Still Home for the Holidays:

Still Home for the Holidays: 

Books That Helped Me Get Through 2020


As we inch toward the end of a momentous year, we asked a handful of our leaders a question: Which book helped them get through this challenging year?

Their answers were incredibly diverse. Some used this year as an opportunity to reread an all-time favorite. Others chose to learn more about their hometown or focus on self-development. And many turned to inspirational stories in which the human spirit prevails.

Executive Reads

  • Senior Vice President, Schwab Advisor Services

    Jalina Kerr

    Jalina Kerr, Senior Vice President, Schwab Advisor Services, says All The Light We Cannot See is one of her all-time favorite books. “I re-read it this year because I was looking for something to keep the pandemic in perspective. The backdrop of World War II reminds us of other challenging times in world history that we had to get through as people, individually and collectively. Ultimately, it's a story of courage and human redemption, which we could all use a steady dose of during 2020 and heading into 2021.”

  • Senior Vice President, Wasmer-Shroeder Fixed Income, Charles Schwab

    Marty Wasmer

    “For me, it was a very impactful read, as it created perspective on outlier events, the way we react to them and the long-held beliefs that are often contributors to the severity of the events,” says Marty Wasmer, Senior Vice President, Wasmer-Shroeder Fixed Income. “Taleb is both technically minded and a storyteller, and as he weaves through our history we are left with that sense of having been here before. The book is a very relevant read in the context of our pandemic predicament.”

Executive Reads

  • Senior Vice President, Engineering, Charles Schwab

    Hardeep Walia

    Hardeep Walia, Senior Vice President, Engineering, says he was introduced to this book by a neighbor who hosted a virtual quiz night using the questions in this book. “It tests our intuition about the world we live in and Rosling proves with data why most of us are wrong,” he says. “Nice way to stay focused on the good news in the world as we go through unprecedented difficult times.” Rosling explains that the world, in all its imperfections and adversity, is in a much better state than often believed.

  • Branch Manager, USAA Wealth Managers Team, Charles Schwab

    John Sheehan

    “It's an incredibly detailed account of an extraordinary American hero that I’d had on my reading wish list since it was published in 2018,” says John Sheehan, Branch Manager for the USAA Wealth Managers team. “It provided me great insight into a turbulent time in history with parallels to current times. It took me several months to finish, but was one of the more rewarding books I’ve completed.”

Executive Reads

  • Managing Director, TD Ameritrade Retail Sales & Branches

    Tom Butch

    “Since my father served in World War II, with an arc not unlike that chronicled in 'Band of Brothers'— D-Day invasion to concentration camp liberation—I am drawn to books that personalize soldiers’ journeys through that war,” says Tom Butch, Managing Director, TD Ameritrade Retail Sales & Branches. “In addition to educating me about the Italian theater of the war (the Anzio invasion preceded D-Day by six months and was similarly daunting), The Liberator reflects on the courage, selflessness and fraternity of ordinary men in the most unimaginable circumstances. The men of World War II are fading inexorably into history. Books like The Liberator keep their stories alive for all of us.”

  • Chief Market Strategist, TD Ameritrade

    JJ Kinahan

    JJ Kinahan, Chief Market Strategist for TD Ameritrade, says: “The message is timeless, as it forces you to self-examine as to what is really important to you and how success in one area of your life may mean sacrifice on others.  The more you have your own guiding principles, the easier it will be to achieve the success that matters to your life.”

Executive Reads

  • Chief Financial Officer, Charles Schwab

    Peter Crawford

    Peter Crawford, Chief Financial Officer for Charles Schwab counts this classic international bestseller from 1946 as one of his favorite books of all time. “Why?  It’s an inspiring story of how people can deal with unimaginable hardship,” he says. The author shares the account of his time spent in Nazi concentration camps and explores the human will to find meaning in the face of unimaginable adversity.

  • Managing Director, TD Ameritrade Communications

    Kimberly Hillyer

    “For those interested in history, curling up next to the fire with a good book and a mug of hot tea – this was a delight,” Kimberly Hillyer, Managing Director of TD Ameritrade Communications, says. “Miss Cassette’s writing style is so fun and reminiscent of a 1940s-era dame trying to crack a cold case. I enjoyed it so much, and learned a lot about the history of my hometown – bonus!”

Executive Reads

  • Vice President, Diversity & Inclusion, Charles Schwab

    Cindy Owyoung

    “It helped me to reframe obstacles as opportunities that force you to innovate, rethink problems and find new pathways to get things done. Knowing I can control how I react to adversity and let go of others’ negativity helped me get through this challenging year,” says Cindy Owyoung, Vice President, Diversity & Inclusion at Schwab.

  • Chief Investment Strategist, Charles Schwab

    Liz Ann Sonders

    “I reread Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice just for a little historical escapism during this very rough year,“ Liz Ann Sonders, Chief Investment Strategist for Charles Schwab, says. “If you haven’t read it, it is the ultimate happily ever after tale; but filled with not just love, but also humor, scandal and hypocrisy...the makings of a great story!”

Executive Reads

  • Head of Wealth & Advice Solutions, Charles Schwab

    Neesha Hathi

    Neesha Hathi, Head of Wealth & Advice Solutions for Charles Schwab, says that the book “challenges us to focus on the eulogy, not the resume, and nurture deeper inner values — like humility, kindness, bravery — to guide us along the way. Particularly relevant today, this book is essential for anyone in the midst of soul searching, and aren’t we all? Author David Brooks explores the real-life experiences of some inspirational leaders who developed strong inner character after overcoming personal struggles.”

  • Managing Director, Integration Management, TD Ameritrade

    Lee McAdoo

    Lee McAdoo, Managing Director, Integration Management, says that the book “was a great reminder that we often see the amazing output of the efforts of a person, or a handful of people, but often have no idea how hard they work and what obstacles they have overcome to get there. We all think of Nike as an inspired brand that changed the way we think about sports and athletes, but this story is about the many times Nike almost never came to be, but for the fortitude of its founder. The ability to have that kind of grit, tenacity and focus is great reminder and inspiration during this challenging year."