Matthew Bell, Reporter
Currently on location in Korea
My pick is â€œThe Two Koreas: A Contemporary Historyâ€ by Don Oberdorfer. Oberdorfer's modern history of North and South Korea reads like a novel. I read most of it on the plane to Seoul in preparation for this reporting trip. The book is also the most comprehensive look at modern North - South relations with an emphasis on U.S. involvement and perceptions. Oberdorfer's time in Korea began during the Korean War. He was an American soldier who arrived soon after the armistice was signed in 1953. Later, he became northeast Asia bureau chief for the Washington Post. He covered the Vietnam War. And from Korea, Oberdorfer interviewed most of the big players in the North, South and Washington during the 25 years before the historic summit in 2000 with Kim Jong-il and Kim Dae-jung. If you want context to what's happening with the North Korean nuclear issue, Oberdorfer's book is indispensable.
Clark Boyd, Technology Reporter
My pick for holiday reading is a graphic novel called â€œLaikaâ€. Author and artist Nick Abadzis has created a wonderful piece of historical fiction. It tells the story of Laika, the cosmodog that the Soviets shot into space 50 years ago aboard Sputnik 2. Laika was the first creature to orbit the earth. But what makes her story so moving is that she's also the only animal ever sent into space without a plan to bring her home. It's a must read for comics lovers, animal lovers, kids, space buffs, and anyone who likes a well-told, well-drawn tale.
Katy Clark, Reporter
My most recent read was â€œIsaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in Historyâ€ by Erik Larson. It's an account of a hurricane that struck Galveston, Texas on September 8,1900. The storm killed upwards of ten thousand people and remains the worst natural disaster ever to strike the United States. In this post-Katrina day and age of climate change, I found the story to be a sobering account and the bravery of those who survived the storm inspiring.
Gerry Hadden, European Correspondent
I'm currently losing sleep reading â€œThe Complete Prose of Woody Allenâ€ before bed. If you want to add silliness to your holidays and keep your partner awake with your giggles, I recommend this light treatise on the absurd. I would also suggest a classic, which I've been reading to my 3 year old daughter before SHE goes to bed. â€œThe Giving Tree,â€ by Shel Silverstein. If you don't know it or don't remember it, it's the story of a tree that gives all she has to make a small child happy. It's a tale of generosity, illustrated with simple line drawings, tinged with melancholy, as are, at times, the holidays.
Quil Lawrence, Middle East Correspondent
For work I'm reading books about the Middle East this holiday season, like â€œLion of Jordan,â€ the new biography of King Hussein, by Israeli author Avi Shlaim. But if I had the choice I'd be re-reading Phillip Pullman's â€œThe Golden Compassâ€ to check the movie for its faithfulness to the book. I like the series because, for reasons both personal and professional, I've always wanted to have a friend who is an armored bear.
Jason Margolis, Reporter
My pick is the novel â€œGhostWrittenâ€ by British author David Mitchell. The book is divided into nine distinct parts, in nine different world locations â€“ from Japan to Russia to London. The parts of the book show the very different lives we all live, but also the interconnectedness of life in the modern world, and the twenty-first century notions of community. The tale is told through first-person narrations, so the reader can see, and feel, life through nine very different sets of eyes: from a teenager in Japan working in a record store, to an elderly teashop proprietor in rural China, to a brilliant Irish physicist. This is one of the more unique novels I've read in a long time. A good read.
Aaron Schachter, Middle East Correspondent
I just finished reading "The Places in Between," by Rory Stewart. It's the story of his month-long walk in Afghanistan from Herat to Kabul, which is actually part of a much longer walk across Iran, Pakistan, India and Nepal. Stewart combines his talent for languages (in this case Farsi), historical knowledge of Afghanistan, and a physical ability that would make famed mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary proud. He makes the journey in the middle of winter following the footsteps of legendary conquerer Babur, the descendant of Tamerlane who travelled across Afghanistan on his way to found India's Mogul dynasty. I was initially put off by the grandiosity of Stewart's quest, but he tells the story with humility and an obvious love for the people he meets and the places in between.