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?
Heidi L. Maibom
The Language of the Goddess by Marija Gimbutas.
The stories of these three are gripping as is the story of Lvov, itself, through the dramas of the lives of these three Lvov-ites, who grew up near each other but never met. Philippe Sands is, himself, an eminent lawyer and academic in the UK, who knew his “French” grandparents, but not their painful past, about which, as with many survivors, they were silent. He digs into that past, as he digs into the lives of Lauterpacht and Lemkin and the effect their work and its evolution has had on what in the end became the Nuremberg trials and others since. And, in doing so, into the tale comes another strand: the Nazi, Hans Frank, the ‘ruler’ of Poland, once, indeed, the nation to which Lvov had belonged. Indeed, as he researches Frank he meets the son who, horrified by his father, helps Sands, and so becomes part of the story as well. The strands pull together at Frank’s trial, in Nuremberg: he is sentenced to death for ‘crimes against humanity’, an act that sought at least in principle to deliver justice for those, as from Lvov, from East West Street, murdered by Frank and his ilk, as well as for those who survived---like Buchholz, like Lauterpacht, like Lemkin-- whose lives as they had known them had been summarily demolished.
As I say, there is grim resonance for today, but also inspiration. It’s also a story of the human spirit playing out in these men’s rebuilt lives through the direst of times. And further in the passionate and dogged pursuit by two different displaced citizens of East West Street to establish frameworks that have enshrined decency and humanity, each defining a code of ethics for nations. It’s also a gripping read. Highly recommended.
Can I give you two books, one fiction and one non-fiction?
The best novel I’ve read—and reread—in the past few seasons is Matrix, by Lauren Groff.
The best piece of non-fiction I’ve read, if you needed another choice, is Islands of Abandonment, by Cal Flyn.
I just finished – and loved – In Memoriam: A Novel, by Alice Winn. It's not necessarily the happiest book, but it's quite wonderful (and British) and will stick with me for a long time.
I would love the new Mary Beard book about the Roman Empire, Emperor of Rome as a gift - shows women think about the Roman Empire too!
Huge thanks to Heidi, Janet, Pico, Charles, & Eleanor for their great Christmas book picks!
Watch out next week for Part II of the series next week with more author recommendations :-)
Image Copyrights: Thames & Hudson Ltd (The Language of the Goddess), Oxford University Press Inc (The Space Between), Orion Publishing Co (East West Street), Cornerstone (Matrix), HarperCollins Publishers (Islands of Abandonment), Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (Good Relations, The Half Known Life), Penguin Books Ltd (In Memoriam), Hodder & Stoughton (Defeating The Dictators), Profile Books Ltd (Emperor of Rome), Quarto Publishing PLC (Thanks for Sharing).