Holiday Gifts for Expats and Global Citizens: 10 Great Books from 2020

Chad Creveling, CFA and Peggy Creveling, CFA |

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 over the holidays, have a look through our annual list of good books. Although we’ve selected these with the expat reader in mind, in a year as challenging as 2020, we hope everyone can enjoy them. All can be easily purchased on the Internet, and while some are more serious, others are just for fun. For those expats who may live far away, most of these titles have digital and audio versions available, which makes getting them to your friend or loved one that much easier.


  1. Blue Sky Kingdom: An Epic Family Journey to the Heart of the Himalaya by Bruce Kirkby. The author had fallen into a pattern of looking mindlessly at his phone for hours, flipping between emails and social media, ignoring his children and wife and everything alive in his world, when a thought struck him. This wasn't living; this wasn't him. This moment of clarity started a chain reaction that ended with a grand plan: he was going to take his wife and two young sons, jump on a freighter, and head for the Himalaya. “As it explores an ancient—and dying—Tibetan Buddhist culture, this delightful book also tells a timely, heartwarming story of a family’s search for peace away from the din of modern culture. Soul-refreshing reading for armchair travelers and spiritual questers alike.” ― Kirkus Review
  2. The Greatest Gambling Story Ever Told: A True Tale of Three Gamblers, The Kentucky Derby, and the Mexican Cartel by Mark Paul. In the late 1980s, a three-year-old female racehorse named Winning Colors was being groomed for success under her famous trainer and the billionaire owner of the San Diego Chargers football team. Meanwhile, three fun-loving gamblers believed that Winning Colors could be the unlikely winner of the 1988 Kentucky Derby. When the gamblers unknowingly place their longshot bet with members of a suspected drug cartel in Tijuana, Mexico, they must figure out how to claim their prize—without getting killed in the process. "A crazier-than-fiction tale of three young gamblers, a Mexican drug cartel and the 1988 Kentucky Derby. Paul waited years (and for the statute of limitations to run out) to tell this heart-pounding, true story." —Horse Racing Nation
  3. Black Hole Survival Guide by Janna Levin. Through her writing, astrophysicist Janna Levin has focused on making the science she studies not just comprehensible but also, and perhaps more important, intriguing to the nonscientist. In this book, she helps us to understand and find delight in the black hole—perhaps the most opaque theoretical construct ever imagined by physicists. She reveals the influence of black holes as they populate the universe, sculpt galaxies, and even infuse the whole expanse of reality that we inhabit. Lively, engaging, and utterly unique. “Not only is Levin a brilliant physicist, she’s an extravagant storyteller with a vivid imagination and an acute intellect who is willing to take you on a safe black hole trip, an exciting travel story enjoyed from your chair’s event horizon.” —Boston Globe
  4. Baking Day with Anna Olson: Recipes to Bake Together: 120 Sweet and Savory Recipes to Bake with Family and Friends by Anna Olson. The author is the internationally known host of the Food Network's Bake with Anna Olson, Fresh with Anna Olson, and Sugar, and the author of eight bestselling cookbooks on baking and cooking, including Appetite's Bake with Anna Olson and Set for the Holidays with Anna Olson. Anna is a professionally trained chef and lives in Ontario with her husband, Michael. "Canada’s queen of homemade desserts returns with 120 new baking recipes, each codified by skill level and designed to be made with friends and family." —CHATELAINE
  5. Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen by Dan Heath. So often in life, we get stuck in a cycle of response. We put out fires. We deal with emergencies. We stay downstream, handling one problem after another, but we never make our way upstream to fix the systems that caused the problems. Upstream delivers practical solutions for preventing problems rather than reacting to them. How many problems in our lives and in society are we tolerating simply because we’ve forgotten that we can fix them? “If you're a problem-solver of any kind—parent, teacher, scientist, politician, entrepreneur—this book is required reading.”— reviewer
  6. The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson. The author gives a new and brilliantly cinematic account of how Britain’s most iconic leader set about unifying the nation at its most vulnerable moment, and teaching “the art of being fearless.” Drawing on once-secret intelligence reports and diaries, Larson takes readers from the shelled streets of London to Churchill’s own chambers, giving a vivid vision of true leadership, when—in the face of unrelenting horror—a leader of eloquence, strategic brilliance, and perseverance bound a country, and a family, together. “A damn good story. There are narrative arcs, heroes, villains, and suspense aplenty to craft the kind of rich, immersive histories that have become Larson’s trademark.”—Rolling Stone
  7. Successful Aging: A Neuroscientist Explores the Power and Potential of Our Lives by Daniel J Levitin. The author delivers powerful insights: —Debunking the myth that memory always declines with age —Confirming that health span—not life span—is what matters —Proving that sixty-plus years is a unique and newly recognized developmental stage —Recommending that people look forward to joy, as reminiscing doesn't promote health. "A superb user's manual for aging bodies and minds, providing an evidence-based discussion of issues including personality, memory, intelligence, and emotions." —
  8. The Deep End (Diary of a Wimpy Kid Book 15) by Jeff Kinney. In The Deep End, Greg Heffley and his family hit the road for a cross-country camping trip, ​ready for the adventure of a lifetime. But things take an unexpected turn, and they find themselves stranded at an RV park that’s not exactly a summertime paradise. When the skies open up and the water starts to rise, the Heffleys wonder if they can save their vacation—or if they’re already in too deep. “5.0 out of 5 stars. A classic. I have been reading this series since I was in the 4th grade, now I’m in graduate school. I ordered two, one for me & one for my nephews! Great book, this series never disappoints.” — reviewer
  9. You Are Worth It: Building a Life Worth Fighting For by Kyle Carpenter and Don Yaeger. One of the year’s most anticipated books, Kyle’s remarkable memoir reveals a central truth that will inspire every reader: Life is worth everything we’ve got. It is the story of how one man became a so-called hero who willingly laid down his life for his brother-in-arms—and equally, it is a story of rebirth, of how Kyle battled back from the gravest challenge to forge a life of joyful purpose. You Are Worth It is also a manual for living. The book encourages us to become our best selves in the time we have been given on earth. “A compelling account of life well-lived against the toughest odds, one that will inspire and build confidence in every reader.” —James Mattis, retired U.S. Marine Corps four-star general and former U.S. Secretary of Defense
  10. Nala's World: One Man, His Rescue Cat, and a Bike Ride around the Globe by Dean Nicholson and Garry Jenkins. When 30-year-old Dean Nicholson set off from Scotland to cycle around the world, his aim was to learn as much as he could about our troubled planet. But he hadn't bargained on the lessons he'd learn from his unlikely companion. Three months after leaving home, on a remote road in the mountains between Montenegro and Bosnia, he came across an abandoned kitten. Something about the piercing eyes and plaintive meowing of the bedraggled little cat proved irresistible. Discover the heartwarming true story of a life-changing friendship between a man and his rescue cat, Nala, as they adventure together on a bike journey around the world. “5.0 out of 5 stars. Wow! What a wonderful book! It’s the story of Dean & the kitten who adopted him—so how can you go wrong?!” — reviewer


About Creveling & Creveling Private Wealth Advisory
Creveling & Creveling is a private wealth advisory firm specializing in helping expatriates living in Thailand and throughout Southeast Asia build and preserve their wealth. The firm is a Registered Investment Adviser with the U.S. SEC and is licensed and regulated by the Thai SEC. Through a unique, integrated consulting approach, Creveling & Creveling is dedicated to helping clients cut through the financial intricacies of expat life, make better decisions with their money, and take the steps necessary to provide a more secure future.

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