What the movers and shakers are reading David Southwood Tax principal, Grant Thornton Most of my job-related reading consists of going through tax cases, legislation, journals and reports, so outside of work I shy away from anything connected with that and usually choose books just for enjoyment. One of my favourite genres is historical fiction, which can give you something substantial yet keeps the pages turning. I recommend anything by Bernard Cornwell, but particularly his Sharpe series set in the Napoleonic wars. It is well researched and based around actual battles, cleverly interweaving the different elements and giving a real insight into those times. I also think Fatherland by Robert Harris is a great read. He makes use of historical characters from the 1940s and adds a 'what if' twist. The result is a murder-mystery taking place in Germany, as it might have become in the 1960s if the country had won the second world war. There is a solid basis in fact, but he also gives you plenty to think about. Especially on holidays, I like browsing through second-hand bookshops and picking up whatever looks interesting. It can be a bit of a hit-and-miss approach but has led me into a wide range of topics. One lucky find, for example, was a book about Cardiff Castle, which is close to where I grew up in South Wales. And a few years ago I came across Noel Barber's The War of the Running Dogs. It is about the Malaya emergency in the 1950s and has one line I have always remembered: 'The answer lies not in pouring more troops into the jungle, but in the hearts and minds of the people.' That hasn't gone out of date - just look at Iraq. Since moving to Hong Kong, I've taken a close interest in local history and places. I find that is the best way to set wherever you are living in context and understand the things around you. Following that theme, I started with books such as Captive Christmas, Alan Birch and Martin Cole's account of the battle for Hong Kong in 1941 and what happened afterwards. Generally, I'm much more interested in history at that level than in the broad spectrum of nations. That's why I was glad to come across a rare 1959 work called The Hong Kong Story by John Luff. On one level, it tells the story of Hong Kong, but it is also serves as a commentary on the attitudes and opinions of his era. More recently, I was also given Philip Snow's The Fall of Hong Kong. With the tax-reporting season coming up, it will probably keep me going for some time. My family complain that I never let a book go. It is not that I deliberately collect them, but I do like to keep a few all-time favourites close at hand to re-read quite regularly. Among those is Bryce Courtenay's The Power of One, the story of a young boy growing to manhood in South Africa. It is often described as a 'triumph of the human spirit', and I've read it so many times that I had to buy a new copy recently because the old one was falling apart.