Written by Chad Creveling, CFA & Peggy Creveling, CFA 

It’s that festive time of year again! If you’re looking for a holiday gift for your favorite expat, have a look through our annual list of highly rated books from 2012, each selected with the expat reader in mind. All can be easily purchased on the Internet, and while some are more serious, some are just for fun. For those expats who may live far away, most of these titles have an ebook version available, which makes getting them to your friend or loved one that much easier.

Top 10 Books of 2012

Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler. “Diamandis and Kotler challenge us all to solve humanity’s grand challenges. Innovative small teams are now empowered to accomplish what only governments and large corporations could once achieve. The result is nothing less than the most transformative and thrilling period in human history.” –– Timothy Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Work Week

On the Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks by Simon Garfield. “…A rollicking sweep through map history, packed with curiosities and written with verve … On the Map will inspire you to take a trip to somewhere new, buy an antique globe to chart the rise and fall of empires, or just dig out a tatty orange Ordnance Survey Explorer map and let its filigree of contour lines evoke a long-forgotten walk in the rain … a great book.” –– Independent on Sunday (UK) (Note: Release date is 27 December 2012.)

Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander. “…More than just an awe-inspiring account of a profound encounter with spiritual reality. Dr. Alexander’s neuroscience career taught him that near-death experiences are brain-based illusions, and yet his personal experience left him dumbstruck. His honest struggle to make sense of this unforgettable journey is a gripping story, unique in the literature of spiritual experiences, that may well change how we understand our role in the universe.” — Bruce Greyson, MD, co-editor of The Handbook of Near-Death Experiences: Thirty Years of Investigation.

Religion for Atheists: A Non-Believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion by Alain de Botton. Blending deep respect with total impiety, de Botton (a non-believer himself) proposes that we look to religion for insights into how to, among other concerns, build a sense of community, make our relationships last, overcome feelings of envy and inadequacy, inspire travel, and reconnect with the natural world. “Quirky, often hilarious … Focusing on just three major faiths—Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism—[de Botton] makes a convincing case for their ability to create both a sense of community and education that addresses morality and our emotional life.” — The Washington Post

On Saudi Arabia: Its People, Past, Fault Lines, and Future by Karen Elliot House. From the Pulitzer-Prize-winning reporter who has spent the last 30 years writing about Saudi Arabia—as diplomatic correspondent, foreign editor, and then publisher of The Wall Street Journal—an important and timely book that explores all facets of life in this shrouded Kingdom: its tribal past, its complicated present, its precarious future. “Fascinating … House’s exploration of the inner workings of Saudi society adds considerable weight to her assertions that the problems of succession, the decline of oil reserves, and a population with limited opportunities for employment or self-fulfillment are potential powder kegs.” — Rachel Newcomb, The Washington Post

Korea: The Impossible Country by Daniel Tudor. Examines Korea’s cultural foundations: the Korean character; the public sphere in politics, business, and the workplace; as well as the family, dating, and marriage … Touches on topics as diverse as shamanism, clan-ism, the dilemma posed by North Korea, the myths about doing business in Korea, the Koreans’ renowned hard-partying ethos, and why the infatuation with learning English is now causing huge social problems. “As the reporter for The Economist, which doesn’t use bylines, most of his work is published anonymously. But Mr. Tudor’s profile is about to take a sharp rise with the publication of his new book … Mr. Tudor pushes into new social and economic territory with his book, including the rising role of immigrants, multicultural families and even gay people in South Korea. He lays out some of the contradictory behavior one finds in South Korea, such as the unending desire for new and trendy gadgets and fashion and yet the tunnel-like view of what constitutes a successful life.” — The Wall Street Journal

Burma: Rivers of Flavor by Naomi Duguid. Located at the crossroads between China, India, and the nations of Southeast Asia, Burma has long been a land that absorbed outside influences into its everyday life, from the Buddhist religion to foodstuffs like the potato. In the process, the people of the country now known as Myanmar have developed a rich, complex cuisine that makes inventive use of easily available ingredients to create exciting flavor combinations. “A treasury of Burma’s cuisine … Duguid’s portrait of Burma’s rich food heritage contains vivid glimpses of the people who create it along with cultural insight and a dash of travel advice.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

How the French Invented Love: Nine Hundred Years of Passion and Romance by Marilyn Yalom “Enchanting … At the heart of this delicious book is Yalom the reader, whose fascination with the French way of love and pleasure in sharing her enthusiasms is highly contagious. Readers will want to run to the library and stay there for a year, reading everything she deconstructs.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

Antifragile: How to Live in a World We Don’t Understand (in the U.S., Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder) by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Reveals how to thrive in an uncertain world—just as human bones get stronger when subjected to stress and tension, and rumors or riots intensify when someone tries to repress them, many things in life benefit from stress, disorder, volatility, and turmoil. What Taleb has identified and calls “antifragile” is that category of things that not only gain from chaos but need it in order to survive and flourish. “The most prophetic voice of all … (Taleb is) a genuinely significant philosopher … someone who is able to change the way we view the structure of the world through the strength, originality and veracity of his ideas alone.” — GQ

How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton M. Christensen, James Allworth, and Karen Dillon. In 2010, world-renowned innovation expert Clayton M. Christensen gave a powerful speech to the Harvard Business School’s graduating class. Drawing upon his business research, he offered a series of guidelines for finding meaning and happiness in life. He used examples from his own experiences to explain how high achievers can all too often fall into traps that lead to unhappiness. “…Spiritual without being preachy, this work is especially relevant for young people embarking on their career, but also useful for anyone who wants to live a more meaningful life in accordance with their values.” — Publishers Weekly

Creveling and CrevelingAbout Creveling & Creveling Private Wealth Advisory

Creveling & Creveling is a private wealth advisory firm specializing in helping expatriates living in Thailand and throughout Southeast Asia build and preserve their wealth. Through a unique, integrated consulting approach, Creveling & Creveling is dedicated to helping clients cut through the financial intricacies of expat life, make better decisions with their money, and take the steps necessary to provide a more secure future. For more information visit


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