Happy Holidays from DCI

December 11, 2023

Happy Holidays from DCI!

Over the past year, DCIers have embraced our core value “Be a Knowledge Sponge” both in and outside of the office. We have read some incredible books that have challenged us to learn new skills, understand different perspectives and grow as creatives. As the holiday season approaches, we’ve compiled a list of just a few of the books that have left a lasting impact. Whether you pick one for yourself or for someone on your gift list, we hope it offers as much enjoyment as it offered us. Happy reading!


Picture of Obama and Cody Keenan on cover of the book Grace

Grace: President Obama and Ten Days in the Battle for America by Cody Keenan

Recommended By: Andy Levine, Chairman

Grace is an amazing book by Cody Keenan, Chief White House Speaker under President Barack Obama. The book provides an inside look at ten days in the Obama Administration when a series of high stakes speeches were prepared in June 2015. The backdrop is Obama’s eulogy for the victims of a white supremacistic shooting in Charleston, South Carolina and the astonishing act of forgiveness by the victim’s families. The speech is best known for the President spontaneously leading the congregation in a chorus of “Amazing Grace.” I read it in two days and put off all sorts of important assignments to finish it.

Christmas poinsettia red flowers in a floral garland isolated on white. Holiday arrangement.

Distant row boat containing 9 men sitting in the water at sunriseThe Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

Recommended by: Julie Curtin, President

I enjoyed this book so much I’ve read it twice! While part of the reason may be that I was a rower in college and could literally feel my heart rate increase as the author so aptly described the gliding of the seat and the “catch” of the oar, but you don’t have to be a rower to enjoy this New York Time’s best selling story about the extraordinary journey of Joe Rantz, the son of a mechanic during the Depression, as he joins the rowing team at University of Washington in the 1930’s. Through an unlikely series of events – and plenty of grit – Joe and his U of W teammates compete in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin and despite all odds, win the gold medal as they beat out Adolf Hitler’s German rowing team. This book is about rising above your circumstances. It’s about hard work, and it’s about team work. I highly recommend this book for you, and anyone on your holiday list who loves competition, history and seeing the under dog win!

 

Christmas poinsettia red flowers in a floral garland isolated on white. Holiday arrangement.

Red, blue, yellow, pink and green abstract painting of a woman's face

Olga Dies Dreaming: A Novel by Xochitl Gonzalez

Recommended by: Daniella Middleton, Senior Vice President and Partner

In her debut novel, Xochitl Gonzalez, takes readers through the history and politics of Puerto Rico through the eyes of Olga, a Puerto Rican from Brooklyn who is trying to live out her verision(s) of the American Dream. The nuanced novel shines light on corruption, capitalism, and social issues while telling the story of complicated parenting, search for love and the desire to be accepted. After finishing the book, I felt like I had read three separate novels, and I also appreciated the author’s love letter to the Brooklyn neighboorhoods that she grew up in, which are one that she and I have in common.

 

 

Christmas poinsettia red flowers in a floral garland isolated on white. Holiday arrangement.

Gold and black book cover with dragons flying in and out of the title "Fourth Wing"

Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros

Recommended by: Susan Brake, Senior Vice President and Partner

Nostalgic for the Harry Potter mania that hit the world starting in 1998 and beyond? Or were you a fan of the Divergent and Hunger Game series back in the day? Well, let me introduce you to the adult version of these tales that has self-described fantasy nerds, such as myself, besides themselves as they wait in lines outside bookstores and in library queues to get their hands on the two books in this epic series. This story is set in a world where college students compete (oftentimes to death) to become dragon riders for their country’s military. This tale follows the perspective of Cadet Violet Sorrengail, who was originally meant to spend her life amongst the books before fate threw her in the literal fire, and her harrowing training as she tries to stay alive. If you decide to pick this book, be forewarned there is some spice that might make your grandma blush. If that disclaimer doesn’t scare you off and you pick it, let me know and I’ll add you to the chain we have going on at DCI with multiple fans of this series. Nerds unite!

