We couldn’t agree more with Dr. Seuss! Reading doesn’t only help us learn new things and explore new worlds and ideas, but also provides emotional and psychological benefits. Reading can serve as a great source of motivation, reduce stress, and simply give us joy and pleasure. We will take all of the above, please!
Reading might also have been a great escape for some during this pandemic. As such, we would like to share a few “Good Reads” that our team has enjoyed recently. Happy Reading!
“The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah
By Elena Ladygina
This unforgettable novel of love and strength in the face of war will appeal to everyone. It has been the #1 New York Times bestseller and soon to be a major motion picture. This epic panorama of WWII illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, and each taking their own paths to survive and find freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France. It was inspired by the story of a Belgian woman, Andrée de Jongh, who helped downed Allied pilots to escape Nazi territory.
This book had a personal appeal to me as I grew up hearing WWII stories from my grandparents in Russia. My grandmother worked at a Siberian factory serving the war effort. My grandfather drove the supply trucks across the frozen lake to bring provisions and food during the Siege of Leningrad and ultimately went to Berlin to see the surrender on May 9th, 1945. As I read this beautiful novel, I recalled my grandparents’ unbelievable stories of perseverance and survival, and it reminded me yet again of the resilience of the human spirit and the strength of family ties. The reminders that could be especially auspicious today!
“The Great influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History” by John Barry
By Thomas Farrell
Obviously one of the most relevant topics to read over the last twelve months. As expected, the author details the rapid and violent spread of influenza in 1918 and its devasting effects on towns and cities across America. However, the book also illustrates how primitive and disjointed the state of medicine and public health policy was in our country just about 100 years ago. Add in military bases packed with hundreds of thousands of US soldiers training in close quarters during World War I and you have the perfect recipe for a worldwide disaster.
“In Praise of Difficult Women” by Karen Karbo
By Ann Schnorrenberg
Sometimes we get caught up in our views about how people ought to behave. This happened to me several months ago when my daughter and I were watching some reality show. I commented on one contestant’s behavior which I thought was rather abrasive. My daughter responded that not all women have to be nice. She was right. While the other contestants dilly-dallied, this woman took charge, made a plan and moved the team toward its goal.
Thus, when I came across the book “In Praise of Difficult Women”, I had to sample the book. It captured me right away. Written by Karen Karbo, she defines a difficult woman as “a person who believes her needs, passions and goals are at least as important as those of everyone around her”. The book is about twenty-nine women who lived their lives according to their own standards, refusing to be limited by societal expectations. It includes women such as Shonda Rhimes, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Billie Jean King. Each is characterized by some trait that is not traditionally encouraged in women. Yet, it is these specific characteristics that helped them achieve success. The book is written with wry humor, embracing the women’s flaws as well as accomplishments. This is an inspiring book that encourages us to accept and support all the women around us.
“Never Split the Difference” by Chris Voss
By James Ferrare
Never Split the Difference, written by Chris Voss a former international FBI hostage negotiator. The lessons may be partly intuitive and sometimes actually the opposite. For starters, splitting the difference is debunked. Think about negotiating with a hostage situation; Bank Robber:“ I am going to kill all four hostages. Negotiator: “How about you kill two and we let you go”. Aim to get a “that’s right” rather than a quick “yes”-which sometimes is only a “counterfeit” yes and there is no real buy in. Getting a “no” in a negotiation can be advantageous-who knew. It creates an opportunity for a logical, deeper conversation and greater chance of achieving your goals. Better to listen—why do so few people begin by listening and waiting for “their” opening. Another small but good find in the book is the best ways to use the words “how” and “why”. There is much more that makes this a good read, especially if it’s time to negotiate your annual raise with The Boss!
“A Promised Land” by Barak Obama and “Becoming” by Michelle Obama
By Becky Brindle
While taking walks through my neighborhood this winter I listened to Barak Obama read his recent book, “A Promised Land”, followed by Michelle Obama’s reading of her book, “Becoming”. Both authors tell their life story from childhood to their years in the White House, and both are engaging storytellers. It was interesting to discover what each author revealed about their years together, and the different observations each made about shared events.
The reader gains insights into their lives in the White House as the first Black President and First Lady, as well as the challenges of leading the country during the years of the Great Recession. Hearing the authors’ stories in their own voices transports the reader to the rooms where history happened. For me, this was a fascinating escape from our pandemic winter.
“The Success Principles” by Jack Canfield
By Monica Jalife
Usually I am quite skeptical of the thousands of self-help books out there that promise you the “secret recipe” to get to where you want to be. As I read this book, I was pleasantly surprised by the concepts it presented and the many practical ways of applying them to our daily lives. Viewed differently, what stuck out to me the most is the practicality of the book and how the “principles” can be applied to basically any goal, whether that means getting to be the top salesperson in your company, becoming a leading architect, scoring straight A’s in school, losing weight, buying a dream home, or making millions of dollars, to name a few. As you might already suspect, there is no “secret recipe” for success and fulfilling your goals, but rather hard work, accountability, perseverance, and a series of deliberate steps to help you reach that point. The success principles can serve as a tool to help you craft an action plan to get there.
“The Bitcoin Standard: A Decentralized Alternative to Central Banking” by Saifedean Ammous
By Adam C. Armstrong
Despite the title, the book isn’t as much about Bitcoin as you would think. Afterall, to really understand Bitcoin is to understand the history of money. From cavemen and early civilizations bartering with food and seashells, to the Rai stones on the Island of Yap serving as the first “public ledger”, to silver, gold and now through fiat money, The Bitcoin Standard takes us through the historical evolution of currencies. Why does a dollar or Euro or Peso have value? What qualities make money “good” or “bad”? While a bit dense at points, you’ll understand everything you ever wanted to know about money.
Of course, Ammous eventually makes the case for Bitcoin potentially being the best kind of money to date while posing valid questions about its major flaws, but it’s an educational journey worth exploring for those who either want to understand Bitcoin better or simply confirm a bias they may already have.