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Good Reads

‘Tis the season to read


Giving books for holiday gifts is both fun and smart. Every year I give books to almost everyone on my gift list. Especially the children. As a result, our children and grandchildren are voracious readers. I even delight in talking to my teenage granddaughter about the latest young adult books that she and her friends are reading. In fact, she and I often read the same books.
You can pick books you think the recipient would like — histories, biographies, poetry or imaginative novels. There are genres for everyone, but you can also select books that you have read and loved and want to share with them. Many of these books are for the whole family to enjoy together during the holiday season.
These are a few suggestions for those on your holiday gift list.
1. A NATURAL HISTORY OF MAGICAL BEASTS by Emily Hawkins (author), and Jessica Roux (illustrator)
Following “A Natural History of Fairies,” “A Natural History of Magick” and “A Natural History of Mermaids,” all illustrated by Jessica Roux, this is a must-have book for children and adults. It shares tales of magical creatures, and challenges us to ponder if these stories are merely fairy tales, or if there is a hidden truth to the legends of unicorns and dragons, centaurs and griffins? Best of all, Jessica is from Fayetteville though she now lives in Nashville. We applaud the wonderful success of our hometown artist.
We all knew that John Glenn (1921-2016) was a pilot, shot down over Vietnam and held captive for years. But did you know that baseball great Ted Williams (1918-2002) was also a pilot? And that these two American heroes flew together in the Korean War and became lifelong friends? Although they led very different lives before they met while flying several missions together in Korea, they developed great respect for each other. We learn Glenn was a risk-taker who often attracted enemy fire. Williams was a solid flyer who survived several dangerous incidents. In the process, we learn more about two of our American heroes whose lives intersected and began an enduring friendship during the trials of war.
3. WHAT DO YOU CELEBRATE? HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS AROUND THE WORLD by Whitney Stewart (Author), and Christiane Engel (Illustrator)
Holidays are fun and what better time to help children learn about other celebrations around the world? This illustrated book also offers projects for children ages 5 to 9 to use to see what children across the globe do during their special holidays. From Chinese New Year to France’s Bastille Day and our own 4th of July, even adults can learn how 14 special holiday traditions are passed down from generation to generation around the world.
4. CHRISTMAS & HANUKKAH by Betsy Richardson
December is the time for Hanukkah and Christmas around the world. If you are Christian, do you know much about Hanukkah? Do our Jewish friends know about all the Christmas traditions? This book offers a wonderful look at how all these traditions developed. And we learn that although the events that led to these holidays are unrelated, they share similar origins. We also learn how they are uniquely celebrated in different cultures around the world.
5. THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS RECORDABLE EDITION: A RECORDABLE STORYBOOK by Clement Moore (Author), and Charles Santore (Illustrator)
How many of us grew up hearing and reading “The Night Before Christmas”? Many of us even memorized parts of it. This edition allows you to record yourself narrating the book for your loved ones to hear! How exciting it would be to record yourself and send it to your grandchildren to hear your voice reading this beloved story!
6. THE DEAL OF A LIFETIME by Fredrik Backman
If you read “A Man Called Ove” or “Beartown” by beloved author Fredrik Backman, you will want to share this collection of three of his stories. Backman is back with an array of mesmerizing stories about discovering and treasuring what truly is important in life.
The first, “The Deal of A Lifetime,” is a profound and moving novella set on Christmas Eve. A man who has everything but lost his family while gaining his wealth meets a little girl who is fighting for her life. Can he change his legacy? The next, “And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer,” an elderly man reminisces with his son and grandson and recalls some of his most precious memories and regrets. As he does this, he realizes the best gift he can give them is to help them learn to say goodbye with no fear or regrets.
The last is Backman’s newest work, “Sebastian and the Troll” — a lovely story about a young boy struggling with depression who finds the courage to live the life he deserves.
Backman’s stories remind us that life is a gift that we need to share with those we love the most.
7. THE VALANCOURT BOOK OF VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS GHOST STORIES by Arthur Conan Doyle (Author), Sir Walter Scott (Author), and Tara Moore (Editor)
During the Christmas season in the Victorian era, newspapers and magazines printed ghost stories for families to read to each other by the fire during cold winter nights. This book brings together a collection of thirteen of these tales by an eclectic group of writers, many anonymous or forgotten. If you fondly remember Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol,” you will love this wide range of stories that will send a pleasing chill down your spine.
Whether you buy any of these books for yourself or to give as gifts to friends, you can rest assured you are doing something special.

Whether meant to be read alone during the hectic holiday season or read together with the family, these books can become family treasures, to be brought out every year to share with each other and become a family tradition.