 

Christmas poinsettia red flowers in a floral garland isolated on white. Holiday arrangement.

Red, blue, green and orange oil painting of a marsh

The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese

Recommended by: Dariel Curren, Executive Vice President

For anyone who loved Abraham Verghese’s Cutting for Stone, his new novel, “The Covenant of Water,” is every bit as good – albeit quite a commitment at 736 pages long. The book is set on South India’s Malabar Coast and follows three generations of a family spanning nearly eight decades starting in 1900. It’s an ode to love and loss, hardship and joy with a good dose of medical progress mixed in. The writing and the imagery of bygone India are transportive. It’s a great read when you want to escape for a few hours!

 

 

Christmas poinsettia red flowers in a floral garland isolated on white. Holiday arrangement.

Gold, tan and black book cover of Atomic Habits

Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones by James Clear

Recommended by: Taylor Bologna, Senior Account Executive

Atomic Habits delves into the science of habit formation, emphasizing the cumulative effect of making tiny changes over time. I highly recommend this book to anyone seeking to enhance productivity, as it has really helped me incorporate new, healthy habits into my professional and personal life.

 

 

Christmas poinsettia red flowers in a floral garland isolated on white. Holiday arrangement.

Black and white book cover with blonde woman wearing jeans looking to the camera

The Woman in Me by Britney Spears

Recommended by: Nick Reshan, Account Director

The memoir of a pop star (the greatest entertainer to ever live, if you ask me) might seem like an oddball next to books on leadership and effective habits, but hear me out. Britney chronicles the grit it took to achieve international stardom, to get out of an exploitative conservatorship and to find peace. Her story is ultimately about resilience, the power of optimism and staying true to your values no matter the obstacles you encounter — morals that apply to our communities, our professional roles and most importantly our day-to-day lives. And if that comes alongside a few dishy celebrity stories, so be it!

 

 

Christmas poinsettia red flowers in a floral garland isolated on white. Holiday arrangement.

Abstract drawing of a woman in orange and yellow sixties style attire carrying a bagThe Barbizon: The New York Hotel That Set Women Free by Paulina Bren

Recommended by: Elizabeth Borsting, Account Manager

If you enjoy history and architecture, The Barbizon: The Hotel That Set Women Free by Paulina Bren, goes behind the storied doors of this once glamorous NYC property . Opened in the late 1920s at a time when women’s roles were clearly defined, The Barbizon was a haven for young females as well as a brief opportunity for independence before they married. Families sent their daughters to live at this womens-only residential hotel–where men were not allowed to venture beyond the confines of the lobby– to attend Katherine Gibbs Secretarial School, work as shop girls or earn a living as models. For decades, some two dozen college coeds were selected by the executives at Mademoiselle to spend a month in NYC as guest editors – of course, they all resided at The Barbizon. Most of the residents were not household names when they arrived, but many went on to become famous actors, poets and authors, including Grace Kelly, Ali McGraw, Joan Didion and Sylvia Plath (which prompted me to reread Ms. Plath’s only novel, The Bell Jar, a fictionalized account of her time at The Barbizon).

 

Christmas poinsettia red flowers in a floral garland isolated on white. Holiday arrangement.

Picture of three simple Italian dishes in neutral colored bowls and plates

Ottolenghi Simple: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi

Recommended by: Gabi Sandler, Senior Account Executive

SIMPLE from celebrity chef Yotam Ottolenghi is the perfect cook book for avid foodies, those looking to expand their repertoire or are looking to take baby steps into the kitchen. Each letter represents a different attribute: Short on time, Ingredients 10 or less, Make ahead, Pantry, Lazy and Easier than you think. Don’t let the name fool you… these recipes may be SIMPLE but they are absolute show stoppers, whether it’s for your family, a dinner party or just a quiet, solo night at home. It’s my go-to gift for almost every occasion!

 

 

Christmas poinsettia red flowers in a floral garland isolated on white. Holiday arrangement.

