Staff Reads in December

The Wall Street Journal released their list of the Top Fiction Books of 2015 last week. (  Our office is a compilation of people who are scientists, executives, sales people, marketing and finance employees.  Needless to say we vary greatly on what we like to read in our personal time.  Here are some of the books that we are reading as this year comes to an end.  Hopefully one of them might inspire you if you are looking for a book to read.


A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman  (excerpt is from Barnes and Noble)

In this “charming debut” (People) from one of Sweden’s most successful authors, a grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

A feel-good story in the spirit of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Fredrik Backman’s novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others. “If there was an award for ‘Most Charming Book of the Year,’ this first novel by a Swedish blogger-turned-overnight-sensation would win hands down” (Booklist, starred review).


The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy by Jacob Burkhardt  (excerpt is from Good Reads)

For nineteenth-century Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt, the Italian Renaissance was nothing less than the beginning of the modern world – a world in which flourishing individualism and the competition for fame radically transformed science, the arts, and politics. In this landmark work he depicts the Italian city-states of Florence, Venice and Rome as providing the seeds of a new form of society, and traces the rise of the creative individual, from Dante to Michelangelo. A fascinating description of an era of cultural transition, this nineteenth-century masterpiece was to become the most influential interpretation of the Italian Renaissance, and anticipated ideas such as Nietzsche’s concept of the ‘Ubermensch’ in its portrayal of an age of genius.



The Son by Jo Nesbo (excerpt is from Barnes and Noble)

The author of the best-selling Harry Hole series now gives us an electrifying stand-alone novel set inside Oslo’s maze of especially venal, high-level corruption.

Sonny Lofthus is a strangely charismatic and complacent young man. Sonny’s been in prison for a dozen years, nearly half his life. The inmates who seek out his uncanny abilities to soothe leave his cell feeling absolved. They don’t know or care that Sonny has a serious heroin habit—or where or how he gets his uninterrupted supply of the drug. Or that he’s serving time for other peoples’ crimes.

Sonny took the first steps toward addiction when his father took his own life rather than face exposure as a corrupt cop. Now Sonny is the seemingly malleable center of a whole infrastructure of corruption: prison staff, police, lawyers, a desperate priest—all of them focused on keeping him high and in jail. And all of them under the thumb of the Twin, Oslo’s crime overlord. As long as Sonny gets his dope, he’s happy to play the criminal and the prison’s in-house savior.

But when he learns a stunning, long-hidden secret concerning his father, he makes a brilliantly executed escape from prison—and from the person he’d let himself become—and begins hunting down those responsible for the crimes against him . . . The darkly looming question is: Who will get to him first—the criminals or the cops?



Why Not Me? By Mindy Kaling (excerpt is from Barnes and Noble)

From the author of the beloved New York Times bestselling book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? and the creator and star of The Mindy Project comes a collection of essays that are as hilarious and insightful as they are deeply personal.
In Why Not Me?, Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life, whether it’s falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behavior modification whatsoever, or most important, believing that you have a place in Hollywood when you’re constantly reminded that no one looks like you.

In “How to Look Spectacular: A Starlet’s Confessions,” Kaling gives her tongue-in-cheek secrets for surefire on-camera beauty, (“Your natural hair color may be appropriate for your skin tone, but this isn’t the land of appropriate–this is Hollywood, baby. Out here, a dark-skinned woman’s traditional hair color is honey blonde.”) “Player” tells the story of Kaling being seduced and dumped by a female friend in L.A. (“I had been replaced by a younger model. And now they had matching bangs.”) In “Unlikely Leading Lady,” she muses on America’s fixation with the weight of actresses, (“Most women we see onscreen are either so thin that they’re walking clavicles or so huge that their only scenes involve them breaking furniture.”) And in “Soup Snakes,” Kaling spills some secrets on her relationship with her ex-boyfriend and close friend, B.J. Novak (“I will freely admit: my relationship with B.J. Novak is weird as hell.”)

Mindy turns the anxieties, the glamour, and the celebrations of her second coming-of-age into a laugh-out-loud funny collection of essays that anyone who’s ever been at a turning point in their life or career can relate to. And those who’ve never been at a turning point can skip to the parts where she talks about meeting Bradley Cooper.



Book of Thief by Markus Zusak (excerpt is from Barnes and Noble)

The extraordinary #1 New York Times bestseller that is now a major motion picture, Markus Zusak’s unforgettable story is about the ability of books to feed the soul.

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.


State of Fear by Michael Crichton (excerpt is from Barnes and Noble)

In Paris, a physicist dies after performing a laboratory experiment for a beautiful visitor.

In the jungles of Malaysia, a mysterious buyer purchases deadly cavitation technology, built to his specifications.

In Vancouver, a small research submarine is leased for use in the waters off New Guinea.

And in Tokyo, an intelligence agent tries to understand what it all means.

Thus begins Michael Crichton’s exciting and provocative techno-thriller State of Fear. Only Crichton’s unique ability to blend scientific fact with pulse-pounding fiction could bring such disparate elements to such a heart-stopping conclusion.


We hope that sharing our list and future reading lists will help provide ideas for new reading adventures or gifting the love of reading to someone else.

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