To mark the end of the year – as is now traditional on the blog – we asked people across the company to share something they’d found interesting this year. We’ll be publishing the responses on the blog between now and New Year’s Day.

Anita Beveridge, Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother

The most touching book I have read this year was Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother by the journalist and author Xinran. In it she extends her exploration into the implications of the one child policy first touched upon in her seminal work The Good Women of China (also a ‘must-read’). The tales Xinran recounts are heart wrenching and enchanting in equal measure, and remind us of the emotional implications of the Chinese social policies which are too often only viewed through an economic lens. It is a wonderful read, but have a box of tissues to hand.

Tom Morley and Ann Clurman on layaway angels

‘Layaway’ is a way in which Americans can purchase an item without paying the entire cost at once. But the item stays in the store until it’s completely paid off. We’ve noticed several articles about strangers paying off layaway bills anonymously on behalf of people who can’t afford to do this themselves. It’s a tangible example of the growing economic divide in the United States, this country; the story speaks to the fact that people recognize the divide (it’s not just the economists, demographers and market researchers) and want to help. And it’s not about approbation and  applause. One of our MONITOR themes this year, “Small Is Getting Bigger” is about avoiding grand, sweeping gestures, to stay clear of the grandiose. These good samaritans already know that.

The image above comes from the First Preston HT blog, and is used with thanks.

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