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by Shelley Awe | December 17, 2020

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If you find yourself with some down time this holiday season, you just might consider picking up a book for fun. After all, lawyers don’t often get the chance to read “just because”—the legal lifestyle of poring through dense materials all day, every day doesn’t exactly leave much time or energy for extra reading. But if you are taking some holiday vacation days, now is the perfect time to get around to some of those non-work-related reads on your list. I personally plan to use my vacation time for exactly that, so I asked a few lawyer friends for some of their book recommendations. If you’re looking for some book inspiration, this list, which is compiled from their suggestions, should be the perfect starting point. Happy holidays and happy reading!

The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein

The Color of Law is a factual account of the laws and government policies that led to systemic racism and segregation still present in the United States today—an important, educational addition to the conversations we should all continue to have as we grapple with social justice issues that came to the forefront this year.

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

Admittedly, I’m a little behind with this one, but the book seems like it’s a must-read. (In addition to multiple recommendations, its debut as a No. 1 New York Times Bestseller is a pretty good giveaway). The author shares her personal account of not starting formal education until age 17 because she spent her childhood working for her family who didn’t believe in public education. But that didn’t stop her from graduating from Brigham Young University and ultimately earning her PhD from Cambridge. It sounds like an inspirational read that also tackles some tough family topics.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Although reviews are mixed on this book—some readers report that the writing style is a bit hard to follow—I’m hoping that my experience reading convoluted case law will help me get through this one. (Not to mention, it sounds much more interesting than anything I’ve read on Westlaw.) The book is a historical fiction set in the sixteenth century, and it covers Thomas Cromwell’s rise to power in King Henry VIII’s court. It sounds like it has just the right balance of history and drama to make for a very compelling read.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

This book has been recommended to me so many times, not to mention was made into a movie a few years ago, so I think it’s time to finally read it. The book is also a sad one, so I’ll plan to read it alone with a box of tissues—but it may not be for everyone at the end of an already emotionally-draining year. Narrated by Death, the book is the coming-of-age story of an orphan girl growing up in Nazi Germany—her propensity for stealing books, including from Nazi book-burnings, is the basis of the book’s title.

A Promised Land by Barack Obama

In my attempt to be a little more on top of literary trends, this book has to go on my reading list. Barack Obama’s recently released memoir covers his life—from his early political days through the days of his presidency. On Goodreads, the book is described as compelling, riveting, personal, and intimate , so it sounds like a win .

Untamed by Glennon Doyle

Another recent release and No. 1 New York Times Bestseller, this book seems to be at the top of the list for many of my lawyer friends and their book clubs’ reading lists. The book is described as “both an intimate memoir and a galvanizing wake-up call.” Through her own life experiences, the author shares her message of following your heart instead of living to please others—sounds pretty liberating to me.

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Read a good book lately? We’d love to know about it and add it to the list! Email me at sawe@vault.com.

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