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5 great books for holiday ‘you time’


The holidays offer some time to unwind and recalibrate before the calendar flips to the new year. If you enjoy reading, here are five recommendations we hope will resonate with you, inspire you, and maybe move you into the New Year with just a little more insight and enthusiasm.

The holidays have a shelf life - some time to unwind and recalibrate before the calendar flips to the new year. If you enjoy reading, it’s a great time to set aside research journals and pick up something just for you.

Here are five recommendations we hope will resonate with you, inspire you, and maybe move you into the New Year with just a little more insight and enthusiasm.





THE BOOK: “Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance” by Marcus Buckingham

THE REASON: You appreciate leadership. You’ll get more out of yourself and your staff.

Many folks assume excellence is the opposite of failure, and that a deeper understanding of one can bring about a similar understanding of the other. That’s why companies study unhappy customers to learn about contented ones, and managers responsible for performance reviews probe employees’ weaknesses to learn how to make them excel.

“That’s bloody crazy, chaps,” British-born Marcus Buckingham might say. Widely considered one of the world’s leading authorities on employee productivity, the author and speaker believes companies are much better off when they focus on cultivating employees’ strengths rather than improving their weaknesses. He has interesting data and anecdotes to back it up.

This book is an articulate, introspective how-to plan for maximizing your team’s strong suits. It’s a shot of perspective for anyone trying to improve staff morale and productivity.






THE BOOK: “This Explains Everything” by John Brockman

THE REASON: You appreciate clarity. You’ll digest big ideas made elegantly simple.

The leading minds in areas such as evolutionary biology, genetics, economics, computer science, psychology and physics have a lot to say these days, and their new ways of thinking call into question many basic assumptions in those fields. This book takes big ideas and explains them with refreshing simplicity.

For this book, the author posed one question to the world’s best scientific minds, hoping to inspire unpredictable and interesting answers: What is your favorite deep, elegant or beautiful explanation? The collection of answers is enlightening and fun, making some of the most complex concepts easy to comprehend. You can spend five minutes with this book, or all day, and enjoy the experience.






THE BOOK: “The Art of Drowning” by Billy Collins

THE REASON: You appreciate humor. You’ll laugh and think at the same time.

Even if you couldn’t stand poetry in high school, you might enjoy these poems. Collins is equal parts funny and smart, his lines are plain and melodic, and this collection published in 1995 solidified his place on the literary map (and his later post as U.S. Poet Laureate.) If you’re looking to give your heart and your head a simultaneous spark, flip to any of these 49 poems.

Funny verse can also be moving and important, and these poems show Collins at his friendly-yet-thinky best. The subject matter is wide-ranging - the first inkling of mortality on his 10th birthday, how the first human might have experienced a dream, calendar pinups and much more. It feels like someone is helping you discover the wonders around your hometown. Celebrations, fears, memories and self-inflated thoughts are all wrapped in a gentle, humorous tone.






THE BOOK: “Practical Negotiating: Tools, Tactics & Techniques” by Tom Gosselin

THE REASON: You appreciate strategy. You’ll become a more skilled communicator.

Negotiations occur all the time - at the office, on the phone, perhaps even with your uncle at the Thanksgiving table.

In all situations where two respected sides want something different, the real goal of negotiating isn’t to gain the upper hand, the author says. It’s to shake hands - to execute a strategy where both sides leave feeling satisfied.

But that’s easier said than done. The best aspect of this book is its chronological structure. It takes you on an insightful trip that begins with introspection (ways to identify the goals of all parties) and ends with application (useful tactics). Rather than painting negotiations as a dog-eat-dog art, Gosselin provides a step-by-step framework you can apply at work and at home.






THE BOOK: “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot

THE REASON: You appreciate healthcare. You’ll reconnect with its power while considering ethical questions.

The book’s central figure is Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as “HeLa.” She was a poor, black tobacco farmer whose cells (removed without her consent during a biopsy) became one of medicine’s most critical tools - vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, in vitro fertilization and more.

Scientists have grown some 50 million metric tons of her cells, and you can get some for yourself simply by calling an 800 number. Yet her family still can’t afford health insurance.

This book is a riveting story about the collision between ethics and medicine, the interplay between poverty and science, and a daughter’s quest to learn more about a mother she never knew. 

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