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13 books you won’t be able to put down

Looking for a good read for the vacation? Or maybe for some gift ideas for the holiday season? The HUTAC Board members have put together a list of books that left a mark on them. Browse through, make your choice and let us know what inspired you the most!

438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival at Sea

By Jonathan Franklin

A true story of a fisherman, Salvador Alvarenga, who got lost off the coast of Mexico in November 2012 and survived in the Pacific Ocean for 438 days, until he was rescued in January 2014. The book gives a thrilling insight into the real life of a castaway survivor. It describes his amazing journey, surviving on raw meat and drinking his own urine, and fighting with sharks and the harsh weather.

Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China

By Evan Osnos

If you’re interested in contemporary Chinese society, this book is a must-read. Written by former New Yorker’s China correspondent Evan Osnos, it won the US National Award for Non-fiction in 2014.

Capital in the Twenty-First Century

By Thomas Piketty

A New York Times’ best seller in 2014, this book focuses on wealth and income inequality in Europe and the United States since the 18th century, and points out that the current political-economic system and the concentration of capital is the primary cause of inequality. The author uses historical data and provides solutions to a lot of ongoing problems.

Lean in: Women, Work and the Will to Lead

By Sheryl Sandberg

Following her successful TED talk, ‘Why we have too few women leaders’ (watched 6.7 million times), Sandberg wrote a truly inspiring book that draws attention to the gender differences persisting in the workplace and at home today. While acknowledging the huge need for systemic changes, the book also attempts to shift the conversation from what women can’t do to what they can do. By using hard data, personal anecdotes and lessons learnt on her way up, Facebook’s COO offers sharp and practical solutions for women to ‘lean in’ and ‘sit at the table’. In an exquisite way, she encourages both women and men to shatter the gender myths learnt in the early stages and work together for a more equal world.

Lonely Planet’s Guide to the World

“Travelling is, to my mind, the most worthwhile use of one’s money”, says Catalina Iorga, HUTAC’s President. This book lists the top sights and experiences from most countries around the world. It’s perfect for planning the itinerary of your next adventure. Or just plain old daydreaming.

Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know: The Autobiography of Ranulph Fiennes

By Ranulph Fiennes

Ranulph Fiennes is a professional explorer and a brilliant writer with a good sense of humour. Among his many accomplishments, he was the first person to reach both the Antarctic and Arctic poles with no support from land. He ran 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents and now in his 70s, he remains an active adventurer raising money for charities. Read his book and get inspired by his determination and perseverance in pursuing his ambitions.

Memory Chalet

By Tony Judt

Tony Judt is well known for his studies of post-war European history. But this book is different from all his other work. In 2008, he found out he had a disease that was about to trap his extraordinary mind and immobilize his body. Therefore, he started this book and everything is as simply and beautifully arranged as a Swiss chalet – a reassuring refuge, deep in the mountains of memory.

Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice

By Bill Browder

This is the true story of Bill Browder, an American-born, British accidental activist, who founded the largest foreign investor company in Russia. However, as he got to be exposed to corruption among Russian oligarchs, he was banned from the country and his lawyer ended up in jail and was tortured to death. Browder succeeded in having a law passed in the US, that punishes the people involved in his lawyer’s murder; law to which Putin retaliated with a law that bans Americans from adopting Russian orphans. Browder still lives in hiding.

The Circle 

By Dave Eggers

A sobering read that imagines a not-so-distant future when privacy is gone, and all social activities must be quantified and shared. The novel’s eponymous company may be an unlikely combination of Google and Facebook, but the dangers of an always plugged-in life are real.

The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature

By David George Haskell

A biologist visits the same square meter of forest almost every day for a whole year. His observations bring the inhabitants of the forest to life in a way that makes you walk through nature with more mindful eyes next time. “What makes this book my favourite read is that Haskell brings his brilliant storytelling one step – or maybe even several steps – further by giving us a fascinating, yet scientific glimpse into the intricate working of the ecosystem, evolution and the way we, humans, interact with nature”, says Melinda Vigh, HUTAC Secretary. Each lyrical short story is a journey of discovery of how amazing our world really is.

The Gifts of Imperfection

By Brené Brown

In addition to being based on extensive research, what is great about this book is the author’s use of personal anecdotes on how she built shame resilience. This is a great book for anyone struggling with perfectionism and believing they are not enough. As Brene reminds us, “Healthy striving is self-focused: “How can I improve?” Perfectionism is other-focused: “What will they think?”

Thinking, Fast and Slow

By Daniel Kahneman

Kahneman, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, shines a light on the two human modes of thought: System 1, fast, instinctive, intuitive and largely unconscious; and System 2, slower, deliberative, rational and analytical. By talking about cognitive biases (unconscious reasoning errors that distort our judgement), the anchoring effect (the tendency to be influenced by irrelevant numbers we are exposed to) and hedonic psychology (the science of happiness), the book explains how the two systems shape our judgments. It will surprise you with examples of human irrationality and after having read it, you will realise how it’s improving your everyday life.


By Knut Hamsun

Melinda Vigh, HUTAC Secretary: “I found this book by accident during my holiday around the birthplace of the author, in Northern Norway. I was fascinated by how the story of a poor Norwegian fishing village around 1900s still has a bite in our modern society. Following the compelling story of Edevart, a talented fisher turned sailor turned salesmen who travels the country, we learn about the struggles of coastal villagers to earn a living and come to terms with an industrialising world, and how a sudden bout of good fortune has the power to corrupt the otherwise poor and modest villagers. In a nutshell, Nobel Prize laureate Hamsun tells the story of human nature with comic irony and a charming and entertaining style.”

What’s on your list of must-read books? Let us know in the comments below!


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