Welcome to Part III of a special series of posts in the run up to the holiday season! (Read Part I here & Read Part II here) I asked some of the lovely authors that have previously appeared on the site about their Christmas book recommendations for this year. They graciously replied with some fantastic book picks! Hopefully these book recommendations might help you with your own Christmas shopping gift ideas too! :-)
Q. Is there a smart thinking book that you are looking forward to reading this Christmas, or one you would like to give or receive as a gift?
A book I read earlier this year, and which I will be recommending to all my friends, is Beyond Measure: The Hidden History of Measurement, by James Vincent. It’s a fascinating and absorbing exploration of a practice we take utterly for granted – measuring – but which has literally shaped our experience of the world. It’s beautifully written, vivid, and revealing – in equal measure.
Yes, I'm hoping to receive The Fight For Privacy: Protecting Dignity, Identity, and Love in the Digital Age, by Danielle Keats Citron. Citron's first book, Hate Crimes in Cyberspace, laid bare how inadequate the modern American legal system is for handling the hate espoused by millions online. In this new book, civil rights advocate Citron tackles how a lack of privacy online affects women and marginalised communities and argues that privacy ought to be a civil right underpinning our lives in the digital age. I can't wait to read it.
In this fractious age, we often plead for people to be more empathetic and compassionate - yet the words can feel hollow and empty. What does it even mean to "be kind"? And how can we best practise what we preach, when it seems that most other people acting in bad faith? Surely we need to look out for number one in this cut-throat world?
Claudia Hammond’s The Keys to Kindness (Canongate) comes with all the answers to these questions. She shows why many of us are needlessly cynical, when kindness already surrounds us. In her words: “Humanity outweighs inhumanity - we just need to open our eyes to it, and not be misled by the negativity that inevitably predominates in the news and social media.” Hammond shows why practising kindness benefits our physical and mental health, and reveals that altruism can even be a boon in business and politics. Crucially, she also offers us strategies to build our empathy and give others the care that they need. My favourite chapter concerns self-compassion. By being kind to ourselves, Hammond convincingly argues, we are in a better psychological state to help others.
As we face an increasingly depressing news cycle, The Keys to Kindness offers a much-needed antidote to the negativity around us, with the reassuring message that we can all contribute to a better world - and I hall be returning to it many times whenever I feel pessimism and cynicism seeping into my soul. It would be an act of kindness to buy this enlightening book for yourself and anyone you care about.
The Man Who Saved Britain by Simon Winder.
I came across this book as part of my research for Superspy Science and I loved it. The blend of personal anecdote, cultural analysis and historical context that Winder uses to look back on his relationship with the world of James Bond is brilliant. Written with much affection for the franchise, it is funny, informative and will give you a whole new perspective on 007 and his cinematic shenanigans. There seems to be a Bond film on TV every Christmas and this is definitely a book to have beside you while watching it.
Huge thanks & míle buíochas to David, Nina, David, & Kathryn for their great Christmas book picks!
Watch out next week for Part III of the series (Read Part I here & Read Part II here) with more author recommendations :-)
Image Copyrights: Faber & Faber (Beyond Measure), Penguin Books Ltd (About Time), Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (How To Be A Woman Online), Vintage Publishing (The Fight For Privacy), Canongate Books (The Keys To Kindness), Canongate Books (The Expectation Effect), Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (Superspy Science), Pan Macmillan (The Man Who Saved Britain)