Tom Higgins, corporate vice president:
"Peter the Great" by Robert K. Massie (Random House).
"This wonderful biography is particularly useful now because it gives a sense of the essential conundrum that Russia faces even today, the attempt to graft Western concepts and ideas, which Peter the Great introduced, to a country that is hardly Western."
Frank Hammond, maritime supervisor:
"The Street Lawyer" by John Grisham (Doubleday).
"I've read most of his books, and the plot is normally the same, but for this one, he went out and interviewed the homeless. The result is a powerful book that demonstrates that when lawyers represent those less fortunate, we are all being helped."
Angela Johnson Meszaros, environmental activist:
"Metro Politics" by Myron Orfield (Brookings Institution Press).
"Orfield is a Minnesota state legislator with an unusual vision of how cities grow and tax bases shift. His studies showing the distribution of people and money have been the basis for tax reform in the St. Paul area."
Andy Friedmann, computer consultant:
"Green Mansions" by William H. Hudson (Airmont Publishing).
"This classic, told by an aging man narrating a chapter of his youth, takes the reader on a spiritual search into the heartland of Venezuela. This almost poetic read is richly rewarding for all ages and times."