Abstract drawing of a wave with rainbow letter's spelling the book's title "Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow."

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

Recommended by: Robyn Domber, Senior Vice President

I am not a gamer at all but adored this story of two friends who bond over video games when they meet in the hospital as children. Spanning thirty years, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Venice Beach, California, it follows Sam and Sadie’s personal and professional journey as they build a blockbuster video game together and navigate the challenges it poses to their relationship. It is absolutely a (non-traditional) love story but also provides an inside look at the fascinating world of video game design! Beautifully written and a wonderful story about friendship!

 

 

Christmas poinsettia red flowers in a floral garland isolated on white. Holiday arrangement.

Gray cover with a small black dot inside a big circle

The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin

Recommended by: Nyon Smith, Copywriter

Ahh, this book title feels like a warm blanket, doesn’t it? And it should, because The Creative Act is built on the premise that good ideas are outside of us. To find them, we simply need to first make ourselves available to them by limiting everyday distractions. Full of bite-sized chapters that can easily be applied to any creative challenge, the book opened my mind to a new and freeing way of approaching projects and expressing thoughts. One of my favorite allegories from the book was about how an AI system defeated a grandmaster in four out of five chess matches — not by pure computational intelligence and processing power, but by following the fixed rules of the game instead of culturally accepted maneuvers.
Christmas poinsettia red flowers in a floral garland isolated on white. Holiday arrangement.

Dark blue cover with yellow letters and orange people and airplanes going in and out of teal airplane windows

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Recommended by: Brittany Borsanyi, Senior Director

I was on the fence about reading The Midnight Library because of its somber plot, but after spotting a copy at my local library and hearing so much hype about it, I couldn’t put it down. The story follows a 35-year-old British woman, Nora Seed, who is in search of the life where she’s the happiest. Each chapter takes you through Nora’s “what could have been,” versions of her life – different careers, places, people, everything. If you occasionally like to reflect with the question “what if?,” then this is a great read for you. It’s quick, quirky and thought-provoking.

 

Christmas poinsettia red flowers in a floral garland isolated on white. Holiday arrangement.

Cream and black cover with a feather floating above the word "air"

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Recommended by: Katie Crocilla, Digital Paid Media & SEM Manager

Pulitzer Prize Finalist and #1 NYT Best Seller, if you’re looking for a good cry, “When Breathe Becomes Air” is your book. At only 36 years old, neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi is diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer and begins work on his memoir. He talks about his career, his family, his dreams and the goals that he knows he will not be able to pursue given his circumstances. I reread this book every few years as a reminder to not take anything for granted. Kalanithi writes, “Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on.’”

 

Christmas poinsettia red flowers in a floral garland isolated on white. Holiday arrangement.

White upper left corner and yellow lower right corner

Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender by David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D.

Recommended by: Katarzyna Jezak, Senior Account Executive

This book takes readers through the method of surrendering negative beliefs and self-imposed limitations on their quest of personal growth and self-improvement. Dr. Hawkins illustrates the extent to which what we hold in our minds affects our physical reality and why it is so important to move away from treating the after-effects of stress, but focus instead on its root causes. I love the way this book made me think more deeply about the mind-body connection and the tools we all have at our disposal to change our lives with a simple shift in attitude.

 

 

Christmas poinsettia red flowers in a floral garland isolated on white. Holiday arrangement.

Orange cover with a blonde woman's face wearing sunglasses looking to the left

Lessons in Chemistry: A Novel by Bonnie Garmus

Recommended by: Rachel Deloffre, Vice President, Creative Services

Lessons in Chemistry follows the story of Elizabeth Zott, a brilliant chemist turned cooking show host and accidental overnight celebrity as she works to support her daughter as a single mother. The novel takes place in the late 50s and 60s and has a little bit of everything: a sweet romance, true friendships, a crushing tragedy, a real window into motherhood, the battle of women in the workplace, crushing family secrets and so much more. The characters are brilliant, the plotline, fresh. This book made me laugh out loud, brought tears to my eyes and inspired me. I couldn’t put this one down, and apparently Apple TV agrees, as they just turned it into a TV series.

