Welcome to a special series of posts in the run up to the holiday season! 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?
Here goes: Influence Is Your Superpower: The Science of Winning Hearts, Sparking Change, and Making Good Things Happen by Zoe Chance.
If you think only the most charismatic people can influence others, and you’re not that charismatic – you’re wrong.
If you think ‘influence’ is the same as ‘manipulation’ and it leads to negative results – you’re wrong.
And if you want to be that person who influences others, and does that to increase good in the world, in a science-based manner – you absolutely must read Influence Is Your Superpower: The Science of Winning Hearts, Sparking Change, and Making Good Things Happen.
Zoe Chance, a Yale business professor wrote this clear, compelling guide for exerting influence. Just a tiny demonstration of her approachability comes from the terms she coined to describe how we process information. What Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman calls System 1 and System 2, she calls ‘The Gator’ – depicting our minds as a lazy creature interested mainly in survival, and ‘The Judge’ – when we take the trouble to perform elaborate judgments. From there it only gets better, with stories of love, and influencing the elections in Tunisia (I know, right?). It’s a book by a brilliant scientist, who managed to write it both for anyone craving a great business book on influence, and for anyone who knows they need it but feel iffy about changing others’ behavior.
Effective, informative, and fun! Enough to please gators and judges alike.
How about: Hothouse Earth: An Inhabitant's Guide by Bill Mcguire
Relevant as COP27 is taking place very soon.
Lucy Jane Santos
My recommendation is The Facemaker by Lindsey Fitzharris as is a gory, heartbreakingly poignant, and fascinating story told by a historian at the top of their game.
I will definitely be giving this to my friends this Christmas and would urge people to do the same to theirs!
Falling in love is easy. Loving all of humanity is much harder. But neither are possible if you don’t love yourself, not in a trite self-help way, but in the sense of deep self knowing and respect. Erich Fromm is one of my favourite writers. His work is a refreshing combination of deeply incisive theories and compassion.
This book is as relevant and enduring as it was in the post-Second World War era in which he wrote it. Those terrible times prompted some of the century’s best thinkers to try and answer the problems of human psychology. This book might not be what you expect; it’s a practical guide to love, but one which involves introspection and discipline. It’s also an answer to the greatest existential questions. Without love there is nothing, so you should learn the art of loving.
The Philosophy of Modern Song by Bob Dylan.
I’ve only seen Bob Dylan twice in live concerts, but I have spun plenty of his disks and there’s no question that he played a powerful role in shaping my consciousness. My awareness of him began in 1964, when his protest song “The Times They Are A-Changin”” came out and I was just 12 years old. The first-stanza lyrics were a wakeup call for society, and they stirred an optimism in me that has never died.
Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’
Those words seem to be even more relevant today than they were in the early 1960s—now that we have to deal with climate change and sea level rise. They demonstrate the enduring power of music and song.
Dylan’s new book, The Philosophy of Modern Song just dropped, and it’s fascinating to learn how he thinks about 66 great songs of the modern era—from Blues, R&B, and Soul, to Folk, Country, Jazz, Rock, Punk, and Pop. In a series of short essays, Dylan’s words are by turns poignant, biting, silly, absurd, impenetrable, and revolutionary, just like his lyrics. I recommend it as a holiday gift for somebody with exquisitely good taste.
In the book, Dylan doesn’t lay out a grand theory of song, but the pages are peppered with delightful and penetrating observations. One line close to the end serves as something of a coda: Music, he writes, “is of a time but also timeless; a thing with which to make memories and the memory itself.” I have only one regret about the book: that he doesn’t write about Robert Johnson’s “Cross Road Blues.” Both Johnson and Dylan are thought by some to have made deals with the devil at a crossroads to gain their musical superpowers. I wonder what Dylan makes of that.
The book I would recommend is We're All Climate Hypocrites Now by Sami Grover.
I'm about half way through it and it is really great at navigating the balance between what we should and shouldn't feel responsible and guilty about as individuals when dealing with climate change.
Huge thanks & míle buíochas to Talya, David, Lucy, Laura, Steve, & Matt for their great Christmas book picks!
Watch out next week for Part I of the series with more author recommendations :-)
Image Copyrights: Ebury Publishing (Influence Is Your Superpower), Basic Books (Your Life Depends on It), Saraband (Extraction To Extinction), Icon Books (Hothouse Eart), Penguin Books Ltd (The Facemaker), Pinter & Martin Ltd. (A State Of Fear), HarperCollins Publishers (The Art of Loving), Columbia University Press (The Pivot), Simon & Schuster Ltd (The Philosophy of Modern Song), Headline Publishing Group (Hot Mess), New Society Publishers (We're All Climate Hypocrites Now)