What to Read This Winter Break

The holiday break is often a good time to catch up on your reading. So, what’s out there? 

We asked several members of the Georgia Tech community for recommendations. The books range from a “guide to saying yes to life” written by the creator of Grey’s Anatomy to a book examining the history of cancer, its treatment, and the search for a cure. 

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person 

By Shonda Rhimes, Simon & Schuster 2015

“One of the books that has recently influenced my thinking was the Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person. While it’s an easy read, it’s a book that really encouraged me to think about my life and be very intentional about the choices I make. In the book, Rhimes describes her fears and life choices based on those fears, and the fortitude it took her to power through. It was very easy for me to translate the risk-taking that she eloquently articulated to situations in my own life. As a result, I was inspired to take more risks professionally and personally, and also be more aware of my time and how I spend it.”

— Kim D. Harrington, associate vice president, Human Resources

The Stranger: Barack Obama in the White House 

By Chuck Todd, Little, Brown, and Company 2014 

“Chuck Todd’s book on the Obama presidency is a must-read for anyone who has more than a casual interest in understanding the tumultuous experience of our nation’s first African-American President.” 

— Archie Ervin, vice president, Institute Diversity 

Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny 

By Amartya Sen, Penguin 2006

“This book explores how identity, when it is defined as belonging to a single group, is at the root of violence. Sen rejects appealing to our common humanity as the means to end violence; instead, he calls for embracing the multiplicity of our identities. We can choose to emphasize those identities we share with others in order to nurture an environment that makes room for all to thrive. While the argument is made with fierce examples (e.g., the first one is about a murder he was exposed to during Muslim-Hindu riots), it can be applied to the ‘violence’ we wreak on our lives and our communities. When a community is divided by disagreement and different viewpoints, learning about and embracing our myriad identities is a positive way forward. It is a thought-provoking and inspirational read by a Nobel prize-winning economist.”   

—­ Amy Henry, executive director, Office of International Education 

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer 

By Siddhartha Mukherjee, Scribner 2010  

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer is a beautifully written book about an awful, terrifying disease. Physician and scientist Dr. Mukherjee outlines the history of cancer, its treatment, and the relentless search for a cure while interweaving the stories of his patients with historical documentation and science. This book gave me a greater understanding of the different types of cancer, the treatment options, and the agony of both the patients and the doctors. I recommend it as a book that can educate, give hope, empower patients, and, most of all, help us be better friends, family members, and caregivers to those who are suffering.”

­— Leslie Sharp, associate vice provost, Graduate Education and Faculty Development 

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics 

By Daniel James Brown, Penguin 2013 

Boys in the Boat is a true story based on the crew team from the University of Washington and their incredible journey to represent the United States in the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany. It is less about crew and more about teamwork and perseverance at a time when the United States was beginning to come out of the great depression and the activities in Germany were about to change the world forever.”

— Howard Wertheimer, assistant vice president, Capital Planning and Space Management

The Runner’s Guide to the Meaning of Life: What 35 Years of Running Has Taught Me About Winning, Losing, Happiness, Humility, and the Human Heart

By Amby Burfoot, Rodale Press 2000

“Amby Burfoot was the 1968 winner of the Boston Marathon. Although the book is a bit dated, first published in 2000, it is still an easy read for anyone who enjoys running or aspires to become a runner. In the book, Burfoot reflects on his years of running, the lessons he’s learned as a runner, how those lessons have helped him navigate life. He offers the reader 15 essential life lessons to reflect on that have to deal with courage, failure, passion, materialism, and more. It’s a great book to read at the start of a new year.”

— John Stein, vice president of Student Life/dean of students

Related Media

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  • 2016 Faculty/Staff Holiday Reading Recommendations

  • Year of Yes

  • The Stranger

  • Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny By Amartya Sen, Pen

  • The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

  • The Boys in the Boat

  • The Runner's Guide to the Meaning of Life

For More Information Contact

Victor Rogers

Institute Communications