11 best books of December, according to Amazon's editors

Looking for a holiday read for yourself or a gift for a voracious reader? These are the best new titles this month, hand-picked by Amazon's editors. Amazon’s editorial director of books and Kindle Sara Nelson tells us why they were chosen.

9. 'Empress of Fashion: A Life of Diana Vreeland,' by Amanda Mackenzie Stuart

The first full-length bio of the fashion visionary, “Empress” weaves the fascinating story of Diana Dalziel Vreeland, an Upper East Side girl who goes on to work at Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where her fearless imagination and radical innovation helped reinvent the way we think about style. “Diana Vreeland was a great character, an iconoclast, a champion for women,” says Nelson. “She was a firebrand... irresistible, manipulative, narcissistic... She was a lot, and this book was a lot.”

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

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