From Vogel to Mitchell: five books to nurture your brain

From Vogel to Mitchell: five books to nurture your brain

Yes, holidays are a time for rest and relaxation, but there's no need to starve your mind while you're at at it.

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What book will be gracing your bedside table this summer?
What book will be gracing your bedside table this summer?

Better by Atul Gawande

American surgeon Atul Gawande first came to my attention with his book The Checklist Manifesto. In it, he wrote about how complicated tasks can be managed to minimise errors. In Better, he writes about how to improve on that. Even if you are not interested in medicine, there are valuable lessons to be learned. 

Often we're instructed to be creative and think outside the box, but few people can tell us how to do this. Gawande comes as close to giving us the formula as I have ever found. 

How has the US managed to minimise its battlefield deaths, despite being involved in wars in which weapons are far more advanced than ever before? Was it some amazing invention? Was it hugely expensive equipment? No, it was due to protection and time - relatively simple solutions. 

Protection meant not only better armour for soldiers, but ensuring that they wear it, making it comfortable and fashionable. 

Time meant setting up hospital teams closer to the frontline so that wounded soldiers reached medical help as fast as possible. The results were amazing. That was just one chapter of this fascinating read.

Susan Ramsay


Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China by Ezra Vogel

 Deng Xiaoping was one of the mainland's most well-known leaders. Not only was he one of the longest-serving politicians, he also changed the country's future, both socially and economically, with his revolutionary ideas. Harvard professor Ezra Vogel did a lot of in-depth research on Deng to try to understand his political career. From interviews with people who knew Deng personally to previously unseen memoirs, this book has a lot of valuable material.

To understand the mainland today, and the evolution of the country, you need to understand Deng Xioping, and this book can help you do that.

Young Wang


Ghostwritten by David Mitchell

I think books are good for nurturing your brain. If you're reading something you enjoy, you are more likely to continue, and more likely to want to read something else afterwards, too.

Having said that, I would highly recommend Ghostwritten by David Mitchell. It is mainly set around East Asia, and each chapter is from the perspective of a different character, including one particularly interesting man from Hong Kong. 

Although each of these characters is in a completely different place, all of their stories seem coincidentally linked, or their actions impact the lives of someone in a completely different country. 

This clever plot really makes you stop and think, and forces you into someone else's shoes, to try to understand their struggles and dilemmas. 

Lucy Christie


The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw 

Brush up on your knowledge of the ancient Egyptians with this interesting and exciting piece of historical fiction. 

Ranofer is an apprentice goldsmith who discovers that his brother is involved in a plot to steal the pharaoh's gold. Can he find a way to stop the crime without getting killed? 

Eloise Jarvis McGraw tells an intriguing and action-packed tale, all the while painting a vivid picture of life in Egypt some 3,500 years ago.

Sam Gusway


The Vintage Tea Party: a Complete Guide to Hosting your Perfect Party by Angel Adoree

Tea and vintage style are both very popular just now, so Angel Adoree should have a huge audience for this collection of inspired ideas. 

From invites, decorations and retro-hairstyles, to canapes, drinks and desserts, Adoree has everything to make throwing a cute tea party both easy and fun. 

Whether it's a bed of healthy black couscous for a touch of gothic gourmet, or a three-tiered, Alice in Wonderland-inspired cake display, your friends will be dying to dress up in 1940s glamour and come over for a soiree.

Lauren James

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Books to nurture your brain

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