Holiday Reads for the Rest of Us

To get into the holiday spirit this year I’ve been cranking up the Christmas tunes, decorating the Christmas tree, and drinking hot cocoa while watching Home Alone, but when it comes to books I need something a little less sparkly and bright. I like to read realistic fiction – nothing against a good cozy mystery or a holiday themed romance, but I enjoy the struggle of real life in my reading. It helps me recognize what I’m thankful for and helps me feel less alone if I’m having a hard time. Here are some fiction reads, for however you spend the season, to bring some empathy, understanding, and maybe a little chaos.

Disgruntled: A Novel by Asali Solomon: “Kenya is teased mercilessly by her Philadelphia grade-school classmates for her Kwanzaa-celebrating family’s odd ways—and they don’t know the half of it.  Her father preaches “black anarchy” as the volatile leader of the Seven Days, a group he and Kenya’s mother, Sheila, who grew up in the projects and who supports her family as a librarian, has pulled together. Preternaturally observant and mordantly funny, Kenya is a hypnotic narrator coping valiantly with an increasingly bewildering life.” (Booklist) Continue reading “Holiday Reads for the Rest of Us”

Ideas for Book Giving this Holiday

Librarians give – and get – a lot of books this time of year. Seeing that familiar shape surrounded by festive wrapping is a special thrill. Sure, we know it is a book, but what book? We recently shared some ideas on how to choose good books for your loved ones. Now here are some titles we’re especially excited to be giving – or receiving – this year.

Mozart’s Starling by Lyanda Lynn Haupt. An uncommon look at a seemingly common bird, this is narrative nonfiction at its best. And, yes, Mozart had a pet starling. So did Haupt. From the Seattle author who brought you Crow Planet.  – Linda

Pie & Whiskey edited by Kate Lebo and Sam Ligon. These two Spokane authors have been hosting spirited literary events inspiring northwest authors to write poems, stories, and essays under the influence of butter and booze. The resulting anthology is funny, wise, insightful, irreverent — and handy. Fits in a (large) stocking!  – Linda Continue reading “Ideas for Book Giving this Holiday”

How to Succeed at Gifting Books this Holiday Season.

Books make the perfect gift, except when they don’t. Few presents are such a joy for a reader to open as a well-chosen book, but we all know that sinking feeling when a literary gift strikes out. Giving a book can be an emotional minefield, as the books we share are reflections our ourselves, bound up with our own values and sense of self. Rightly or wrongly, it is like giving a piece of yourself. For an amusing consideration of this, check out Jen Adams’ diverting collection The Books They Gave Me, which shares 200 anonymous accounts of literary gifts, and how wonderful and terrible those results can be.

The trick about bookish giving is to try to find something that your recipient will enjoy, rather than something you enjoyed. Continue reading “How to Succeed at Gifting Books this Holiday Season.”

Never mind Hallowe’en: Christmas is the Original Haunted Holiday.

It’s that time of year again – a time of ghosts and goblins, of sudden chills and flickering candle flames at the stroke of midnight, of frights and haunts and things that go bump in the night. No, this isn’t a leftover post from Hallowe’en. For the Victorians, the spookiest holiday of the year was Christmas. Here’s British writer Jerome K. Jerome in 1891:

“There must be something ghostly in the air of Christmas — something about the close, muggy atmosphere that draws up the ghosts, like the dampness of the summer rains brings out the frogs and snails… Nothing satisfies us on Christmas Eve but to hear each other tell authentic anecdotes about specters. For ghost stories to be told on any other evening than the evening of the twenty-fourth of December would be impossible in English society as at present regulated.”

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Continue reading “Never mind Hallowe’en: Christmas is the Original Haunted Holiday.”

Yuletide Cheer from the Archives

~posted by Jade D.

In the library’s digital collections, we have a wealth of materials (from photographs and postcards to artwork and newspapers) which give a glimpse into Christmas celebrations of the past. Continue reading “Yuletide Cheer from the Archives”