Kindle the spirit of the Christmas season with these Good Reads

Good Reads1 copyBy John Hoover
©Telegraph Publishing LLC — 2014

At the beginning of December, we seem to find ourselves wondering how we’re ever going to complete all the things we need to do before the Christmas holiday arrives. Whether you want to plan a holiday menu, are looking for gift ideas or want to learn more about the holiday itself and why we celebrate it the way we do, our December Good Reads column is sure to help.

Louisa Mae AlcottTo  get into the holiday spirit, Lynne suggests A Merry Christmas ($16), one of five Christmas books by Penguin out this year. “A Merry Christmas is full of stories by Louisa May Alcott and was wildly popular at the time of its publication. These stories have wonderful details of Christmas in 19th century America, and are timeless embodiments of the Christmas spirit. Other classics in the holiday collection include stories by Trollope, Gogol, Dickens and Hoffman.”

Bill chose a work by a Vermont author that is becoming a classic to be read Favor Johnsonyear after year. “My favorite book this time of year is Willem Lange’s Favor Johnson ($16.95). It’s a very moving tale of neighborliness and generosity in a Vermont village at Christmas. Lange’s text is brought to life by the wonderful watercolor illustrations of Bert Dodson. No handsomer, more authentic, more touching book ever.”

Jory’s selection for our Christmas Good Reads is Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem ($9.95), by Maya Angelou. “Maya Angelou’s poem,Maya Angeloubeautifully illustrated, reminds us all that peace is possible, and the holidays are a perfect time for this. A lovely book, as well, that will help us remember Angelou’s passing in May 2014 and honor her this holiday season.”

Sylvan chose two books that each capture a very different aspect of the holiday season. The first is David Sedaris’ Holidays on Ice ($10). “You know all the things about the holidays you never dare admit to loathing for fear of being labeled a Scrooge? Sedaris covers them all. This series of widely inappropriate, yet undeniably true essays, range in topic from becoming an elf Sedarisat Macy’s department store to the horrors of attending a children’s Christmas pageant.”
Her second choice is The Greatest Gift ($9.99) by Philip Van Doren Stern. “Even if you’re familiar with It’s a Wonderful Life, the film adapted from this story, the original version may well surprise you. This 53-page book can be read in less time it takes to watch Capra’s classic, but I’d recommending finding a way to do both this year.”

Amanda and Kim have holiday meals and treats on their minds. Amanda says, “An excellent Christmas gift for the cook on your list is Cook’s Meat BookIllustrated/America’s Test Kitchen latest cookbook, Meat Book ($40). I cooked the Modern Beef Burgundy for a party recently and it was excellent. Last night I prepared the Maple-Glazed Pork Tenderloins for friends who raved about it. Many of the recipes offer flavor variations so you can stick with what you like or try something new. Illustrations of the different cuts of beef and poultry are excellent.  For vegetarians, Super Natural Every Day ($23) by Heidi Swanson would be a perfect gift. And, finally, Ina Garten’s latest cookbook, Make it Ahead ($35), is great!”

Cookie CompanionNot to be out done in the cookbook department Kim says, “While my cookbook reviews can’t compete with Amanda’s, I’m going to recommend the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion ($24.95) as my favorite collection for Christmas cookie baking. Filled with not only great cookie and brownie recipes (perfect for holiday parties or cookie exchanges), but also packed with loads of additional baking hints and advice. From tips on ‘how to get the best results from rolled sugar cookie dough’ to ‘what’s the best type of molasses to use, and why?’ Lots of substitutions and variations on classic, holiday essentials are a part of this great cookbook. (And a trip to their amazing retail store and bakery in Norwich, VT also makes a great holiday treat!)”

Battle for ChristmasHave you ever wondered where all the customs we associate with Christmas originated? My choice, The Battle for Christmas ($17.95) by Stephen Nissenbaum, is a wealth of information concerning how the traditions surrounding our celebration of Christmas developed. From the Puritans outlawing celebration of the holiday to our present revelry, this book is packed with the wonderful details of our history that help us to understand our present.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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.

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Comments are closed.