10 best books of November: the Monitor's picks

Art, history, biography, memoir, current events – November's best books offer a bit of each. Here are the 10 books that the Monitor's critics judged to be at the top of the heap this month.  

1. "Three Minutes in Poland," by Glenn Kurtz

Glenn Kurtz discovered an old family movie in his parents’ house. It dated from 1938, when his grandparents took a grand tour of Europe, visiting Paris, Rome, the Swiss Alps, and his grandfather’s hometown of Nasielsk – a Jewish village in Poland later destroyed during the Holocaust. Working with the three minutes of film his grandfather left behind, Kurtz was able to re-create the last happy days in Nasielsk before the Nazi occupation. Kurtz’s tenacious research and sensitive reporting make this book a gem. You can see the Monitor's full review of "Three Minutes in Poland" here.

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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.”

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