2018-12-01 / BookBag

Booking the Holidays

Give the gift of reading with these picks from local librarians’ wish lists.
Maria Kenney Burchill | Schlow Centre Region Library

Do you celebrate Jolabokaflod? Even if you don’t remember the name, perhaps you’ve heard of Iceland’s “Christmas Book Flood,” or the tradition of giving books on Christmas Eve.  We librarians are overjoyed when we stumble across an author who strikes just the right note, and we love sharing these finds. So if you want to adopt the Icelandic book-gifting tradition, check out these recommendations from my colleagues. Maybe you’ve heard Brady, our district librarian consultant, reading his reviews on WPSU’s Bookmark? Everyone who comes to Schlow knows Miss Colleen at the first floor service desk. She’s well-known for honest reviews of the books she’s read and is often sought out by patrons looking for something new. Me, I enjoy humorous fiction with an offbeat vibe.

I stumbled upon Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple while I was hunting for books for our Afternoon Book Club. This quirky novel tells the story of Bernadette, a failed architect, who is hiding in Seattle from the notoriety brought about by her last project. Her daughter, Bee, attends a private school and Bernadette’s husband is a lauded software engineer working for Microsoft. It would seem they have plenty of everything. But when Bernadette goes missing, Bee is determined to track her down — all the way to Antarctica if necessary. Told in letters, emails and straight prose, the book is funny and unconventional. Easily one of my favorites this year.

Brady departs from his usual genre of historical nonfiction to recommend The Fall of Gondolin by J.R.R. Tolkien. “For a fan of Tolkien,” Brady tells me, “Gondolin was impossible to resist, especially as it will be the last tale posthumously published by Christopher Tolkien, the late author’s son. The work was a moving read charting the development of what Tolkien considered his third ‘Great Tale’ of the First Age of the Middle Earth legendarium.”

Normally, I can count on Colleen for a new thriller, but she surprised me with Jeff Shaara’s The Frozen Hours. Colleen says, “The title caught my eye because it dealt with the Korean War, especially the battle at the Chosin Reservoir. My uncle’s brother was in the service and present at Chosin. I’m familiar with Jeff Shaara’s work and his writing has improved since he wrote Gods and Generals and The Last Full Measure. I admit there were times that I had to put the book down because of tears and times of anger. Although this is a work of fiction, Jeff’s research is very apparent and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.”

Return to top