Book Buys for the Holidays

christmas-books-440x435At the request of my kids, I just handed off my Christmas wish list. The list gets smaller every year. That’s partly because I’m blessed with everything I could ever want (other than a spot on the NYT list and maybe a lottery win) and also because these last few years have taught me that the most important things in life truly are priceless: the loyalty of family & friends, good health, unconditional love.

That said, I was able to come up with a few suggestions for Teen Freud and Uptown Girl. Books were, to no one’s surprise, on the top of my list. I’m hoping to receive Jodi Picoult’s Leaving Time and a copy of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic.

Since I’ve tracked my reading again this year, I thought it might be helpful if I listed out a few of my favorite books to help you choose for the readers on your list.

For fiction lovers:

A Long Time Gone by Karen White.  A lyrical multi-generational novel set in the Mississippi Delta with themes of tradition, families, forgiveness and love. Multiple points of view from different time periods make this a contemporary as well as historical read.

In the Blood by Lisa Unger. For the suspense readers on your list. A twisted psychological thriller with secrets, lies and brisk plotting that will keep you reading late into the night.

The Late, Lamented Molly Marx by Sally Koslow. Molly is dead and watching from the hereafter as her loved ones try to discern if her death was murder, suicide or an accident. By turns hilarious and thought-provoking, this will appeal to anyone with an offbeat sense of humor and even a light interest in metaphysics.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. Women’s fiction with a touch of mystery, beautifully drawn characters and some laugh-out-loud scenes. A brilliant relationship read. Moriarty is becoming an auto buy for me.

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova. A literary read dealing with a serious theme and delivering an ultimately uplifting message. Badly injured in a car accident, self-proclaimed over-achiever Sarah Nickerson suffers a brain injury in which she’s completely incapable of processing anything on her left side. She can’t see, feel or recognize anything on that side of her body. Her left is neglected. A clever title and a clever read.

I was on a metaphysical YA kick this year and these two books stood out for me:

Guardian by Natasha Deen. Seventeen-year-old Maggie sees the dead and helps them go from bewilderment to the beyond. But one spirit will not leave until she figures out who killed him. And finding the answer might be the death of her. Great characterization, well-paced and lots of twists and turns.

Best Friends Through Eternity by Sylvia McNicoll. Fourteen-year-old Paige is killed at a railway crossing while taking a detour to avoid school bullies. She is quickly transported to a nether world where she sees Kim, a friend who died seven years earlier. Gifted with the opportunity to return to earth and relive her last days, Paige is determined to fix past mistakes and prevent her death. A beautiful story about friendship and choices, this book was hard to put down.

Shameless self-promotion time. My title The Art of Getting Stared At is now available in paper and makes a terrific stocking stuffer!

Finally, four suggestions for non-fiction lovers:

Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace by Anne Lamott. A collection of essays on faith, family and community. Lamott writes with wit and wisdom, and while some of the passages touch on difficult subjects in every case Lamott leaves the reader feeling hopeful and uplifted. Highly recommended.

Seven Letters from Paris by Samantha Verant. For those who adore both a love story and the city of Paris. The log line for this book reads: twenty years, seven letters, and one long-lost love of a lifetime. Love letters and a happily ever after fairy tale. What could be better?

King Peggy: An American Secretary, Her Royal Destiny, and the Inspiring Story of How She Changed an African Village by Peggielene Bartels.  An American secretary learns she’s been chosen to lead 7,000 subjects in a tiny fishing village on Ghana’s central coast. Returning to her ancestral home, she must blend her American sensibilities with the traditions of her native Ghana as she works to improve the lot of her countrymen. A fascinating glimpse into tribal customs and village life in Ghana.

The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House by Kate Anderson Brower. An intimate, behind-the-scenes look at life in the White House seen through the eyes of the staff who serve. Insightful anecdotes about presidential families from the Kennedys through to the Obamas are presented along with archival information. Well-written and entertaining, I was sorry when this book ended.

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