Let these books lure you happily into the spirit of Christmas

Good ReadsBy John Hoover
© 2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

As December rolls around once again the staff at Phoenix Books Misty Valley are reminded that lots of our customers need to find that perfect gift for this holiday season. Each of us have come up with a book or two that we think would either be a good gift or help to bring Christmas alive for you.

cooking-for-jeffreyAmanda starts off our Christmas column with a book that would either make a great gift or provide the reader some wonderful ideas for the Christmas feast. “Regular readers of this column will know that I frequently recommend cookbooks and this month I’m suggesting Ina Garten’s latest Barefoot Contessa cookbook, Cooking for Jeffrey ($35), as an excellent gift or addition to your own collection.  So many delicious recipes!  Her pumpkin flan was on our Thanksgiving table and it was delicious. Also, I can’t wait to try the fig and goat cheese bruschetta.  The pictures are beautiful, in keeping with all her books, and the recipes are clear and concisely written.  As of this writing, Cooking for Jeffrey is an independent bookstore bestseller!”

christmas-cookie-swap-and-stickerKim recommends a couple of books that she thinks would be great for Christmas. “For the December edition of Good Reads I have two selections. The first taps into my compulsion to bake at the holidays, and my perpetual hunt for new and exciting cookie books. Christmas Cookie Swap! ($19.95) is this year’s find.

“Gems like Bourbon Pecan Blondies and Peppermint Shortbread Thins looked far too good to pass up! And for those who enjoy the ‘adult coloring book’ craze, I’d recommend the Paint by Sticker ($19.95) books. They’re a new take on the old paint-by-numbers you remember from your childhood, but using number stickers instead. Equal parts relaxing, frustrating and addicting, but something both young and old can enjoy.”

polar-expressSara made sure to think of our younger clientele. “One of my favorite Christmas stories, and one that I highly recommend, has to be The Polar Express ($19.99) by Chris Van Allsburg. A boy rides a train to a land of Christmas joy. Through a series of adventures and misadventures the lessons that will help him throughout his life. The Polar Express is a wonderful book to read as an adult or to children. Grab some hot chocolate with marshmallows and enjoy!”

rex-stoutWendy’s recommendation for our Christmas column is And Four to Go ($7.99) by Rex Stout, the author of the Nero Wolfe mystery novels. “Nero Wolfe is the quintessential armchair detective. Brilliant, corpulent and cranky, he is a gourmand and rare orchid collector as well as a detective genius. Archie Goodwin is Wolfe’s assistant and housemate, and the narrator of these stories. Goodwin is not just a counterpoint to Wolfe; he has a sharp eye and sharper tongue, and it’s his voice, his style and aplomb that bring the reader back for more. I’m a long-time unabashed fan of these addictive mysteries. To me, they are a perfect blend of classic mystery attributes, good writing and pure entertainment. The stories are all set in the 1930’s, and author Rex Stout expertly evokes the era. Befitting our Christmas theme And Four to Go is a collection of short stories that take place during the holiday season.”

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is re-reading A Christmas Carol ($17.99)by Charles Dickens. I further-adventures-of-ebenezer-scroogealways come away with a renewed sense of what the Christmas spirit is all about. So when I saw a copy of Charlie Lovett’s The Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scrooge ($13) I just couldn’t resist. We all know that Ebenezer Scrooge, at the end of A Christmas Carol, was totally reformed and, as was said of him, he “knew how to keep Christmas well.” But weighing heavily on Scrooge’s mind is what would become of his former partner, Jacob Marley, who was doomed to spend all eternity in the chains he forged in life. Scrooge decides to assist Marley’s ghost in helping others see the wrong in their behavior, which will help free Marley of his chains and thus begins the tale of Scrooge’s further adventures. Written in a very Dickensian style, The Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scrooge is a fitting sequel to the original.

All of us at Phoenix Books Misty Valley hope that you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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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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  1. Maureen Bell says:

    Lovely suggestions all! The bruschetta sounds great, as do the Nero Wolfe novels.