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The holiday season is upon us, and many of us will be traveling, visiting family and friends. What better way to pass travel time than indulging in a new book?

Books are a great way to dive into a rich adventure, explore a new place or simply relax in front of the chimney. We hope you enjoy our holiday reading list, developed by our CAS Trip team. 

Recommended book: Pillars of the Earth
Author of the book: Ken Follett
Suggested by: Simon, CAS Trips Founder 

Why it is a must read: Epic, page-turning historical fiction at its finest. A spellbinding tale of ambition, absolute power and tyranny which spans generations in the building of a gothic Cathedral in medieval twelfth-century England.

Recommended book: A Gentleman in Moscow
Author of the book: Amor Towles
Suggested by: Callum, Director 

Why it is a must read: My favorite book of the year. It is simply just a pleasure to read. Makes you realise how much happiness and joy there can be in life when we do our best to make the most of it.

Recommended book: Matterhorn
Author of the book: Karl Marlantes
Suggested by: Ross, Global Student Conference Academic Director 

Why it is a must read: I rarely read war novels so I’m not sure why I ever started this book. Once I started reading it, however, I couldn’t put it down. Even though it’s about the Vietnam War, it is timeless as it portrays the experience of young men from very different backgrounds who are thrown together and who find themselves in a life and death situation in which they have no idea what their purpose is or why they’re there. 

They learn to show humanity toward each other at times, but also there are many examples of inhumanity that they have a hard time understanding. It was of particular interest to me since I could have easily been one of the characters in the book as I turned 18 in 1967. Luckily I avoided the war, but I have always agonized over the fact that someone must have gone in my place. 

Recommended book: Marcus Didius Falco
Author of the book: Lindsey David
Suggested by: Pedro, Business Development Manager

Why it is a must read: I recommend this fantastic book series, Marcus Didius Falco, a sort of private investigator back in the Roman Empire. Each book contains an Old World mystery (or more), from discovering the true author of the embezzlement of senate tax revenue to dismantling counterfeit rings, white collard crime and murder. It’s a wonderful, historically accurate setting that does an amazing job of transporting you to a by-gone age, through the lens of a simple detective. 

Recommended book: The Catcher in the Rye
Author of the book: JD Salinger
Suggested by: Kathryn, Prague Director

Why it is a must read: The first paragraph of this book totally got me hook, line and sinker. I was ill at the time and read it three times in one week. I can always go back to it (I am re-reading it right now!) and in some ways, it has ruined fiction for me because I’ve never found another book to match it. It captures the unstable psyche of adolescence and the essence of New York City, as well as capturing the brilliant slang of 1940s and 1950s America. It is both funny and poignant, and I recommend it to everyone when we talk about books.

Recommended book: The Storyteller
Author of the book: Jodi Picoult
Suggested by: Sarah, Prague Global Student Exchange Director

Why it is a must read: The Storyteller does just that. A good writer has the ability to put the reader in the shoes of the speaker.  This book has many speakers, each with their own angle on life, yet the extensive details of their stories makes it seemingly real, as though you personally know them. While they live in the present, they take us back to memories and struggles of WWII. 

Recommended book: A History of Scotland
Author of the book: Neil Oliver
Suggested by: Angus, Edinburgh Guide

Why it is a must read: This is the book that EVERY tour guide in Edinburgh gets recommended, with good reason. Neil Oliver has a fantastically accessible style and is comprehensive enough to give a great overview of the entire country while not overwhelming the reader with names and dates.

Recommended book: Ishmael
Author of the book: Daniel Quinn
Suggested by: Angus, Edinburgh Guide (Yes, he has two recommendations!)

Why it is a must read: This is a philosophy book dressed up like a novel. I read it when I was 18 and it changed my worldview. Immensely readable, this book explores the driving forces behind civilization.

Recommended book: Life of Pi
Author of the book: Yann Martel
Suggested by: Kristyna, Director of Operations

Why it is a must read: This book highlights why it is important to question reality, lets you believe in wonderful things and acknowledges that it is okay to not always find the answer to everything.

Recommended book: An American Marriage
Author of the book: Tayari Jones
Suggested by: Natascha, Marketing Director 

Why it is a must read: I can’t put my finger on what it was exactly, but An American Marriage captivated me like no other book ever has before. A beautifully real story about love, and what it really means.   

And we have a little bonus – our lovely Sarah from Prague recommended a podcast!

Recommended postcast: Rough Translation
Podcast host: Gregory Warner

Why it is a must listen: Rough Translation invites listeners into the lives of others abroad.  While we learn of other cultural traditions and values, it also reminds us that we are not all that much different after all.

This list will definitely help you pass time in transit, or awaken your mind in front of the fireplace or on the beach this winter break. We wish everyone a wonderful holiday season and a great start to 2020! See you next year!