by Christy Gualtieri
In a few days we’ll be celebrating the arrival of 2019, but the end of the year offers a great opportunity to hunker down, find a few moments of peace and quiet, and lose ourselves in a really good book or two. Reading is one of life’s greatest pleasures and can (and should!) be enjoyed year-round, but in case you’re in need of some recommendations, here are five of my favorite reads for this early Winter season.
One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak
If you’re caught up in the stress of the hustling and bustling of the season, take a few minutes to grab B.J. Novak’s hilarious set of short (some are very, very short) stories. These tales are laugh-out-loud funny and will keep you chuckling as you remember them while you wait in an hour-long line to mail out gifts from the post office. Whether it’s a thoroughly-embarrassed hare challenging his nemesis, the tortoise, to a rematch race; a middle-school boy who finds out his rightful place in a sugar-cereal dynasty; or a Tony Robbins fanatic who will stop at nothing to make her fantasies a reality, you’ll bound to find a favorite. And the shortest stories are easy to read in between moments of holiday insanity – definitely a plus!
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Originally marketed to young adults – but great for readers of any older age – this thought-provoking, utterly dazzling work examines the importance of reading and literature as an unmeasurable gift to those who are suffering. The novel takes place in Nazi Germany and is narrated by Death (who, needless to say, has seen a lot of terrible things); he tells the story of a young girl who clings desperately to the life that reading gives her – even as she goes so far as thievery to obtain it. It’s best paired with a warm blanket on the couch and an endless supply of a hot drink as you read!
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
This is a favorite that I read every October; and although Halloween has come and gone, it still fits. Fall in love, just as Ichabod Crane did, with the drowsy beauty of Tarry Town and its magical inhabitants, and shiver delightfully as you hear the story of the Headless Horseman. The story itself is quite short, and makes for sumptuous reading. It bears little resemblance to the fantastical Tim Burton movie, but it’s a lot of fun just the same.
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
An innovative take on President Lincoln’s life, this novel places its focus on Lincoln’s young son, who died at a young age of an illness, and his time in the “Bardo,” the space in time many Buddhists believe exists after death but before being reborn. Told by a fascinating cast of characters, it’s dark enough to keep you interested but peppered throughout with moments of levity – and gives you a lot to think about in those moments of time you have to yourself during the holiday crunch.
Wintering by Kate Moses
Another book that aims for a biographical touch, Wintering focuses on the life of American poet Sylvia Plath and the few years before her death at age 32. Weaving through different time periods, the reader gains a sense of the frustration, loneliness, and sometimes despair of the anguished writer and her troubled marriage to English poet Ted Hughes; but the writing itself is intensely beautiful and razor-sharp, perfect for immersing yourself in during long wintry nights.
Check them out at your local library, see if you can catch a deal at your favorite book retailer, or ask a friend to borrow their copy! Happy reading!
Until next time, be well!