One thing I love about the holidays is that I can share my love of reading and all things book-related through gift giving. In my holiday message to readers I share information about the presents I'm giving this year, plus some tips for gifting ebooks. Click here to read more!
I wish you and yours the happiest of holidays filled with stories that inspire and delight you.
Because I am a reader and a writer, chances are if you’re on my gift list, you’re going to get a book for Christmas! I have some serious readers in my circle of friends and family, and I am very particular about the books I give them. Fortunately, for all the readers in the world, there is always something to choose from, whether it’s an anticipated new release (The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek), or a small, quiet book from my past (The Two Pound Tram) that I know others will also appreciate.
Sometimes, I end up finding one book that I know everyone will love. Last year it was Matka, by Sarah Hanley. The year before that it was The Forgetting Tree by Tatjana Soli. And this year? Well, now, if I tell you, it won’t be a surprise, will it? But if you really want to know, click here.
To help you find the perfect book for everyone on your list, I’ve compiled a list of 101 books I love. There is a little bit of everything: general fiction, historical fiction, science, historical non-fiction, middle-grade and young adult, suspense, cozy mystery, sweet romance, biographies, and of course books about dogs. Enjoy!
I have always been someone who likes to see the seasons turn: You could probably could have guessed that since I named the main characters after each season in my Finch's Crossing sweet romance series!
Though I love all seasons, fall is by far my favorite. It's a time for reflection as the world around us prepares for its hibernation, just like we prepare to enter a slower time of life. In fall, one color slips into another until everything is white and grey. The sweet air of summer is replaced with that certain crispness that is a combination of dropping temperatures, disappearing humidity, and chimney smoke. The season is full of so many vibrations that tantalize all the senses: The sound of crinkling leaves; the pungent smell of freshly picked apples; the myriad of colors on gourds and pumpkins, and of course the spicy taste of caramel apples and pumpkin pie (and the anticipation of Halloween candy!).
I have many, many reasons to love fall. And yes, I am a sentimentalist when it comes to pumpkins, cider and fall festivals. Below I share with you my top 10 favorite reasons to love fall, along with resources and ideas to tickle your Autumnal side!
10. Fall 5k and 10k Charity Races. I love to run...once I've started. Let's face it, we all need a little motivation to exercise now and then. So I sign up for a race once or twice a month to keep me in shape. After all, I don't want to be the last one across the finish line, although honestly, I run to finish, not to win. Find a race in your neck of the woods!
9. No more bathing suits. Enough said!
8. School supplies and stationery. Is it just me, or do notebooks purchased from September through November have magical powers? My absolute favorite supplier is Minneapolis-based Russell+Hazel.
7. Soup! Gone are the days of cold cucumber soup. Say hello to creamy potato leek, hearty bean and vegetable, and my absolute favorite, spicy Mulligatawny. Serve it with a warm Sourdough roll and you'll think you've gone to food heaven.
6. A cozy fire on a brisk fall night. Alas, I have to settle for gas logs. If you're lucky enough to have a wood-burning fireplace, be sure to check out this safety checklist.
5. Pie. Need I say more? Check out Martha Stewart's 25 Perfect Pies.
4. Pinterest! I love collecting new ideas for fashion, decorating, gifts, and the like. Check out my Pinterest board for fall decorating ideas.
3. Fall Festivals! I love being outside with the colors and flavors of the season. And of course the Christmas shopping potential. And the baked goods! See the Travel Channel's list of the Best Fall Festivals in the United States.
2. Nature's autumnal bounty! Can you say pumpkins, gourds, mums, bittersweet, chestnuts, acorns, and dried leaves all in one breath? Here are some tips for prolonging the life of your decorative gourds.
1. Publishers announce their new fall releases. This means new books to read. Lots of new books to read!
It's funny where our minds go, and the connections and associations the holidays bring. The past few days I've been thinking about some of my favorite children's/YA books and remembering some of the Christmas scenes from them. At the risk of sounding corny, they make me feel all warm and fuzzy, and ready to curl up by the fire and read the stories all over again!
Here are four of my favorites:
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1935
A dear friend of the Ingalls family, the wily Mr. Edwards battles the elements and a flooded creek so he can bring Christmas presents to Laura and Mary.
[Laura] heard Pa piling wood on the fire, and she heard Mr. Edwards say he had carried his clothes on his head when he swam the creek. His teeth rattled and his voice shivered. He would be all right, he said, as soon as he got warm.
"It was too big a risk, Edwards," Pa said. "We're glad you're here, but that was too big a risk for a Christmas dinner."
"Your little ones had to have a Christmas," Mr. Edwards replied. "No creek could stop me, after I fetched them their gifts from Independence."
What Katy Did by Sarah Chauncey Woolsey (pen name Susan Coolidge), 1872
Once flighty and selfish, an accident caused Katy to become an invalid for a number of years, and she gains a new, mature perspective on life. In one scene, her aunt gives her $5 before Christmas, because she knows that Katy will want to use it to buy gifts for her siblings.
"I didn't know what to give you for Christmas, Katy," she said, "because Helen sends you such a lot of things that there don't seem to be anything you haven't already. So I thought I'd give you this, and let you choose for yourself. But if you've set your heart on getting presents for the children, perhaps you'd rather have it now." So saying, Aunt Izzie laid on the bed a crisp, new five-dollar bill!
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, 1869
The Christmas morning where each of the March girls receives a little book under their pillows, from their mother:
Then [Jo] remembered her mother's promise and, slipping her hand under her pillow, drew out a little crimson-covered book. She knew it very well, for it was that beautiful old story of the best life ever lived, and Jo felt that it was a true guidebook for any pilgrim going on a long journey. She woke Meg with a Merry Christmas, and bade her see what was under her pillow. A green-covered book appeared, with the same picture inside, and a few words written by their mother, which made their one present very precious in their eyes. Presently Beth and Amy woke to rummage and find their little books also, one dove-colored, the other blue, and all sat looking at and talking about them, while the east grew rosy with the coming day.
Caddie Woodlawn, by Carol Ryrie Brink, 1936
Set in Wisconsin in the 1860s. The Woodlawn children run wild and have high adventures that typically get them in trouble. On one occasion, spunky little sister Caddie falls through the ice and has to spend Christmas in bed, subdued and chastised by her mother, who is always scolding Caddie for her tomboy antics.
Christmas came and went while Caddie was still recovering. She had intended to spend some of her silver dollar for presents, but it still lay snug and safe in the wooden trinket box, because she was not able to take it to the store. They hung their stockings by the fireplace on Christmas Eve and Santa Claus came down the chimney here in Wisconsin, just as he did in Boston and St. Louis. But the apples and nuts which he packed around the toys were strangely like those which they themselves had picked.
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!