Ah the holidays… they’re lovely, they’re fun, and they mean special time spent with family, friends and books. Books?
Yes, books. Following the opening of presents, the carving of prime rib and the savoring of the yule log, the days after the relatives have left can mean sinful, precious, pockets of time to read. During those brief spells when you do not want – or have! – to face the dishes, go back to school, work, or regular routines, there are sagas awaiting hungry eyes and tired psyches.
So, welcome to what is now an annual tradition at The Book Jam: a list of books we recommend reading during the peace that descends when the holiday bustle ends. We’ve added some books to our list that we, too, are hoping to tackle “after the relatives have left”.
(Please note that once again we are keeping it local and linking to our town’s gem, the Norwich Bookstore. Future posts will again link to the IndieBound site so that we can support independent bookstores nationwide.)
What We Have Read and Now Recommend to Others
The Art of Fielding (2011) by Chad Harbach. Reading this book is akin to watching a no-hitter unfold. You know something special and rare is happening and all you can do is enjoy. While baseball is important in this novel, so are friends and education and learning how to live a good and honorable life. ~ Lisa Christie
East of the Sun (2009) by Julia Gregson. This book caught me by surprise. I picked it up at a bookstore in a train station knowing nothing about it. It turns out it to have been international bestseller written by a Brit and though many people review it as a romance, I perceived it quite differently. East of the Sun is compelling historical fiction about four British women starting new lives in India in the 1920s. I lost myself in it and couldn’t do anything else but read for two days. ~Lisa Cadow
Hunting and Gathering (2007) by Anna Gavalda. Truly an original, uplifting (though it may not seem so at first!) book set in modern-day France and translated beautifully. It is a story of friendship and connection despite the busy life that swirls all around us. It leaves you feeling good about life. ~ Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie
Let the Great World Spin (2009) by Colum McCann. A great look at NYC and 9/11 and characters whose lives touch by coincidence, but whose impact upon each other is profound. ~ Lisa Christie
The Night Circus (2011) by Erin Morgenstern. This new, fast-paced novel is magic-filled and has a plot that keeps readers turning the pages. Author Morgenstern is a creative story-teller and a beautiful writer who tells the tale of an ephemeral 19th century circus with one-of-a-kind performers. It’s a love story, an artistic exploration of place, people, time and timepieces. Think of it as a circus themed Romeo and Juliet story with alchemy, sorcery and a very dangerous game at its core. ~ Lisa Cadow
What WE Hope to Read after the Relatives Have Left
11-22-63 (2011) by Stephen King – Because 1) I have heard once you get started you just can not put it down. And, I am intrigued by the thought of altering history so that JFK is not assassinated. I look forward to seeing if my version of what would happen instead is even remotely related to Mr. King’s. Because, 2) ever since reading On Writing by Mr. King, I have been a fan of his, even if I don’t usually pick up his fiction as I tend to think the news has enough terror for my life. Finally, because 3) reading this would expand my usual choices and experiencing an atypical genre is not a bad way to start a new year. ~ Lisa Christie
Lionheart (2011) by Sharon Kay Penman – Because I just finished one of her other tomes and would love to get lost in medieval England/France/Wales again. And, time is required for reading this; once you pick up one of her historical sagas, there is little room for anything else. ~ Lisa Christie
Sister (2011) by Rosamund Lupton. This book has been mentioned on many “best of” lists, enough so that I delved a little deeper. It seems like the kind of intelligent, suspenseful tale I look for when choosing a mystery. Besides, I am always up for a trip to present day London. ~Lisa Cadow
Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgiveness (2011) by Alexandra Fuller. Fuller is one of my favorite authors. I loved her last memoir of growing up in Africa in the 70’s and 80’s and look forward to learning more about her family and about mother’s experience in Zimbabwe. This is a writer not to miss.~Lisa Cadow
Other Recommended Reading – in the Form of a Blog – for after the Relatives Have Left (or Even For While They Are Here as It May Inspire a Good Meal or Two)
A Fork on the Road – http://forkontheroadblog.com. A SUPERB Blog about food and cooking. A great resource for those of you looking to try some new recipes for the new year or to go on some food adventures. Latest entry looks at the Met in NYC from the perspective of food. ~ Lisa Christie
What We are Reading Right Now and Loving
West of Here (2011) by Jonathan Evison. ~Lisa Cadow
The Rules of Civility (2011) by Amos Towles. ~Lisa Cadow
Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time (2011) by Mark Adams. ~ Lisa Christie