Long Story Short: Reading is a good thing

Since I started writing this column back in 2002, I’ve complied a list of holiday recommendations. I try to find books fit for curling up by the fire or wrapping up under the tree. I do my best to put together a list that covers the bases – classic titles combined with contemporary, books that stretch and books that comfort, books for the young, old and in-between.

Here are my recommendations for this holiday season:


  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson. If you haven’t heard of this book, chances are you will continue to hear about it in the future. There’s just no way a book that’s this much fun to read won’t turn into a blockbuster hit. It’s a thriller set in Sweden. It takes more surprising and smart twists and turns than I’ve come across in a while. However, I must warn you that the book has a couple of incidences that were troubling. It’s certainly not all fun and games, but I highly recommend the book.  
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. This book is about hope and the good things that come from art and literature. It’s set in post-World War II Guernsey Island, a small island in the English Channel that was occupied by the Germans during World War II. It’s an epistolary – a book written in letters. However, the letters aren’t between two people. They’re written by a cluster of people, often about the same events.  
  • For Twilight lovers, I’d recommend trying Stephenie Meyer’s acknowledged Jane Austin counterparts. All of Meyer’s Twilight books follow similar plot lines to Austin’s vampire-less work.  
  • For the teen and twenty-somethings who are into graphic novels, I recommend Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. It’s an unexpected wise and heartbreaking memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution.  
  • For the little ones, I have two favorites this year. Both are worth reading aloud over and over and over.  Joseph had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback won the Caldecott Medal in 2000. There’s much to be learned from Taback’s tale of re-using and making something out of nothing when necessary.

    Big Plans by Bob Shea and Lane Smith is so much fun to read that it will stick in your head for weeks, or in my case, months.