Great Reads for the Winter Holidays

With the winter holidays right around the corner, now is a great time to update your reading (or shopping) list with some recent notable titles.

Whether you’re looking for recommendations for gifts for family or friends, some page-turners to add to your own Amazon Wishlist, or even some audiobooks to download before you hit the road to visit relatives over the holidays, read on for a selection of must-reads that will keep you up to speed on current issues even as you unwind and enjoy some vacation down-time.

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J.D. Vance

This 2016 New York Times bestseller is a mix of memoir and an exposition of “hillbilly” culture, drawing on stories from author J.D. Vance’s Appalachian childhood and wrestling with the economic instability, despair, and other challenges of the impoverished white inhabitants of rural America. A page turner, J.D. Vance’s writing style brings you into his world.

Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic, Sam Quinones

Former Los Angeles Times reporter Sam Quinones chronicles the alarming rise in the overprescription of painkillers such as OxyContin and the influx of black tar heroin from Mexico that have contributed to our country’s current opioid crisis. A riveting account of addiction in suburban and rural small-town America, this award-winning book makes a great companion piece to The Policy Circle’s new brief, “The Opioid Epidemic.”

The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, Masha Gessen

Winner of the 2017 National Book Award in Nonfiction, The Future is History is a gripping and disturbing history of totalitarianism in Russia, illustrated through the lives of seven Russian individuals of varying ages and backgrounds. Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen explores the psychological and sociological ramifications of Soviet-era repression for the USSR’s citizens, the promise of democracy under Gorbachev’s reform policies of perestroika and glasnost in the 1980s, and the return to totalitarianism under the autocratic Putin regime of today.

I Was Told to Come Alone: My Journey Behind the Lines of Jihad, by Souad Mekhennet

In this autobiographical book — one of the Washington Post’s Best Books of 2017” picks — national security correspondent Souad Mekhennet details her harrowing experiences reporting from “behind the lines of jihad,” interviewing al Qaeda, ISIS, and Taliban leaders. Mekhennet offers a fascinating glimpse into some of the ideological and circumstantial motivations of Islamic extremism.

Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters, by Erica Komisar

As the Wall Street Journal recently noted, Manhattan-based psychoanalyst Erica Komisar’s new book stirred controversy with its premise, “backed by research in psychology, neuroscience and epigenetics,” that “ ‘mothers are biologically necessary for babies.’” In

Komisar’s words, “babies are much more emotionally fragile than we’ve ever understood” and mothers serve as “the central nervous system to babies.” According to her findings, this means that “mothers need to be there as much as possible, both physically and emotionally, for children in the first 1,000 days.” Drawing extensively on both academic research and Komisar’s firsthand experience working as a clinical social worker and psychoanalyst, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in ongoing discussions about motherhood and the complicated choices facing women who are balancing careers and caregiving.

If I Knew Then What I Know Now: Secrets to Career Success from Top Women Leaders

By Erin Wolf

Erin Wolf was one of the keynote speakers at the 2017 Policy Circle Leadership Summit. She is the founding partner at Suite Tracks, a firm specializing in leadership coaching for executives. Erin is committed to supporting women break through the glass ceiling and assume leadership roles. Her little book is an easy read, full of real-life examples and actionable ideas. A great gift for young graduates and for yourself.

End of Discussion by Guy Benson and MaryKatharine Ham

This book gives new lenses to see the outrage circus that often spins out of control in the news and in communities. A fun read that will give you the courage to push back and continue the discussion.

Breaking through Gridlock: the Power of Conversation by Jason Jay and Gabriel Grant

The authors from MIT Sloan School of Management presents an easy to apply framework to engage in civil dialog on any topic. A great approach to make a policy discussion productive.