 

Christmas poinsettia red flowers in a floral garland isolated on white. Holiday arrangement.

Whimsical painting of a young boy chasing after as magical rabbit flying overhead

Willa the Wisp (The Fabled Stables Book #1) by Jonathan Auxier

Recommended by: Monica Hershberger, Account Manager

As a parent of a 4 year old, I’ve reached that magical moment when read aloud chapter books hold a sacred space in our bedtime ritual. The Fabled Stables series by Jonathan Auxier is designed to be read aloud with your little one, immersing yourselves in the world of the Fabled Stables, a magical building filled with on-of-a-kind creatures that the main character, Auggie, cares for with his trusty, curmudgeon side kick, Fen—literal stick-in-the-mud. The series is a whimsical adventure for everyone, captivating the whole family with beautiful artwork on every page. It’s clever and fun, full of friendship, mischief, and did I mention the Hippopotamouse?

 

Christmas poinsettia red flowers in a floral garland isolated on white. Holiday arrangement.

Eerie cover with a woman's paper mached face being unpeeled

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Recommended by: Patience Fairbrother, Vice President, Talent Attraction

No, this isn’t a pun about my name, but I have been on an absolute KICK with thrillers this year, so if you’re looking for a page-turner with twists, you’ve come to the right place. Alex Michaelides is a master of the psychological thriller and weaves his British–Cypriot background into his debut novel, The Silent Patient, which centers on the silent patient herself. Alicia Berenson is a famous painter, who seemed to have it all until she inexplicably murdered her husband. She hasn’t spoken a word since. Told through the lens of her criminal psychotherapist, the book is full of fascinating details and twists. If you’ve already read this one, I recommend Michaelides’ second book, The Maidens, which more heavily incorporates the themes of psychology and Greek mythology into another thrilling tale.

 

 

Christmas poinsettia red flowers in a floral garland isolated on white. Holiday arrangement.

Grainy drawing of Trevor Noah against a blue background

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Recommended by: Arunima Dey , Digital Paid Media & SEM Manager

I read this book a few years ago and followed it by listening to the audiobook. Hearing Trevor Noah narrating his own story felt both powerful and emotional. The way the book talks about race and poverty is heartwrenching. I think it’s a must read as it talks about living through Apartheid and the effects it had on him, his family and his people. His journey to what he has been able to achieve is truly inspiring but most importantly he talks about a time in history that should never forgotten. He narrates with poise and humour and I highly recommend this book.

 

Christmas poinsettia red flowers in a floral garland isolated on white. Holiday arrangement.

Yellow abstract line art behind teal letters on a cream cover

For Small Creatures Such as We: Rituals for Finding Meaning in Our Unlikely World by Sasha Sagan

Recommended by: Hanna Gbordzoe, Vice President, Digital

I received this book as a wedding present and absolutely loved it. Whether or not you’re celebrating a life milestone, this is one of those books that is great to read year over year. During the holidays, it’s especially relevant as people start and continue new traditions with their families. As the world feels very go-go-go, this book helps ground us in our shared experiences from being human – which to me is very inspiring and ties back to the place making industry of promoting and supporting communities around the world.

 

 

Christmas poinsettia red flowers in a floral garland isolated on white. Holiday arrangement.

Green cover with a Christmas tree standing in the snow in the center

The Christmas Tree by Julie Salamon and Jill Weber

Recommended by: Cindy Hudson, Research and Insights

Reading this book is a holiday tradition for me. It is the story of Rockefeller Center’s chief gardener and his annual quest to find the ideal Christmas tree. He finds the perfect tree on the grounds of a convent, only to learn that it holds a special place in the heart of one of the nuns who won’t let it go. The gardener’s zeal to cut down a tree is replaced by a friendship as unexpected as it is deep. A quick and easy read, this sweet story will fill your heart with the Christmas spirit. Make sure you have tissues close by because you’ll need them!

