Staff Picks: Top Picks for Holiday Reading
Throughout the year some of us keep lists of those special books to save for cozy Christmas reading. With Thanksgiving behind us, and the weather turning colder, it’s time to welcome Christmas and settle down with these new and old treasures of the season.
Christmas Bells by Jennifer Chiaverini
Right after Halloween I start looking forward to reading holiday books, so I was very excited when one of my favorite historical fiction authors had written a new book. The carol, “I Hear the Bells on Christmas Day,” is based on a poem written during the Civil War, and the book focuses on both the history of the poem and a current day choir and their holiday production. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the poem “Christmas Bells” as he experienced both great heartache and gratitude during the war. His beautiful poem expresses the universal emotions many experience during wartime. Sophia, the present day choir director, chooses the carol for the seasonal production, and both her life, and the lives of many of the choir members are both affected and changed during this holiday. While I did notice a town in Fauquier County was misspelled, I thoroughly enjoyed this fascinating and heartwarming story.
∼ Veronica, Circulation, John Marshall branch library
Kissing Christmas Goodbye by M.C. Beaton
I always enjoy returning to the Cotswolds to visit with the middle aged curmudgeon Agatha Raisin and her friends and neighbors. “Kissing Christmas Goodbye” is a fun read, and uplifting, because no matter how badly your Christmas dinner goes, it can’t possibly be as bad as Agatha’s! A new character, Toni Gilmore, is introduced and she is beautiful, smart and from an unfortunate family background, drunk parents and an abusive sibling, much like Agatha’s own beginnings. Agatha rescues Toni and takes her under her grumpy old wing, with feelings of affection and a large dose of jealousy. A rich widow hires Agatha’s detective agency to discover who is trying to kill her. Everyone in the dysfunctional family seems a likely suspect. Detective Bill Wong, Aggie’s first friend in the Cotswolds, Roy Silver, Agatha’s former employee, who seems to specialize in showing up in bizarre attire, James Lacey, her handsome and unromantic ex-husband, Sir Charles Fraith, loveable and amoral and Mrs. Bloxby, the long-suffering vicar’s wife, all become involved in unraveling the mystery.
∼ Gloria, Library Associate, John Marshall branch library
Christmas With Tucker by Greg Kincaid
As a reader, I look forward to this time of the year when I can find my favorite chair, gather up a mind soothing Christmas book, and travel to a cozy place. Add a dog story to the mix and I’m happy. This year I found a winner, “Christmas With Tucker” by Greg Kincaid. Beautifully and simply told, this is the touching story of 12-year-old George, a boy dealing with the loss of his father and struggling to handle the responsibilities of a man while living and working on his grandparents’ dairy farm. Set in Kansas during the winter of 1962, it was a time when more was expected of children and growing up was often expected a little earlier. George reluctantly accepts the added responsibility of a neighbor’s nameless dog who suddenly becomes a temporary member of the family. Quickly named Tucker, George is surprised to find a companion in this gentle Irish setter, a friend to help him through his most difficult challenges. Tucker offers hope and courage to a boy as he struggles to quickly grow up. This is truly a coming of age story that touches on a young man’s love for his dog, his family and his farm. For those who share my love for Christmas and dogs, you might also want to check out A Dog Named Christmas, also by Greg Kincaid, the story of an adopted dog who changes the life of his family and an entire town forever. Merry Christmas and Woof!
∼ Deborah, John Marshall branch library