, Matthew C. Le Merle and Alison Davis and their two books–Build Your Fortune in the Fifth Era and Corporate Innovation in the Fifth Era

Allison Collinger, President, Stryker-Munley Group – St. Louis

Currently Reading: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k by Mark Manson
Favorite Novel: Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho
Favorite Non-Fiction: The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
Favorite Children’s book: Picasso and the Girl with a Ponytail by Laurence Anholt
Favorite Author: Ken Follett
A note: I’m reading lots of books concurrently – Have a favorite daily one: Journey to the Heart, by Melody Beattie. My college roommate is a self professed recovering attorney turned librarian. She has an amazing room at the redone Carnegie build library in downtown St. Louis and she is my sherpa of all things books.

Rosemaria DiBenedetto, President, Stryker-Munley Group – Chicago

Currently Reading: Winning at Social Customer Care by Dan Gingiss
Favorite Novel: The Prince by Machiavelli and Five Days in Paris by Danielle Steel
Favorite Non-Fiction: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
Favorite Children’s book: Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Favorite Author: Nicholas Sparks
A Note: I love Sparks’ writing style because you feel like you are right there with the characters. I’m just a romantic at heart.

Andy Boian, President, Stryker-Munley Group – Denver

Currently Reading: The Street Lawyer by John Grisham Note: I’ve always loved his books and with all of the other business/political material I must sift through…..
Favorite Novel: Lethal Legacy by Linda Fairstein
Favorite Non-Fiction: There is no chance I have one; but one of them is We’re Still Right, They’re Still Wrong, by my former boss and mentor James Carville. I love it and lived so much of what he wrote…”don’t complicate the simple,” he always says.
Favorite Children’s Book: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. “Hands down the best children’s book ever.”
Favorite Author: I don’t have a favorite author, but Jack Kerouac and Larry Tye are the best I’ve ever read.

Dan LaMountain, President, Stryker-Munley Group – New Jersey

Currently Reading: The Carpenter by John Gordon
Favorite Novel: The Killer Angels: The Classic Novel of the Civil War by Michael Shaara
Favorite Non-Fiction: Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
Favorite Children’s Book: The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Favorite Author: Ernest Hemingway
A note: Malcolm Gladwell has several very enlightening books. Great listening as an audiobook while traveling!

Jeff Krakoff, President, Stryker-Munley Group – Pittsburgh

Currently Reading: The Rainmaker by John Grisham: (I know I’m a little late since this book has been around for about two decades… but it’s really good!)
Favorite Novel: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (I’ve always been a big Hemingway fan and love this story.)
Favorite Non-Fiction: The E Myth and The E Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber
Favorite Children’s Book: Curious George by H.A. and Margaret Rey
Favorite Author: In addition to Hemingway, I am a big mystery reader and have read Robert Ludlum novels for more than 30 years.

Cheryl Klufio, President, Stryker-Munley Group – Tampa Bay

Currently Reading: Native Guard by Natasha Trethewey
Favorite Novel: It’s impossible to say, as I have several: Fragments by Ayi Kwei Armah, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, Harmattan Rain by my friend Ayesha Harruna Attah and L’Enfant de Sable by Tahar Ben Jalloun, to name a few. (“Impossible,” I say.)
Favorite Non-Fiction: Again, I have several. A recent favorite is Essentialism by Greg McKeown (it will change your life)
Favorite Children’s Book: The Faraway Tree series by Enid Blyton, A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett and several of Roald Dahl’s books
Favorite Author: “I can’t seem to think of one without feeling I am betraying another!”

Tim Cox, President, Stryker-Munley Group – Silicon Valley

Currently Reading: Nevertheless: A Memoir by Alec Baldwin
Favorite Novel: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Favorite Non-Fiction: Becoming Steve Jobs by Brent Schlender
Favorite Children’s Book: Anything with Biggles in it.
Favorite Author: Keigo Higashino, Neal Stephenson, Evelyn Waugh

We’d love to hear what you’re reading this summer. Please feel free to share in the comments section!

One final note – while I’ve provided links to Amazon for many of the books above, I highly suggest you support your local independent bookstore. Two of my local favorites are Laguna Beach Books and Island Tale Bookshop and when back in New York City, I always stop at Book Culture.

SMG-LA’s David Thalberg started his career at a book publicity firm in New York City, where he worked for 20 years. Books and publishing are a passion of his. Now living on the West Coast, he is always on the lookout for a great independent bookstore… the lifeblood of this industry.


  • These are great lists!
    Currently Reading: The Stand by Stephen King and The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell
    Favorite Novel: House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski
    Favorite Non-Fiction: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks
    Favorite Children’s Book: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
    Favorite Author: I’ll say Neil Gaiman, but there are so many…

    Thanks for sharing, everyone, I love seeing book lists like these.

  • So many great choices here! And a wide range of tastes for just about any literary palate. I was surprised that nobody mentioned my favorite contemporary author, John Irving. I highly recommend “The World According to Garp,” but if you are looking for a novel that will really stick with you, try Irving’s “A Prayer for Owen Meany.”

    Thanks for sharing, SMG professionals!

    • John – I wanted to include “Garp” – always high on my list Irving is an amazing writer. Love his work. As I wrote.. May have been my idea, but this was a HARD exercise!

  • After seeing some of my associates’ choices, I want to shake up my list (Rainmaker! Excellent book.). Great options…

  • Ah, I am sad to say that this summer has been a summer of pure unadulterated pap! It has been fun, titillating and a catalyst to start writing juicy cook books. I read the entire Nora Roberts canon from her beginnings as a bodice buster author to her great futuristic novels under the penn J.D. Robb. You ardent intellectuals have inspired me to up my ante. Perhaps this winter I will while away the hours with Sophocles.

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