PRI’s 2023 Holiday Book List

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Believe it or not, the holidays are upon us again.  This means one thing – it’s time to go holiday shopping.  If you have a book lover on your holiday shopping list, PRI is here to help.

Every year, PRI’s team offers our holiday book list – recommendations of our favorite books of 2023.  Some of these books are new, while others are classics.  The topics cover every subject from politics to business to fiction.  Whatever types of books your favorite book lover enjoys, we have a good suggestion or two here for you.

From all of us at PRI, we wish you a very happy and healthy holiday season.

Tim Anaya – Negotiation Made Simple by John Lowry

My selection this year is a bit of shameless self-promotion, as it is a book that I helped to edit.  My friend John Lowry has just published his first book, which gives you useful tips and teaches you the strategy to negotiate anything to maximize your advantage.  Whether you are negotiating a 7-figure deal or the purchase of a new car, a negotiating novice or an old pro, this book has something for you.

Dana Beigel – Lost and Found by Kathryn Shultz

Not necessarily an easy read but beautifully written, I was taken with the authors philosophical exploration on the concept of loss. She applied it to both the daily mundane and the extraordinary in the loss of someone. Her description of her father resonated with me and reminded me of my own family, and I felt an immediate connection to what she was going through.

Bartlett Cleland – Life After Capitalism by George Gilder

I will admit right up front that I am a Gilder fanboy, but if you want to learn about economics then you must read Gilder. He does away with the notion of economics as the “dismal science,” one obsessed with scarcity. Instead, he points to what he then proves, that we are alive in an age of abundance. His follows four major themes: Wealth is knowledge, Growth is learning, Information is surprise, Money is time. With this analysis he demonstrates that the true cost of life has radically reduced leading all of us to be able to enjoy more while working less for it. Gilder shows why government projections always miss the mark – the government misunderstands capitalism, wealth and abundance!

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

A favorite tradition, reading a scary book over the holidays, this year is worth a re-read of Frankenstein. Want to understand the literary origins of dystopian science fiction stories then look no further. Experiments, forces unleashed beyond the control of man, humanity suffering. Yes! This story has all the elements that modern sci-fi writers and Hollywood still deploy, playing on our fear of the unknown. But now that you know it’s just a story, and artful writers toying with your emotions, you can now embrace AI for what it really is – a useful tool that will increase productivity and national wealth!

Laura Dannerbeck – The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese 

I loved this book- it was not only a beautifully descriptive book but written so well that it felt like we lived in the same village. Sickness, mental illness, death, and drowning were a mystery to this village. The myths, the assumptions and random superstitions surrounding this family were justified by recent history and limited knowledge. The medical cause of the unexplained deaths was only determined at the end, by a committed doctor and a descendant of the family.   I loved the process:  superstition, accusation, assumption of cause, and “demon influences,” before the medical cause was determined and the mysteries of the family was laid out for the medical world.

Rowena Itchon – A Short Introduction to Beauty by Roger Scruton

Looking back on the books I read this past year, the one that stands out is Roger Scruton’s book A Short Introduction to Beauty. Sir Roger Scruton — he was knighted — was an English philosopher, writer, and social critic who specialized in aesthetics and political philosophy – a giant in the academy. He passed away just a few years ago. This year I read a small book by him, A Short Introduction to Beauty. Scruton challenges the modern notion that beauty is subjective, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  He makes the case for the objectively beautiful — in art, in music, in literature, in nature.  His book, indeed, is objectively beautiful and makes a great gift for the most beautiful time of the year.

Lance Izumi – The Great Parent Revolt by Lance Izumi, Wenyuan Wu and McKenzie Richards

I cannot help but recommend The Great Parent Revolt: How Parents and Grassroots Leaders Are Fighting Critical Race Theory in America’s Schools, which I co-authored with Wenyuan Wu and my PRI colleague McKenzie Richards.  The book collects the inspiring stories of parents, students, school board members, and grassroots leaders who are fighting the most divisive doctrine to ever invade America’s schools–critical race theory, which classifies children as oppressors and oppressed based on their race.  Among the heroes profiled: a poor widowed African American mom who sued her son’s school over discriminatory CRT lessons, a single Muslim immigrant mom who fought the race-based admissions system at her son’s school, and a Chinese immigrant mom who survived Mao’s murderous Cultural Revolution and who warns that America is becoming like Communist China.

Kerry Jackson – I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

It is long, it isn’t new (published almost a decade ago), and it sometimes doesn’t go far before yet another why-is-this-in-here digression pops up. But Hayes ties it all snugly together in the end in a book that is hard to stop reading, even though at times it feels exhausting.

Pam Lewison – The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

As a recovering journalist, getting lost in a series of intertwined stories about members of an English-language newsroom in Rome takes me back to my news days. The ups and downs of each story coupled with the dark humor is perfect for a snow day and a cup of something warm.

Devon Mirsky – Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky

It’s a fascinating book on community organizing, in a diabolical way. It’s not only enlightening as to the extreme tactics that are advocated for but also gives insight into human psychology and sociology. You can see how this book has been used for inspiration and how effective these kinds of tactics are, so it’s useful as a tool to bring about deeper awareness about what’s going on.

Sally Pipes – The State of Black America 2024 (Progress), edited by Marty Dannenfelser

The book I’m recommending isn’t out yet – it will be published in the spring by Encounter Books. The State of Black America 2024 (Progress), edited by Marty Dannenfelser of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education (CURE), is a series of essays by policy researchers on the state of blacks in America. My essay The State of Black Health Care in America focuses on the discrepancies between blacks and whites on access to care, longevity, and income differentials. (health care.) The gap between blacks and Americans of other races on health measures remains wide. (From access to insurance and prescription drugs to rates of chronic disease and mortality,) Black Americans fare worse than their peers. I offer common-sense market-based solutions that will benefit Americans of all races and black Americans in particular.

McKenzie Richards – Bibi: My Story by Benjamin Netanyahu

The excellent autobiography, Bibi: My Story, grants compelling insight into Israel’s recent history, as experienced through the life of Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu. Filled with poignant personal anecdotes, touching sacrifice made for his country, and fascinating firsthand accounts of US diplomatic relations, Netanyahu’s life story personalizes what’s at stake in the raging Israel-Hamas war.

Ben Smithwick – The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die by Niall Ferguson

In this book authored by the keynote speaker at PRI’s 2023 Gala, historian Niall Ferguson offers his provocative take on the decline of Western civilization and how we can stem the tide of economic and social decay through tough but necessary reforms. The book makes an excellent gift for those who are concerned about the future of the Western world and the prosperity of future generations.

Steve Smith – The Many Lives of Mama Love by Lara Love Hardin

Set in Santa Cruz, The Many Lives of Mama Love tells the story of overcoming crime and addiction and becoming a renowned author. It shows that even in a broken system, rehabilitation and success are possible.

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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