It’s that time of year again. Christmas is over, winter is in full swing & it’s cold and dark outside… (at least for those living in the Northern hemisphere). If you’re feeling the need to lounge on your couch or crawl into bed for the next 4 months, here are some books that will take you far away and help beat the winter blues!

  1. Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts

    Autobiographical novel that’s filled with adventures and has a philosophical twist to it. A convicted Australian bank robber & former heroin addict escapes from an Australian prison in the 1980’s and flees to India. He sets up a free clinic in a Bombay slum, joins the mafia, falls hopelessly in love, works as a forger & money launderer… The list of illegal activities & undercover adventures goes on and on. I purchased this 800+ pages long book in Vietnam and couldn’t put it down for days. I changed all my travel plans just so I’d be able to lie on the beach and read. Give it 100 pages or so and I guarantee you’ll be just as hooked as I was. Spoiler alert: the sequel “The Mountain Shadow” isn’t worth reading.

  2. Oryx & Crake, by Margaret Atwood

    This is easy-to-read, speculative fiction that will make you think! I greatly enjoyed reading it over Christmas despite its depressive narrative and ending. The novel’s main character may be the last human in a world that has been destroyed by corporations engaging in uncontrolled genetic engineering. He is struggling to survive while mourning the loss of his best friend Crake and the girl he loved, Oryx. As the story unfolds, you learn what led to the horrific state the world is in… Be prepared for a grand finale. The book will make you reflect on how our actions are destroying our planet and how far we should go. Are we playing God? The depicted future looks bleak.

  3. The Girl Who Beat ISIS, by Andrea C. Hoffman & Farida Khalaf

    Similar to “I am Malala“, this book focuses on current affairs and will put your problems into perspective! In 2014, Farida’s village became an ISIS target: jihadists murdered her male friends and relatives & took her prisoner along with other women. What follows is the gruesome tale of what happens during her captivity… the rapes, the markets where she is sold like cattle, the beatings and – finally – her successful escape. You’ll gain a better understanding of the tragedy that many people from Northern Iraq have lived through over the past few years, and celebrate a young girl’s courage. I put this book down feeling eternally grateful for having grown up in a stable & peaceful country.

  4. Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Own Success, by Adam Grant

    Perhaps something a bit more uplifting & insightful! I usually hate reading business books (I have enough business talk at work and would much rather dive into a different world while reading) but this one is both entertaining and useful. Grant explains how the world is made up of people who give, take, match or fake and why those who succeed don’t take or match. You’ll learn what drives givers’ success – I hope this will help you get to the next level!

  5. 40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World, by Howard G. Buffet

    If you’re an idealist and would love to work on something that has a lasting positive impact and does good, check out this biography/memoir. Howard Buffet gives an account of his long battle against food insecurity and will inspire you to take action. You’ll put this book down and be ready to make plans that ensure you make the most of your 40 chances. You’ll start considering what you can do to make things better (think: elephants!). This is a book that has the power to transform the way you think and perceive the world but is yet entertaining and easy to digest. Perfect for a leisurely Sunday afternoon.