Sharing a culture of learning via our company library

Our physical library 

In one of our recent blog articles, Our core values in practice: how we raise the bar by learning and growing, we mentioned the company library as a source of knowledge, an initiative we started a few years back. In the beginning, the company library was physical and could be found in our office in Amsterdam. Nowadays, since our team has also grown remotely, we have expanded to having a digital library as well, to allow each and every one of us access to it, no matter where we are located.

Because we want to grow and succeed and at the same time educate ourselves and become stronger in knowledge, you will find in our library titles that not only matter to the industry we’re part of but also titles that help us shape our company culture. Our physical library contains ~150 books from different fields: engineering, data, organisation, HR and so much more….while the digital one is slowly growing.

“So many books, so little time.” Frank Zappa said…oh, wait, covid just gave us more time than ever

Last year, with that much free time on our hands, it was obvious that we would dive into new lectures. It was either for the simple joy of reading and escaping the reality of covid or because at that time we saw  the opportunity to gain more knowledge.

To make things fun, we challenged our team one day to share on Slack what they were reading. Below are some of the books that have kept us busy in the past year:

  • The Drunkard's Walk by Leonard Mlodinow
  • The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan
  • Turn the Ship Around by L. David Marquet
  • Amsterdam - A history of the world's most liberal city by Russell Shorto
  • The Science of Discworld by Ian Stewart, Jack Cohen, and Terry Pratchett
  • Three Men In a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
  • My Life as an Explorer by Roald Amundsen
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  • Remote: Office Not Required by David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried
  • The Effective Engineer by Edmond Lau
  • Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
  • Emptiness dancing by Adyashanti
  • Site Reliability Engineering by Betsy Beyer, Chris Jones
  • Principles-life-work by Ray Dalio
  • Thinking in bets by Annie Duke

Deep and broad reading habits lead to new insights and help sharpen our intelligence across company. This is why we continue to challenge ourselves and to search for answers or new ways to perform our work. While we purchase a few books per month, we add the double amount on the wish list!

"Books are a form of political action. Books are knowledge. Books are reflection. Books change your mind," Toni Morrison

Books are an important part of us, they contribute to who we are, to how we work and open our view on life and work and everything else in between. This is why we wanted to come up with a list of books that everyone should read at least once in their life. We launched this in the past year as one of the fun challenges to the team, and here are some of the titles we came up with. We also asked some of our team members why they recommended those books.

Extreme ownership

Luis - I recommend it because it's the book that changed my life! It unlocked many skills (especially leadership skills) I was not aware I had. At the same time it enabled me to understand and get the best out of people around me.

All quiet on the western front & 1Q84

Ido - "All quiet on the western front” is a shocking reminder of how terrible things can be in a "western" society, it's only a ~100 years ago, not a 1000. I also really like how it tells the story of an individual inside such horror.

1Q84 is simply a masterpiece, it really takes you into a different world while you follow 3 different people's lives and how they converge.

Unfuck yourself & Atomic habits

Joao - These are life changing books that show you different perspectives and ways to see life and improve your life quality. The first talks about how to handle difficult situations in life, the second is an extremely pragmatic book about habit building.

Debt: The First 5000 Years - David Graeber

Raposo - This book completely blew my mind with the way it destroyed many common sense ideas I had about money, economics and society in general. The main theme is the history of money, but by telling it in a very accessible way from the anthropological standpoint, it takes you on a ride that goes far beyond that seemingly boring subject, and explores its tight relationship with culture, religion and morality that, to this day, are reflected in language, law and traditions. It's one of the most enriching books I’ve ever read, that changed my views on many current aspects of society.

Ape and Essence is the underrated sibling of the mandatory “Brave New World”, “1984" and “Lord of the Flies”. It’s a masterpiece. The story is set in the post-nuclear-holocaust Earth after the Third World War, where only New Zealand was left unharmed and is now sending expeditions to rediscover the world. In a very subtle way, the book raises discussions about religion, morality, psychology, group behaviour, etc... A gripping, thought-provoking book, that gave me many “eureka moments” that make you want to share with others. It definitely affected my views on society in general. One curious thing about this book is that it is written in screenplay format, as if it was written for a movie, which adds an unusual dramatic air that really adds to the experience.

Mindset & Talking to strangers

Mohit - Mindset is an enduring read to self-help ourselves to have the mindset of learning & growing, at the same time understanding how success is quite closely related to that.
Talking to strangers is a book that explains the importance of effective communication & explains with real life examples of how communication might have led to a different and better outcome. It gives you examples on how to make your communication structured in a complex situation.

Thinking fast and slow

Caro - “Thinking, fast and slow” is an eye-opener on how people take decisions. After reading the book, you will have an increased awareness of our biases and how irrational many of our decisions are - and why that is the case.  Which will eventually help you make better decisions, but also understand the way others around you think and decide.
Also, experiments! There are plenty of examples of experiments Kahneman and other researchers have conducted, some of them which will make your mind dazzle.

“Every man’s ability may be strengthened or increased by culture” by John Abbot.

Our newest addition to the company library is The Culture Map by Erin Meyer. We have over 25 nationalities in our team and while we have always embraced cultural differences at FindHotel, this came naturally long before we started looking at the different communication/ negotiation/collaboration styles and understanding them.

Now, as we’re heading towards exponential growth and adding even more cultures, we introduced The Culture Map to the welcome package for our new colleagues. This sets the ground and expectations for entering a highly international team and encourages new joiners to understand aspects of their own culture as well as others', in order to be prepared to form new and successful collaborations.

Newest addition to the library

Read, read, read. —William Faulkner

…because it increases knowledge

…because reading helps reduce stress

…because a new book can bring a new set of ideas

…because it increases critical thinking, leadership, creativity and other skills

…because it reinforces our values and contributes to maintaining a learning company culture.

Needless to say that we see the benefits of reading and it is one of the hobbies that every one of us lists and that we have in common.

Since we are all avid readers, we’ve gone a step further and created a company account on Goodreads where you can follow us to see what we have been reading and what’s still on our ‘to read’ list. Feel free to add us as your friend, we’d be happy and curious to see what kind of books you’re passionate about! :)