The Washington DC area just got its first, real snow of the winter, making us long for a cozy chair, a cup of tea, and good book to enjoy (rather than the crazy commute many Washingtonians had to endure.) Despite the lack of an official snow day, it got us thinking about winter reading, watching, and listening recommendations. (If you’re currently sitting on a beach somewhere,
.) We asked colleagues for a few suggestions and we’ve compiled a collection of other lists from around the web – so if one of your New Year’s resolutions is to read more, you have no excuses! (And you know what page to bookmark for when a real snow day occurs.)
ICRC staff recommendations:
Geneva-based ICRC Head of Operations, Dominik Stillhart: "I recommend the book ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’. It came out a couple of years ago but I read it in 2014 and really enjoyed it. It's written by Daniel Kahneman, an American-Israeli psychologist, who shared the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, which is quite remarkable. In the book, he writes about the psychology of judgment, decision making, and behavioral economics. Essentially, he says that human beings are of two minds and that while most people would like to think that their decisions are made by their ‘rational brain,’ the majority of the decisions we make are based on emotion and experience. That's quite contrary to mainstream Western thinking. It's a worthwhile read. He also did a TEDtalk along the same lines."
ICRC DC Public and Congressional Affairs Advisor, Trevor Keck: “One of the first articles I read in the New Year was ‘10 Wars to Watch in 2015’ by Jean-Marie Guehnno, the head of International Crisis Group. As always, this annual analysis of the world`s scariest conflicts from the head of arguably the best international conflict prevention organization is superb. In terms of books, I am currently reading ‘National Security and Double Government,’ by my former graduate school professor, Michael Glennon, which is a unique, well-researched, fascinating critique of the US security policy-making process. Glennon argues that key US security policies haven’t changed from the Bush to Obama Administration, and offers a compelling theory for this policy continuity. For lighter reading, I highly recommend ‘Gone Girl,’ which is a quick, fun, easy read from the NYT bestseller list; the movie was also fantastic."
ICRC DC Chief Legal Advisor, Christopher Harland: “I would recommend the book ‘The Wonga Coup’, by Adam Roberts, which describes Simon Mann's failed March 2004 coup d'état in Equatorial Guinea. The author, an Economist correspondent then based in South Africa, writes a fascinating, well-researched account of, as the subtitle puts it, 'Guns, Thugs, and a Ruthless Determination to Create Mayhem in an Oil-Rich Corner of Africa’. I was also entertained last year by Lawfare's Podcast number 89, ‘Bone-Crushing Zombie Action’, a Halloween-timed examination of the difficult IHL and related legal issues that would result from an attack by the undead."
ICRC DC Spokeswoman & Intercross Editor, Anna Nelson: “I’m reading ‘Deep Down Dark’ by Chilean author Héctor Tobar, who tells the story of the rescue of 33 Chilean miners who were trapped underground for weeks back in 2010. Normally, it’s not the kind of book I’d automatically pick up but one of my favorite authors, Ann Patchett, chose it as the first read for NPR/Morning Edition’s inaugural book club, which prompted me to get a copy from Kramer Books. So far, it’s an excellent read and Tobar really succeeds in making you feel as if you witnessed the disaster and despair yourself. I bought a copy for my father in MN and we’re reading it at the same time. I also sent him a copy of ‘When Books Went to War’ by Molly Guptill Manning, about a campaign by librarians outraged by the banning and burning of over 100 million books during World War II, so they found a way to send more than 120 million paperpacks to American troops stationed overseas in 1943.”
ICRC DC Public and Congressional Affairs Advisor, Anthony Abate: "I'm currently re-reading ‘East of Eden’ – John Steinbeck's classic tribute to California and redemption. There's little I can say about the book that hasn't been said before, but I would recommend it to anyone looking for an exemplary piece of American fiction. I was never assigned a better book in school, and some 12 years later it's once again making an impact on me."
Here’s a roundup of recommendations from elsewhere on the web:
The A.V. Club said 2014 was an “odd year for books, usually the quiet introspective cousin at the pop culture family gatherings.” (Not sure we agree with that statement, but we enjoyed their top picks.)
The NYT’s special year-end edition of Bookends asked all of its 15 columnists to share their favorite reading experience of 2014.The NYT also came up with a list of books that would have made great holiday gifts. (To our dismay, we’ve noticed that the stores are already decorated for Valentine’s Day, so if you’re dating a bookworm, go ahead and get a jump on next month’s shopping.)
We’re totally biased because we’re currently working on a very cool project with StoryCorps (and we’re also huge TED fans) but we highly recommend this TED post featuring StoryCorps founder and 2015 TED Prize winner, David Isay, who discusses the most fascinating real people of 2014.
The Golden Globes air this Sunday so you might also want to check out The New Yorker’s analysis of last year’s best cinematic work to see how the nominees stack up.The New Yorker also came up with a list of the best cultural moments in 2014.
Mashable’s editors handpicked the most striking images of 2014 – from parched earth and supermoons to clashing protestors and children injured by conflict. Warning: some of the pics are graphic.
And finally, we’ll end by injecting a bit of levity. Cutesy blog, Boredpanda, features 18 of the best entries to the 2015 Sony World Photography Awards. (Seriously, no matter how hardcore your job is, don’t you just love an orangutan in the rain?) And speaking of pandas, while the rest of us where stuck in snarled rush hour traffic or walking to work this morning due to the snow, over at the Smithsonian National Zoo, baby Bao Bao and her Mom were far from bored... they were having a grand time playing in the white stuff. You're welcome.