The Holiday Season is around the corner and the pace of our day-to-day responsibilities will hopefully start to slow down. We will have more time to relax and do the activities we enjoy but that we often neglect due to the hectic nature of the modern world. If you feel like you want to read but don’t know what to choose, here are ten suggestions that might whet your literary appetite.
1. Eric Ngalle: One Man’s Journey Crossing Continents, by Eric Ngalle
I heard Eric Ngalle tell his story at the 2020’s Hay Festival and was stunned by his resilience. I had to read his book. Born in Cameroon, he managed to get a scholarship to study economics in Belgium. When the plane lands he realizes he’s nowhere near any of the airports in Belgium. In Russia, with his passport stolen, Eric Ngalle had to endure nearly two years in a hostile environment as an illegal immigrant, but he learned the language and found a way to survive. Readers will also learn of the betrayal that tore his family apart and prompted him to leave Cameroon.
2. The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition, by Jonathan Tepper and Denise Hearn
How has the US gone from an open, competitive marketplace to an economy where a few very powerful companies dominate key industries that affect our daily lives. We have the illusion of choice, but for most critical decisions, we have only one or two companies. When it comes to high speed Internet, health insurance, medical care, mortgage title insurance, social networks, Internet searches, or even consumer goods like toothpaste, the choice is in fact limited. Why is there more inequality, why the number of start-ups has declined?
3. Nonsense, by Jamie Holmes
For most of us, managing ambiguity in and daily lives, is not something that comes naturally. We’re continually bombarded with information, much of it contradictory. Our brains are wired to avoid uncertainty, we seek resolution to ambiguous situation — what some researches have called “the need for closure”. In Nonsense, Holmes argues that our need for closure could us stick to the most easily available answer, which might not always the best. Confusion, he proposes, has a hidden upside. The author has collected new insights from social psychology and cognitive science that have deepened our understanding of the role of ambiguity in our lives.
4. Intimations, Zadie Smith
A collection of six essays about creativity, love, death, justice, identity. The book was inspired by Smith’s discovery of Marcus Aurelius’s classic Meditations, on which she leaned to steady herself in these staggering times but which failed to make of her a Stoic, driving her, as the world’s gaps and failings drive us restive makers, to make what meets the unmet need — a contemporary counterpart to these ancient private meditations of timeless public resonance.
5. By Night the Mountain Burns, by Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel
By Night The Mountain Burns recounts the narrator’s childhood on a remote island off the West African coast, living with his mysterious grandfather, several mothers and no fathers. Superstition abounds. Avila Laurel is Equatorial Guinea’s most important living writer. He’s often been persecuted by his own state for his outspokenness about the disregard of human rights in the country.
6. The Rage: The Vicious Circle of Islamist and Far-Right Extremism, by Julia Ebner
The Rage explores the interaction between the ‘new’ far right and Islamist extremists and considers the consequences for the global terror threat. By looking at extremist movements both online and offline, the author shows how far right and Islamist extremists have succeeded in penetrating each other’s echo chambers as a result of their mutually useful messages. The book relies on a collection of insightful interviews through which the author introduces readers to the world of reciprocal radicalization that have developed in the UK, Europe and the US.
7. The Undocumented Americans, by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
Cornejo Villavicencio explores the lives of the undocumented—and the mysteries of her own life. The author was on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA, when she decided to write about being undocumented. She describes the lives of so many people wanting to find a better life but who nonetheless wound up feeling trapped.
8. Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men, by Caroline Criado Pérez
Caroline Criado Perez has collected an impressive range of case studies, stories and new research from across the world that illustrate the hidden ways in which women are forgotten, and the impact this has on their health and well-being. The book exposes the gender data gap that has created a pervasive yet invisible bias which has a profound effect on women’s lives. Invisible Women reveals the biased data that excludes women.
9. Fierce Attachments, by Vivian Gornick,
In Fierce Attachments, Vivian Gornick tells the story of her lifelong battle with her mother for independence. Gornick walks with her aged mother through the streets of New York, arguing and remembering the past, the life in a tiny apartment surrounded by neighbors from the Old World, most of them Jewish. The author is able to be both, critical and loving about the relationship with her mother.
10. What You Are Going Through, by Sigrid Nunez
In What You Are Going Through, the female narrator describes a series of encounters with friends and strangers who all have one thing in common: They are desperate to talk about themselves. The result is a deeply compassionate book about death, modern life, and human connection.