PRI’s 2022 Holiday Book List


PRI’s scholars and staff are pleased to present our annual Holiday Book List.  We hope our choices for our favorite books of 2022, which range from books new and old, covering topics from policy to cooking, give you some inspiration for the book lover on your holiday shopping list.  From all of us at PRI, we wish you Season’s Greetings.

Tim Anaya – Celebrate with Babs: Holiday Recipes and Family Traditions by Barbara Costello

Not too long ago, while scrolling through my Instagram feed, I noticed these videos pop up from a fast-talking, grandmotherly figure giving us “hacks” in a few seconds to easily cut through what can be quite complicated chores in the kitchen and around the house.  I was intrigued by her recipe to simply make a dozen homemade breakfast sandwiches that you can freeze and enjoy later.  She’s also taught me to properly load a dishwasher – including how to lower the top shelf of your dishwasher (which I didn’t know you could do!) Doing a little research, I discovered that our beloved Babs was actually Barbara Costello, and she has just released her first cookbook, Celebrate with Babs.  It features the same “hacks” for easy and delicious recipes for any occasion you celebrate throughout the year. 

Dana Beigel – The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn

The Diamond Eye is a well-documented novel by one of my favorite authors, Kate Quinn. Based on the life of historical WWII female sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko, the fun read follows her experiences in training, war, friendship, and love.

Laura Dannerbeck – The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post by Allison Pataki

I had never heard this remarkable story of Marjorie Merriweather Post prior to now. She was intelligent, thoughtful, hard-working, and accomplished. As an only child, she had worked alongside her father to create Post cereals, had learned the business, and ultimately served on the Post board of directors. Marjorie loved beauty, and she was the first to admit that she had been blessed with many beautiful things over the course of her life, but she used her inheritance to enrich everything she touched; the art world, the architectural world, the political world, the literary world. She was famous for hosting world leaders and society legends. During the Cold War, serving as the first U.S ambassadress in the U.S.S.R., she won over the top officials of the Kremlin. She counted numerous presidents and world leaders among her closest friends. A fascinating, historical biography of a woman before her time. 

Emily Humpal – The Lord of the Rings Part One: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

J.R.R Tolkien is a brilliant writer and reading his books is refreshingly unique from the simplistic writing style authors write in today. The worlds he builds are extremely intricate and you have to put in work as the reader to follow and understand its complexities. Too many stories today don’t have much depth, but reading his work makes me ask more and more questions, keeps me wondering and keeps me wanting to read and learn more about hobbits and the tale of the One Ring. 10/10 recommend! 

Rowena Itchon – Wanting: The Power of Mimetic Desire in Everyday Life by Luke Burgis

The book is about the nature of desire.  Mimetic desire is a theory proposed by the theologian René Girard (Peter Thiel was a student of his at Stanford).  The popular notion is that desire comes from within.  Girard says, to the contrary, you desire what people around you desire.

Mortals and Immortals of Greek Mythology by Françoise Rachmuhl, illustrated by Charlotte Gastaut

If your kids love Greek mythology like I did growing up, I think you’ll love this book. 

Lance Izumi – The Great Parent Revolt: How Parents and Grassroots Leaders are Fighting Critical Race Theory in America’s Schools by Lance Izumi, Wenyuan Wu, and McKenzie Richards (soon to be published by PRI)

Critical race theory, a Marxist doctrine that separates people into oppressor and oppressed classes based on race, has invaded the nation’s classrooms and has pitted student against student and outraged parents.  This new PRI book profiles a diverse array of courageous parents, grassroots leaders, and educators who have taken on the responsibility to fight and defeat CRT and save America’s kids. 

Pam Lewison – The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

The novel is set in Rome and follows the private lives of reporters, editors, and executives at a newspaper. They each have their part to play in trying to keep the struggling publication alive.

Devon Mirsky – The Bible

I’m going to recommend The Bible, since it is the most influential book in history, and I feel like it is important for everyone to get through it.  I’m still currently working on it, but at the moment, my favorite book has been Exodus.  It is such an influential book with the Ten Commandments and all the great stories. 

Sally Pipes – Her Majesty: A Photographic History 1926-2022, edited by Reuel Golden, text by Christopher Warwick 

This coffee table book is a definitive history containing amazing photos of Queen Elizabeth’s incredible public and private life.  She was the world’s most famous monarch and loved by so many.  Having served as Britain’s monarch for 70 years, she surpassed the long reign of Queen Victoria.  She passed away quietly on September 8th at age 96 at her favorite place, Balmoral Castle in Scotland.  In these times of high inflation, a long pandemic, and political upheaval, this book is a breath of fresh air and well worth getting a copy.”  

McKenzie Richards – The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

To be honest, I listened to most of this book while driving – otherwise I probably wouldn’t have gotten into it. Although the book is considered “fantasy,” the plot reads more like a classic epic: a journey full of seemingly random events led by a cunning protagonist. The book follows the story of young “Kvothe,” an intelligent musician and thief who dreams of knowing how to control the wind. To boot, Patrick Rothfuss writes beautifully – more like Tolkien stylistically, and less like other writers populating the genre who can’t seem to avoid cheesy tropes.

Steve Smith – Seabiscuit – An American Legend and Unbroken – A World War II Story of Survival and Redemption, both by Laura Hillenbrand

Both biographies are stories of runners and the people in their lives.  Seabiscuit the ignored horse turned champion  and Louis Zamperini the Olympian and soldier turned POW.    Hillenbrand, a Virginian, chose to write stories of Californians and weaves her way through the Great Depression and World War II. Seabiscuit is an undersized thoroughbred and Louis Zamperini a 132 pound runner- yet both found a path to personal victory against long odds.  They survived terrible injuries and their example helped save the lives of the people around them.  Both books also made terrific movies and Seabiscuit was narrated by historian David McCullough who we lost just this year.   Read them for the first time or read them again and you’ll find  fortitude, friendship, and faith.   Great American stories for the Christmas Season.

Ben Smithwick – Inflation: What It Is, Why It’s Bad, and How to Fix It by Steve Forbes, Nathan Lewis, Elizabeth Ames

This timely book offers the definitive explanation of the worst inflationary crisis in more than 40 years – and how policymakers are making things worse. Forbes, Lewis, and Ames debunk the myth that a steady level of inflation is necessary for economic stability. The book includes a historical analysis of the negative impact of inflation and a path forward for leaders in Washington, D.C. to get inflation under control. A must read for anyone concerned about the state of our economy. 

Wayne Winegarden – Knowledge and Decisions by Thomas Sowell

I am rereading Knowledge and Decisions by Thomas Sowell, which should be required reading for all introductory economics classes. At a time when people are turning to industrial policy and central planning, Sowell’s insights demonstrate why these policies are destined to make things worse. Not to give away the ending, but the reason is knowledge. Good policy recognizes that different organizational structures are suited to use and generate knowledge in different situations. He then applies the insights to law and politics showing the breadth of these insights.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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