Merry Christmas Week! Today I return for #AMonthofFaves– Week 3. Please be reminded that I chose not to partake in the prompts for every day they are given; instead, I am selecting the prompts from that week that I wish to respond to and including them all in one weekly post. Another casual reminder here that #AMonthofFaves is being hosted by GirlsXOXO and TravelingwithT. The original post announcement can be located here. All book title links will take you to their information on Goodreads. While you’re there, go ahead and follow me! (Insert winking emoji here)
The prompts are #AMonthofFaves Winter Reading (Dec. 16), #AMonthofFaves [The Blog and IG Love Edition] (Dec. 18), and #AMonthofFaves This is How We Holiday (Dec. 20). I’m going to be skipping both the prompts for the 18th and 20th, as I will be releasing a blog post specifically based on my holiday celebrations separately later this week. That being said, let’s hop to Winter Reading!
I love a good seasonal read. I’m not actually very good at reading seasonally, but I LOVE the concept. For example, I often find myself in the middle of beach reads when there’s snow on the ground, which seems to set one up for personal disappointment. My ONLY exception to this failure is my attempt to read holiday-based books around the Christmas season and month of December. This month I have been reading Little Women, and it is taking far longer than I would have liked, but c’est la vie.
- The Sugar Queen, Sarah Addison Allen: This isn’t my favorite SAA book, but it’s still one of her books, so I loved it anyway. Also, there are lots of sweets and candies mentioned, which is fun, as well as a book that keeps showing up magically whenever one of the characters needs it (even if they don’t want it there). You don’t find a lot of magical realism in modern literature, so that’s an extra treat.
- The Golem and the Jinni, Helene Wecker: I read this on Kindle, and my husband listened to the audiobook. We can confirm that both are worthy of recommendation. I didn’t think about it, but this also has a little magical realism, so that’s fun! It has mystical and magical characters that you will absolutely fall in love with; in addition, it places them in the middle of New York City at the turn of the century (1899, specifically). It’s cliched to call NYC a melting pot, but you definitely are able to see the way different groups and neighborhoods collide. It’s a treasure, and unlike anything else I’ve read lately.
- As Bright as Heaven, Susan Meissner: This was a Book of the Month pick for January of 2018, but I didn’t get around to reading it until April of this year. It’s set during the Spanish Influenza epidemic of 1918 in Philadelphia and chronicles the events for one family during this year. It’s a family story, a mother-daughter story, a sister story, a historical fiction story. Call it what you like, but it was my first Meissner book and I liked it well enough to buy a few others.
- Snow: A Retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Lynn Tracy: I was obsessed with the Once Upon a Time series when I was young adolescent (my favorites were The Storyteller’s Daughter, The Night Dance, and The Crimson Thread). I had nearly each of the books in the series, and I just devoured them. One specific Christmas I remember my mom giving me an entire box of books (this was uncommon; my mom isn’t a reader), and most of them were included. It was wonderful. This one specifically is an urbanized retelling of Snow White. It’s pretty good, and surprise surprise, features magical realism. The evil queen is incredibly sinister, and the ragtag bunch of dwarves are charming and unique. Winter’s Child is another book in this series that would be perfectly suitable for winter reading.
- Beartown and Us Against You, Fredrik Backman: I love these books. Beartown is an absolute all-time favorite, and Us Against You made me cry more passionately than any other book I read this decade. If you haven’t read them, I’m judging you. They are based around the hockey teams of a small Swedish village (Beartown) and the players/coaches/affiliated family and community members of the team. It’s a cold, economically bleak place, but the people of Beartown have heart and grit. These books are so amazing.
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis: I read the Chronicles of Narnia series for the first time last year! I had read this book specifically in the second grade. In fact, I read the entire thing aloud because my librarian asked someone to volunteer during library hour to read aloud, and then no one else would, so I did the whole thing. That’s the type of 8-year-old I was. With confidence, I can say that this is my favorite children’s series. I don’t think the first book (The Magician’s Nephew) is that interesting, but the rest are pure gold. Of course, this book occurs in Narnia, where it is always winter but never Christmas under the rule of the White Witch. As Aslan returns to Narnia, the snow and frost begins to thaw and life returns to the land. Beautiful, symbolic, FUN. Such great books.
- The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living, Louise Miller: This is SOLIDLY in my wheelhouse of catnip reading– books about food and love and cooking and baking. I loved reading this book. Olivia Rawlings was a fancy big-city chef who has to move to the countryside of Vermont after setting her place of employment on fire. She takes a job at a local inn (the Sugar Maple Inn, specifically), and begins baking for the guests. The housing for the job includes a sugarhouse (think small shack in the woods) with her massive dog and hijinks ensue. It’s so fun. Think a more fun version of Kitchens of the Great Midwest. A little like Little Beach Street Bakery, but in wintry, woodsy Vermont. I loved this book.
- Our Endless Numbered Days, Claire Fuller: Time for a turn. This book is depressing and relatively horrifying. It’s quiet and sad, and fictional (so that makes it just a smidge less sad, but still really upsetting). In this book, Peggy is an eight-year-old girl living in London in the 1970s with her radical, survivalist father and talented musician mother. Her father takes her from her home into the woods and tells her that the entire world has been destroyed and they are left to survive. In the woods, she spends years secluded with her father in a small hut before finding her way home. The last portion of this book is so troubling that I couldn’t make myself give it more than three stars. I will say, though, that it is memorable and engaging and totally captivating. There is beauty within the book, but there’s also great pain.
Looking at this list, I really ran the gamut of emotional/genre reading. That’s exciting! Some of my favorite authors are also on this list, so apparently I can’t get away from recommending them. Oh, well. This has been fun.
Until next time, happy reading!