Five inspirational books to read over the Christmas holidays
Christmas is just around the corner, and for most this means a well-deserved break from work and routine. It’s also a time when we begin to reflect on the year that we’ve had, and consider our goals and resolutions for the year ahead. For these reasons, Christmas can be the perfect opportunity to dive into a new inspiring read. Regardless of what you do for a living, there is always much to be gained from reading about thought-provoking and unexplored subject matters, feeding off the ideas and creativity of successful writers and business people. So as the year draws to a close, we suggest kicking back with a glass of mulled wine, and possibly one of our suggested reads below… Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert Elizabeth Gilbert is probably best known for her memoir Eat, Pray, Love, which was published in over 30 languages and sold more than seven million copies worldwide. Her latest book, Big Magic: Creative Living beyond Fear, released in September, is a clever exploration of creativity. It’s full of wisdom and personal accounts, designed to shatter the perceptions of mystery and suffering that surround the creative process. Whether you long to write a book, create art, cope with challenges at work, or simply to make your everyday life more vivid and rewarding, Gilbert will challenge you to face your fears, and get on with it! It’s the perfect read for creatives. To get a flavour of the book, Gilbert’s TED Talk on the creative process, which has secured well over 10 million views, is well worth a watch: ‘Do No Harm’ by Henry Marsh After a stressful day at work, there’s nothing like reading about the chaos of working in a busy NHS hospital, as one of the UK’s top neurosurgeons, to help put things into perspective. Do No Harm is written by Henry Marsh, who was made a CBE in 2010. It’s striking honesty about the exhilarating drama of brain surgery, the agonising decisions that surround complex or hopeless cases, and the consequences when things go wrong, make it a truly memorable and thought provoking read. Marsh’s colourful and honest way of writing had us utterly gripped from the first page. He tells every patient story with compassion and candour, shining a light on a profession which is typically shrouded in mystery. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance Technology journalist Ashlee Vance was granted exclusive access to Elon Musk in order to tell the tumultuous stories of his vast array of companies: PayPal, Tesla Motors, SpaceX and SolarCity. Vance spent more than 50 hours in conversation with Musk and interviewed close to 300 people, in order to characterise a man who is one of Silicon Valley’s most driven entrepreneurs, and who is also the wealthiest person in LA. Vance uses Musk’s story to explore one of the pressing questions of our time: can the nation of inventors and creators which led the modern world for a century still compete in an age of fierce global competition? He argues that Musk, one of the most unusual and striking figures in American business history, is a contemporary amalgam of legendary inventors and industrialists like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Howard Hughes, and Steve Jobs. This is an incredibly inspiring book, which will challenge your work ethics and mindset. Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future by Martin Ford Rise of the Robots has received a lot of publicity, and scooped the 2015 FT & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award. Ford’s frank assessment of current and future directions in automation and machine intelligence pulls very few punches, and argues that as technology continues to accelerate and machines begin taking care of themselves, fewer people will be necessary. At one point, Ford cites an estimate that 50% of existing US jobs could be automated, and possibly another 25% outsourced or off-shored. Rise of the Robots is fascinating reading for anyone who wants to understand what accelerating technology means for their own economic prospects, for their children, and for society as a whole. ‘Sapiens: A brief History of Humankind’ by Dr Yuval Noah Harari In Sapiens, Harari delves deep into our history as a species and considers how we, homo sapiens, succeeded in the battle for dominance, and how we have developed into what we are today. Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations and human rights; to trust money, books and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come? Harari’s writing is witty and eloquent. It’s a truly engrossing read which you won’t want to put down, and will keep you thinking long past you’ve finished it. The scope of the book is immense, and if you are looking to be intellectually challenged and enlightened, outside of your career, this is the ideal read to pick up this Christmas.