For sharing and giving: Christmas traditions, joy abound in holiday books


By John Hoover Good Reads1 copy

As Christmas rolls around, we at Misty Valley Books tend to revert to our much younger selves and experience again the excitement of the approaching holiday. This month’s recommendations will not only make great gifts, but they will add to the joys of the season and your holiday traditions.

A Christmas MemoryLynne recommends Truman Capote’s classic memoir, A Christmas Memory ($15.95). “It’s all about what Christmas should be — love, good friends and the joy of giving, all set in the 1930s south. Another perennial favorite is How the Grinch Stole Christmas ($15) by Dr. Seuss. I can’t wait to read this tale about the Grinch and little Cindy Who out loud to my grandchildren.”

Bill’s pick for a family read is Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood ($16.95) which he says “we have often read out loud in our family at Christmas. The narrator invites the audience to listen to the dreams and thoughts of the inhabitants of a fictional small Welsh fishing village Llareggub (“bugger all” backwards). It’s funny and touching.” Vermont Farm to Table
Ever ready with ideas for the kitchen, Amanda suggests we look to Vermont for the perfect gift for the foodies on your gift list. She says The Vermont Farm Table Cookbook: 150 Home Grown Recipes from the Green Mountain State ($19.95) is “an excellent gift for the cook who’s interested in Vermont farms and food purveyors.”

An Otis ChristmasJory has some wonderful recommendations to enhance a child’s Christmas experience. First, An Otis Christmas ($17.99) by Loren Long. “Otis, the tractor, is back for this holiday tale. Otis must journey through lots of snow in order to fetch the doctor as his friend, the horse, has her baby. Otis might be an old model, but he’s the only one that can save Christmas.” Her second suggestion is The Twelve Days of Christmas by Jan Brett ($6.99). “Get your singing voice out for this beautifully illustrated version of The Twelve Days of Christmas, in board book format.” Her third recommendation is Tomie dePaola’s Joy to the World ($24.99). “Practically a holiday classic by now, dePaola’s collection of holiday songs and stories is full of well- and lesser-known Christmas tales. Accompanied by dePaola’s trademark colorful, folk-style illustrations this book is a must-have in the days leading up the holidays.”

Kim recommends a bit of history. Silent Night ($15) by Stanley Weintraub is “about the spontaneous truce that broke out along the trenches Silent Nightof WWI during Christmas, 1914. The amazingly true story of camaraderie among enemies, when for one brief moment in time ‘The War to End All Wars’ really did do just that.” A perennial favorite of Kim’s is Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol ($1.50). Kim says it is “by far the Dickens’ work I’ve read the most. Christmas isn’t Christmas without it.” For the Christmas at the Mysteriouschildren in the family, Kim’s thinks The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus ($14.95) by L. Frank Baum is a Christmas classic. “Originally published in 1902, it’s the magical history of how Santa came to be. From a baby boy discovered in a forest and raised by Nymphs, he grows into a toymaker who gives generously to children, and is eventually bestowed the Mantle of Immortality by the fairies. With the magic of Baum’s storytelling, you can’t help but think this is Santa’s actual biography, rather than a fanciful legend. Christmas magic at its best.”

As for my recommendation, I’m suggesting Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop, ($14.99) Otto Penzler, ed. As the owner of the Mysterious Bookshop in NYC, Penzler commissions a short mystery each Christmas to give as gifts to his regular customers. The only stipulations given to the authors are that the story be set during the Christmas holiday and include his bookshop.

Next month we’ll highlight some favorite fiction for a long winter’s evening. But for the remainder of this month Merry Christmas from all of us at Misty Valley Books.

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeGood Reads

About the Author: After a 35-year career as a high school social studies teacher, John Hoover and his wife, Sally, retired to Vermont. He lives in Windham where he serves as a Justice of the Peace and Library Trustee. He works part time as a book-seller at Misty Valley Books, is active at St. Luke's Episcopal Church and sings in several choral groups.

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