Books To Get You Thinking - Special Holiday Edition

The chill of  the December air brings along with it Holiday cheer,  time spent with family and friends,  and  hours spent curled up in front of the fireplace with a favorite book. It’s also the time to start working on your Gifts List.  For just about everyone on that list, books make the ideal gift providing countless hours of reading pleasure long after the excitement of the Holiday Season is behind us ! To help you find just the right title here is a selection of books both fiction and nonfiction that is likely to please every taste.

Non Fiction

Why Does the World Exist by Jim Holt                                                                                                                               This fascinating book addresses the fundamental question of why the universe exists. Traveling across London, Paris, Oxford, Pittsburgh and Austin, Texas Holt interviewed a host of scholars – philosophers, cosmologists, and practitioners of religion looking for the answer to the fundamental question of “Why is there something rather than nothing?” In each of the eight chapters Holt explores alternate theories along with the rationale behind the thinking.

What Matters Now: How to Win in a World of Relentless Change, Ferocious Competition, and Unstoppable Innovation by Gary Hamel                                                                                                                                                   The author, a professor at the London School of Economics, identifies five different areas that are important to focus on in today’s global business environment: maintaining values as an underlying force in all business decisions, constant innovation as well as adaptability in the face of change , a new management ideology that removes the current hierarchical structure of organizations  and passion for work as a driving force for delivering client value.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed                                                                         A riveting and moving memoir of one woman’s quest to find herself. Depressed and lonely after a failed marriage and the loss of her mother,  twenty two year old Cheryl decides to pick up the pieces and sets out on a lone trek across the Pacific Coast Trail with just a backpack  and very little money. Readers share the physical challenges and suffering of the long grueling walk as well as the beauty of the trail and ultimately the healing power of this arduous experience.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain                                                       An important book that draws attention to the pervading modern culture that currently respects and extols  extroverts and emphasizes the importance of personality and charisma over character and good deeds. The workplace culture is also geared towards group and team work that works well for extroverts. However creativity and productivity can sometimes come from focusing and brainstorming in solitude and introverts have the power to become catalysts of change and innovation.

Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks                                                                                                                                           A fascinating look into the mysteries of the mind by Oliver Sacks, a professor of neurology at New York University. This absorbing book examines the different forms of hallucinations – visual, auditory, and olfactory in short stories that draw on both the history of neurology as well as the author’s own experiences and the experiences of his patients to illustrate the complex workings of the brain.


Winter of the World by Ken Follet                                                                                                                                The second volume in Ken Follet’s Century Trilogy, Winter of the World is the sequel to the immensely popular Fall of the Giants. Readers are drawn into a spellbinding drama engulfing the lives of five different families inextricably intertwined against the backdrop of the political and social upheaval of the era beginning with the rise of Hitler’s Germany,  spanning the Spanish Civil War and culminating in the Second World War and the rise of the atomic bomb.

This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz                                                                                                                              An outstanding contribution to contemporary fiction this collection of nine short stories by the Pulitzer Prize winning author Junot Diaz focuses on Love in all its different manifestations and forms. The stories touch readers through a moving portrayal of joy, suffering and beauty that envelops the complex characters portrayed in the stories.

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain                                                                                                                                         This engaging book is centered around Hadley Richardson who married Ernest Hemingway in  1921 when he was a striving writer and their life together in Paris during the era of the twenties. Based on painstaking research, the book evokes rich imagery of Paris and the social landscape dotted with literary giants like James Joyce, Ezra Pound , F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein.

Round House by Louise Erdrich                                                                                                                                      Winner of the 2012 National Book Award in fiction, the book highlights the injustices and violence that grips the Native Reservations through the story of a young teenage boy who sets out to investigate and seek justice for the attack on his mother in Yoknapatawpha, a fictional North Dakota Reservation and its surrounding towns.

The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers
Kevin Powers, a young soldier fighting in the Iraq War writes a powerful and haunting book that captures the horrors of the battlefields through the experiences of two young soldiers from Virginia. It also brings to life the irrevocable ties that hold together men who have sacrificed everything in service of their country.

-Nita Mathur