Snow is on the ground: cue the Christmas panic!
This year, it’s books for all! (Oops, sorry family: Spoiler Alert!)
Since I work in a candy bookstore, it’s hard to resist bringing my work home with me. The hubby says a little willpower is a good thing. I say: I have tremendous willpower! I rarely bring home more than three books at a time. (Except that day last week when I somehow came home with eight… shh!)
According to my beloved, overflowing bookcases are “messy.” He asks the question ‘how many books does one person need?’ and thinks the answer is a finite number. Preferably a low one.
The true answer is: all of them.
However, putting “All the books” at the top of my Christmas list seems to make some people anxious and a tiny bit annoyed, so here is my handy Christmas shopping trick: buy books for everyone you know, but buy them the books you want to read yourself. Then borrow, borrow, borrow!
Wondering what books to get your lucky family members this year? Here’s my list of xmas recs:
For the Fiction Aficionados:
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett. Because it’s Ann Patchett. And because it is so good. Why wasn’t this book on all the award short lists? And why didn’t it win? Life is a mystery. And this book is about life, and the people in our lives, and how they affect us, and the things we share and the things we don’t. Not to get ahead of myself in terms of blog posts, but Commonwealth is definitely on my list of Top 16 Books of 2016…
Hagseed by Margaret Atwood and Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler. Both reimagined Shakespeare, both part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series. Loved them both. Hagseed is a retelling of The Tempest and is Atwood at her clever and comical best. Vinegar Girl is The Taming of the Shrew and is classic Anne Tyler: a seemingly simple story told compellingly well.
For your Nothing but Non-Fiction Lovers:
Seems like every celebrity worth his weight in hardcovers jumped on the bio wagon this year. Wayne and Don and Wendell and Darryl have cornered the hockey market, but there’s also Rowdy Roddy for the Wrestlemaniac in your life, Shoe Dog and Elon Musk, for the behind-the-scenes peek at the movers and shakers of major corporations (Nike and Tesla/Space X), and Brian Wilson, Phil Collins, and, of course, Bruce, for the music fans.
If you need to narrow it down to say, one, I suggest Bruce. You can’t go wrong with Bruce.
For those in your posse who prefer their prose to be poetic:
Wigford Rememberies by Kyp Harness. His way with words and ear for dialogue put you smack dab in the middle of a small town Canadian farmhouse kitchen. Written by a Canadian singer and songwriter, the characters will continue to haunt you long after you’ve think you’ve left them behind.
For those who like some history with their mystery:
Agatha Christie: An Autobiography. If a certain member of my family is still reading this post, (and you know who you are) she is herewith forewarned not to purchase this book for herself prior to December 25. No reason. Just saying.
For everyone else, this is probably my most highly recommended book of the year. Really! First published in 1977, it is well-written, humourous, and engaging. The fact that Agatha Christie wrote close to 100 books is almost beside the point compared to the life she led when she wasn’t writing.
For those who just can’t get enough of Game of Thrones:
Half a King; Half the World; Half a War; by Joe Abercrombie. The Shattered Seas trilogy. Three books, and nowhere near as long as the Song of Ice and Fire saga. Viking-esque, with palace coups and displaced royalty, intrigue and hardship, heartbreak and romance. No dragons though…
Blood Song; Tower Lord; Queen of Fire by Anthony Ryan. The Raven’s Shadow trilogy. Three books, Medieval-esque political intrigue, still no dragons, but hints of magical powers…
And for the age-groupers on your list:
For toddlers and their tamers:
Boss Baby by Marla Frazee. Because the baby is the de facto CEO of the family.
We found a hat by Jon Klassen (also, I want my hat back and This is not my hat). Because the illustrations are genius.
The day the crayons quit by Drew Daywalt. Because who doesn’t love a story about complaining crayons?
For those who like their books with pics:
If the nine-to-twelves on your list have already read the Raina Telgemeier books (Smile, Sisters, Drama, Ghosts) check out Rollergirl by Victoria Jamieson. Because it combines a great story with roller derby.
And if you’ve exhausted Diary of a Wimpy Kid, then I highly recommend Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis. A detective, a polar bear, and a Segway. And that’s only the first three chapters. It gets even better.
For your voracious teen readers:
Teen lit seems to come in two flavours these days: sci-fi/fantasy and the rest. Stay tuned for a longer post on teen reads that everyone should read, but in the meantime, here is a teaser of some of my current favourites:
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. Strong female protagonist puts the ‘kicks ass’ in ‘assassin’.
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. Witches, clairvoyants, bad boys, ley lines, and a curse. The first in a four-part series. Must. Keep. Reading.
Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton. Djinn, Nightmares, Skinwalkers, a runaway girl and a mysterious boy. This is another one of my top picks of the year.
The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis. Heart-breaking and raw. Two words that generally send me running far, far away, but I’m glad I stayed for this one. A book about murder, vengeance and love.
Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella. Snappy, sad, funny and fast. A shout-out to shut-ins and a great read about overcoming inner obstacles.
I could go on, but some of us like to get our Christmas shopping done early, so I’ll stop here. Let me know if there’s anything I’ve forgotten to put on my list!