Before you take off on your next vacation, you might want to brush up on your sign language. You don't want to wind up insulting a cab driver you're trying to flag down in the pouring rain or anger the waiter bringing you your coffee.
So as you pack up your Lonely Planet guide, you might want to look at our book of the week: Don't Get Me Wrong: The Global Gestures Guide. It will show you how everyday gestures are interpreted in countries all over the world. Hopefully it will keep you out of trouble during your travels.
The Social Animal" by David Brooks
Brooks is, of course, a columnist for "The New York Times." But don't pick up the book expecting the usual political analysis. It's not that at all.
This is a profound meditation on what motivates human beings. What makes them win. What makes them succeed. What makes them love. What makes them relate to each other. It's a lot of neuroscience. Very well presented, wonderfully written.
The New Machiavelli: How to Wield Power in the Modern World by Jonathan Powell
The author is the highly intelligent former Chief of Staff to Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair. This is actually two books in one: an insider's view of life at 10 Downing Street and the decisions to go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan and a sort of a super self-help book on how to wield power, as the title suggests. Very intelligent.
The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years by Bernard Lewis
As events in the Arab world have transpired in recent weeks, I've been rereading some of my favorite books on the region. This week, I want to recommend to you Bernard Lewis' "The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years." It's actually a very short book and it's the single best general history of the Middle East that I've read. Buy it, read it, keep it on your shelf. You'll really enjoy it.