Fifth Tribe Bookshelf: Chapter One

Whether it’s a favorite that you go back to time and again, or a childhood classic that hits a nostalgic nerve, we all have books that have made an impact on us in one way or another. Get to know your Fifth Tribe team with a peek into some of our favorite reads.

If you can’t judge a book by its cover, then you can’t judge us by the books we love, right?

I’ll start…


Non-Fiction: Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, by Barbara Demick

Until I read this book, I was (sadly) largely unaware of the unsettlingly dire situation of North Korea. A journalist follows the lives of six North Korean citizens over the course of 15 years, through a chaotic period that sees the death of Kim Il-sung, the rise to power of his son Kim Jong-il, and a devastating famine that killed one-fifth of the population. It is a thoroughly difficult read about a society that seems to have jumped out of the Orwellian dark ages. In this digital era of technology and social advancement, reading this opened my eyes to the crushing oppression that many people still face every day.


Fiction: The Kitchen God’s Wife, by Amy Tan

I first read this book almost 20 years ago at the age of 13 and it remains a lifelong favorite. The poignant account of Winnie’s life in World War II war-torn China is harrowing-she undergoes one hardship after another and yet, there’s a beauty in the downfall. The will of the human spirit is resilient beyond measure; even when stretched to the breaking point, we are capable of triumph.



Non-Fiction: Parallel Lives, by Plutarch

I learn something new every time I come back to this classical roman work. It describes the successes and failures of some of the most famous figures from antiquity, packed with insight on leadership, relationships, and power. It’s sadly incomplete, with large sections lost in the tumultuous collapse of Rome, but what remains has been required reading for European power players since the Renaissance.


Fiction: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, by Robert A. Heinlein

I devoured this 1966 science-fiction classic during a hiking trip 10 years ago, and the story has stuck with me ever since. The portrayal of a melting-pot moon colony of former convicts throwing off the yoke of oppression will always stir some romantic part of me. No book I’ve read has better captured the human desire for friendship and freedom.



Non-Fiction: The Creator’s Code: The Six Essential Skills of Extraordinary Entrepreneurs, by Amy Wilkinson

If you’re looking for a blueprint to build a successful company, Amy Wilkinson’s “The Creator’s Code” is a great read. The author focuses on entrepreneurs who built companies that achieved either $100 million in revenue or 100,000 customers. She identifies six critical skills she found present in all these business leaders, regardless of the industry they operated in: (1) spotting gaps in the marketplace, (2) maintaining a long-term vision, (3) iterating quickly, (4) failing intelligently, (5) collaborating, and (6) expressing generosity. Whether one is building a small business or large one, the book is a great read on entrepreneurial best practices.


Fiction: The Iliad, by Homer

I first came across the Iliad when I was in high school and we were studying Greek mythology in my religious studies class. The central theme of the epic revolves around a discussion regarding kleos (glory) vs nostos (homecoming). Achilles, the main hero of the poem, must choose between dying a young, glorious death, honored throughout the ages as a hero, or growing old with his family, living a comfortable life but ultimately forgotten. He chooses the former, setting into a motion a conflict that engulfs both human and divine beings. The work is an important read as it discusses many themes around leadership such as sacrifice, glory, hubris, inspiration, diplomacy, and conflict.

Stay tuned for Chapter Two, where we get input from more Fifth Tribers. What are some of your favorites?

Khuram Zaman

Khuram Zaman is the CEO of Fifth Tribe, a leading digital agency serving the Washington DC Metropolitan Area based out of the 1776 Startup Co-working Space. In his professional capacity, he has provided digital marketing services to clients as diverse as the Department of Defense, Kaiser Permanente, Oxfam America, Ernst and Young, and The Hult Prize. His writing has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur.com, and Business2Community. Khuram is the host of the Campfire: Impact and Innovation live podcast on Youtube. In his free-time, Khuram serves as a mentor to startups through the Peace Tech Accelerator, the Halycon Incubator, and is also a Entrepreneur in Residence at Georgetown University