 

 

 

 

Christmas poinsettia red flowers in a floral garland isolated on white. Holiday arrangement.

Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, from Birth to Preschool by Emily Oster

Recommended by: Carly Steele Johnson, Director, SEM & Media

For my fellow working parents, whether you’re expecting your first child or have a little one in school, Emily Oster’s ParentData book series gives you the data to make the best decisions for your family. Parenting, unfortunately, doesn’t come with a guide book, but this series comes pretty close. If you’re a data nerd like me, Oster is an award-winning economist who has evaluated studies and data to give you the information to navigate pregnancy and birth, baby and toddler years, school years and beyond.

 

 

 

Christmas poinsettia red flowers in a floral garland isolated on white. Holiday arrangement.

 

Paint swatches of all the colors in the rainbow

Pantone: The Twentieth Century in Color by Leatrice Eiseman

Recommended by: Allison Babka, Public Relations Account Manager

“Pantone: The 20th Century in Color,” may seem like an oldie, but with recent reprints, stunning visuals and timeless writing, this book is still very much a goodie. I’m a sucker for color theory and historical timelines, and Pantone combines both beautifully here. In this coffee-table book, Pantone distills 100 years into visual palettes based on its color-matching system that most designers adhere to. History markers such as the earthy destination posters of the 1920s, the somber uniforms of World War II and the muted grunginess of the 1990s are represented, with plenty of context to bring both the eras and the colors to life.

 

Christmas poinsettia red flowers in a floral garland isolated on white. Holiday arrangement.

Blue covers with multiple red umbrellas

Visual Intelligence: Sharpen Your Perception, Change Your Life by Amy E. Herman

Recommended by: Hannah Lajara, Account Executive

Visual Intelligence by Amy Herman will teach you how to perceive and communicate better. By showing people how to look closely at images, dissect details and dimensions, it helps readers tap into their “visual intelligence” and make better observations. In this book I learned that there’s no such thing as “obvious” because people interpret things differently, sometimes even different from what the image is trying to convey. The author highlights a skill to recognize things beyond physical objects that one may be missing and gives pointers on how this skill can be used in the medical and police enforcement field. This book helped me to pay more attention, not just with images or streets signs, but also on behaviour of other people, how they dress or how they speak.

 

Christmas poinsettia red flowers in a floral garland isolated on white. Holiday arrangement.

The Go-Giver, Expanded Edition: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea by Bob Burg and John David Mann

Recommended by: Tayo Kolade, Project Manager

It tells the story of a young, ambitious salesman named Joe who learns the secrets of success from a wise mentor named Pindar. Here are my key takeaways from the book:
1. Your success is directly tied to how much value you provide to others.
2. The more you give, the more you receive.
3. The law of compensation: the more you contribute to others’ success, the more successful you’ll be.
4. Focusing on the needs of others creates a more fulfilling and prosperous life.
I recommend this book because it provides a refreshing and powerful approach to achieving success that focuses on giving rather than taking.

Christmas poinsettia red flowers in a floral garland isolated on white. Holiday arrangement.

Picture of two sets of Black hands pouring sauce into multiple bowls of food

The World Central Kitchen Cookbook: Feeding Humanity, Feeding Hope by José Andrés

Recommended by: Nkechi Mitchell, MICE Sales Manager

Nothing beats the love and time put towards planning a beautiful lunch or dinner with family and friends. Experimenting with food allows me to travel without leaving home. I love chefs, travel, and acts of service. This book captures of all that through the wonderful work of José Andrés’ organization. Andrés, who was born and raised in Spain, operates 31 bars and restaurants in the US and around the globe, has three James Beard Awards, two Michelin stars, and a Nobel Peace Prize nomination. Inspired by a trip to Haiti in 2010, he founded World Central Kitchen to feed home-cooked meals to folks in response to humanitarian, climate, and community crises. Today, the organization has cooked 300 million meals in over 30 countries.
Written by

Julie Curtin

President, Economic Development Practice