Holiday Gifts for Expats and Global Citizens: 10 Great Books from 2016

Chad Creveling |

By Peggy Creveling, CFA, and Chad Creveling, CFA

As you look for a holiday gift for your favorite expat, or perhaps just for some interesting reading for yourself over the holidays, have a look through our annual list of highly rated books from 2016, especially selected with the expat reader in mind. All can be easily purchased on the internet, and while some are more serious, some are just for fun. For those expats who may live far away, most of these titles have a digital version available, which makes getting them to your friend or loved one that much easier.

  1. The Panama Papers by Bastian Obermayer and Frederik Obermaier. The real-life thriller behind the story of the century, The Panama Papers is an intense, unputdownable account that proves, once and for all, that there exists a small elite living by a different set of rules and blows their secret world wide open. "The Panama Papers is a tale of fearless and careful reporting …. How to follow the money—the lesson of the Watergate investigation a generation ago—has been given a reboot for the age of globalisation with this commendable account." —Financial Times
     
  2. The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams. In April 2015, Archbishop Tutu traveled to the Dalai Lama's home in Dharamsala, India, to celebrate His Holiness's 80th birthday and to create what they hoped would be a gift for others. They looked back on their long lives to answer a single burning question: How do we find joy in the fact of life's inevitable suffering? “The question may be timeless, but their answer has urgent significance.” —Time Magazine
     
  3. Star Wars Galactic Maps: An Illustrated Atlas of the Star Wars Universe by LucasFilm Book Group. Learn about all the planets of the Star Wars universe with Galactic Maps. With detailed maps showing the different worlds and characters, this is the perfect book for any avid Star Wars reader. Fans will be delighted to find a spread introducing them to the planet and characters featured in “Rogue One.” “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” —Han Solo “Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is.” —Yoda
     
  4. The Great Convergence: Information Technology and the New Globalization by Richard Baldwin. Between 1820 and 1990, the share of world income going to today’s wealthy nations soared from 20 percent to almost 70. Since then, that share has plummeted to where it was in 1900. As the author explains, this reversal of fortune reflects a new age of globalization that is drastically different from the old. Because globalization is now driven by fast-paced technological change and the fragmentation of production, its impact is more sudden, more selective, more unpredictable, and more uncontrollable. “In this meaty treatise, Baldwin argues that we’re in the process of a major shift in world economics and economic policy needs to be adjusted accordingly … Baldwin has put together an intriguing and compelling case.” —Publishers Weekly
     
  5. Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild. A finalist for the National Book Award, the book is based on five years of immersion reporting among Tea Party loyalists—now mostly supporters of Donald Trump. Mark Danner calls the book “a powerful, imaginative, necessary book, arriving not a moment too soon." Robert Reich writes: “Anyone who wants to understand modern America should read this captivating book." In its review, Publishers Weekly notes: “After evaluating her conclusions and meeting her informants in these pages, it’s hard to disagree that empathy is the best solution to stymied political and social discourse.”
     
  6. Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance. A passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis. J.D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck. Vance’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their chaotic family history. “You will not read a more important book about America this year." —The Economist
     
  7. The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life by John le Carré. From his years serving in British Intelligence during the Cold War, to a career as a writer that took him from war-torn Cambodia to Beirut on the cusp of the 1982 Israeli invasion to Russia before and after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, le Carré has always written from the heart of modern times. In this, his first memoir, le Carré is as funny as he is incisive, reading into the events he witnesses the same moral ambiguity with which he imbues his novels. “Spies are le Carré’s preferred subject, but through them he grapples with larger human truths that transcend the cloak-and-dagger underworld.” —The American Scholar
     
  8. Wild, Beautiful Places: Picture-Perfect Journeys Around the Globe by National Geographic, with foreword by George Stone. Highlighting 50 of Earth’s most pristine, scenic locales, this beautiful book is illustrated with stunning images, coupled with accessible, engaging descriptions and practical travel information. National Geographic photographers share some of their favorite shots from around the world and explain how they got them, and historical photos culled from National Geographic’s hallowed image archive highlight old Society explorations in rugged, distant locations.
     
  9. China’s Crony Capitalism: The Dynamics of Regime Decay by Minxin Pei. When Deng Xiaoping launched China on the path to economic reform in the late 1970s, he vowed to build “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” More than three decades later, China’s efforts to modernize have yielded something very different from the working people’s paradise Deng envisioned: an incipient kleptocracy, characterized by endemic corruption, soaring income inequality, and growing social tensions. “Mr Pei’s book is quietly devastating. In sober, restrained language, he exposes the full gravity of corruption in China.” —The Economist
     
  10. The Euro: How a Common Currency Threatens the Future of Europe by Joseph E. Stiglitz. Nobel Prize–winning economist and best-selling author Joseph E. Stiglitz dismantles the prevailing consensus around what ails Europe, demolishing the champions of austerity while offering a series of plans that can rescue the continent―and the world―from further devastation. With its lessons for globalization in a world economy ever more deeply connected, The Euro is urgent and essential reading. “Many of Mr. Stiglitz’s most damning observations are on target.” —Wall Street Journal