The Christmas season has become the beginning of my “reading year.” Over the Christmas holiday, I try to find, make, or steal time to do some reading — usually fiction, often something on the lighter side. Not always though: sometimes a well-written easy-reading nonfiction book does the trick just fine. This practice forces me to take time away from the computer and break the normal patterns of daily life at a time when there’s a lot of additional activities and festivities going on, so a little extra disruption can be a good thing as well. The mental break is a fantastic exercise as well, and a good rest for me. It also renews a reading-habit, and if I am able to build up a little “reading-momentum,” I tend to blast through a few titles during January as well.
I don’t actually tend to read as much as people think — but people tend to think I read a lot, so I still read more than the average. It comes of enjoying my reading, but not actually reading as fast as I should. Not entirely sure why that is.
Nevertheless, I’m examining a list of books that make up my options for holiday reading.
Through Black Spruce: A Novel, by Joseph Boyden. (I see it won’t be out in the USA until March, but it’s available at Amazon.ca; Canadian cover on right.) This won the Giller prize for 2008 (Canada’s top literary prize, for those not in-the-know), a first for an Aboriginal/Métis author.
From internationally acclaimed author Joseph Boyden comes an astonishingly powerful novel of contemporary aboriginal life, full of the dangers and harsh beauty of both forest and city. When beautiful Suzanne Bird disappears, her sister Annie, a loner and hunter, is compelled to search for her, leaving behind their uncle Will, a man haunted by loss.While Annie travels from Toronto to New York, from modelling studios to A-list parties,Will encounters dire troubles at home. Both eventually come to painful discoveries about the inescapable ties of family. Through Black Spruce is an utterly unforgettable consideration of how we discover who we really are.
Presently one of the books I have on-the-go is The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry. (Oddly, Amazon.com has only the audio versions; links are to Amazon.ca.) I should be finished this one before the holidays, and it’s an interesting read. It was nominated for the Man Booker this year, though it didn’t take home the prize. I decided last year that I needed to be sure to read something that transcends pop-fiction each year, something well-written and acknowledged as such. The book “pits two contradictory narratives against each other in an attempt to solve the mystery of a 100-year-old mental patient. That patient, Roseanne McNulty, decides to undertake an autobiography and writes of an ill-fated childhood spent with her father.” The other narrative is in the voice of Dr. Grene, who
has been asked to evaluate the patients and decide if they can return to society. Roseanne is of particular interest to Dr. Grene, and as he researches her case he discovers a document written by a local priest that tells a very different story of Roseanne’s life than what she recalls. As doctor and patient attempt to understand each other, they begin to uncover long-buried secrets about themselves.
Set against an Ireland besieged by conflict, The Secret Scripture is an epic story of love, betrayal, and unavoidable tragedy, and a vivid reminder of the stranglehold that the Catholic Church had on individual lives for much of the twentieth century.
Next up is Jack Kerouac’s classic, On the Road. I started this a couple of months back, then set it aside for other things. I would still like to read it though, it having passed through its 50th anniversary just this past year.
I’d actually like to read Ben Witherington’s The Lazarus Effect, but don’t have a copy. Still time to get one before Christmas, I suppose.
I also have a couple of Dirk Pitt novels by Clive Cussler and the third in Robert Ludlum’s Bourne trilogy hiding out on my bookshelves as well.
Outliers: The Story of Success is Malcolm Gladwell’s newest book, and since I enjoyed his last two so much, I’m eager to read this one as well. In this one, Gladwell examines success and the factors which contribute to it, and comes up with an alternate finding from the usually-assumed ideas about what leads to success.
Phyllis Tickle’s The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why promises to be a significant book from all the reports I’ve seen on it, and I’m looking forward to spending some time engaging with it. (That’s what we say when we mean that we’re genuinely thinking about what we’re reading.)
Like the previous title, Martin Robinson and Colin Greene’s Metavista: Bible, Church and Mission in an Age of Imagination came to me through The Ooze Select Blogger program, and I’m just familiar enough with it to want to shuffle it closer to the top of the to-read pile.
Of course, these aren’t the only things in my to-read or to-review stacks, but they’re some of what’s on my shortlist for the holiday season. I just haven’t decided where to start. What about you? Have you got any special books set aside for the upcoming “holiday reading season”? Or am I the only one who takes this approach?