Take a little inspiration with you as you head home for the holidays this week. From touching real-life success stories to a classic Christmas short story, these tales will make the time fly as you hop on the subway—or the plane.
On Your Kindle
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), by Mindy Kaling
If this week finds you with a slightly longer-than-usual commute—say, a long train or plane ride home—relieve your holiday travel stress and liven up the glumness of the airport or train station with this hilarious memoir by The Office writer and actor Mindy Kaling.
Like fellow funny-woman Tina Fey, Kaling seems to say very much without actually saying much at all. She describes in hilarious and self-deprecating detail her rise from chubby nerdy kid to acclaimed comedy writer and performer, and her dry humor makes even the most menial of stories uproariously funny. And all the while, her glowing portrayal of her friendships with women she met in college—who’ve been with her through struggles and success—adds a moving touch to the memoir.
On Your Smartphone
Brothers Seek a Way Up and Out, by Billy Baker
At this time of year, it can be so easy to become wrapped up in gift wrap, holiday parties, and stressful shopping trips that we sometimes forget about those who are less fortunate. This week, turn to the fourth installment in the Boston Globe’s series of the city’s residents who commute on Bus 19, which traverses some of Boston’s more dangerous and impoverished streets.
This article, complete with complementary video, tells the story of Johnny and George Huynh, who ride the bus each morning to the Boston Latin School—one of the city’s most prestigious public schools. The boys live off food stamps and welfare checks, but they’re at the top of their respective classes, and Johnny, age 17, tutors Vietnamese middle school kids after school. Read this story of true struggle and motivation for some real inspiration this week.
On a Podcast
Hanukkah Lights 2011, NPR
For 20 years, NPR has hosted an hour-long radio segment dedicated to short stories about Hanukkah. In this year’s Hanukkah Lights, Susan Stamberg and Murray Horwitz read four stories—Nona Maccabeus, by Gloria DeVidas Kirchheimer, Ethics of the Fathers, by Tamar Yellin, First Day, by Elisa Albert, and Fidelis, by Erika Dreifus—that focus on the festival of lights. Lean back and listen to these quirky, touching stories on your way to work or to a holiday celebration.
The Gift of the Magi, by O. Henry
As the years pass, this charming short story by O. Henry remains a moving and relevant holiday favorite. The story is simple as it is short: Two newlyweds, short on money but tall on love for one another, trade their most prized possessions to buy Christmas gifts for each other. The ironic twist that ensues leaves readers with a stab of disappointment as well as the lingering sense that—and I say this with as much beloved cheesiness as I possibly can—selfless love is the best gift of all.