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Showing posts from December, 2018

Best Books of 2018

Initially, I wasn't sure that I would go through the painful exercise of generating a best books list again this year. I had not intended that my Best Books of 2017 post from last December would become the first of an annual tradition. But two things happened over the course of this past month to change my mind. The first was the annual onslaught of lists of the best books of the year, which included wide-ranging choices from newspapers and magazines I respect (just to share a few: NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, The New Yorker). Once again, I found myself surprised, bemused and kind of disappointed by the titles on the lists, and even more so by the titles NOT on the lists. The second thing that happened was that I started making a list of my favorite books of the year in my head, not deliberately, but almost instinctively. Once I had done that, I could not resist writing the list down and then looking at it, tinkering with it, adding a few, deleting …

Thursday Night Book Club -- December, 2018

With just a few days to go until Christmas Day, the Thursday Night Book Club gathered on Thursday, December 20th to discuss Charles Dickens' classic and enduring tale of the holiday, A Christmas Carol. The first of five Christmas books written by Dickens in the 1840s, A Christmas Carol is one of the best known and most loved of all of Dickens' books. It tells the story of the transformation of Ebeneezer Scrooge, that "squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner," from a tight-fisted curmudgeon into a generous and kind man. Scrooge's metamorphosis is brought about by a series of visitations, first from his famously dead ("Marley was dead, to begin with") partner Jacob Marley, and then from the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. These spirits remind Scrooge of happier days, show him the generosity of others in times of adversity and terrify him with dire visions of his future if he does not change his ways. Di…

Holiday Reading

Time for a confession: I have a soft spot for books that take place over the holidays. They may be just a tad formulaic, but many of these novels do such a good job of conjuring up the best aspects of the holiday season (snow, cold weather that hasn't gotten annoying yet, wrapping presents, hot chocolate and mulled cider and eggnog, holiday cookies, thick, warm sweaters, fireplaces, good will towards man and so on) that I forgive them their predictability. Reading one of these books is like pulling on your favorite cozy socks and curling up on the couch under your favorite soft blanket. You know that you'll feel warm and fuzzy when you've finished.

Some authors, like Debbie Macomber, Fern Michaels, Richard Paul Evans, Jill Shalvis, Susan Mallory and Anne Perry, just to name a few, reliably churn out a holiday book every year or so. These novels tend to be the book version of a Hallmark made-for-TV movie. There is the inevitable romance, which often starts off very poorly,…