Holiday Reads & Gift Ideas

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A part of my traditional Christmas decorating includes Christmas books. I take down my collection of To Kill a Mockingbird (same story, different covers) and fill that shelf with seasonal reads, from A Christmas Carol to How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and many in between. I have found that most holiday themed books are novellas—about a third of the pages of a normal novel—which allows the reader to step into the story, finish and still have time to bake, shop and wrap. I would like to introduce you to a few I have enjoyed, followed by a selection of books to consider for holiday gift giving.

By far, my favorite telling of the Christmas story is One Wintry Night, written by the late Ruth Bell Graham in eleven short beautifully illustrated chapters. The book can be read to children, as a family or by any individual, ages 6 to 96. Consider reading at the end of a family meal over several nights.

The story begins with a wounded boy staying with an older woman in a snowstorm. To pass the time she tells the Christmas story … the WHOLE Christmas story. She begins to tell the traditional story, only to stop and go back to the true beginning. When she comes to the birth of the Christ child, she doesn’t stop, but goes on to complete the story started in Genesis. Each time I reflect on this story, I get chill bumps—it has that much of an impact on me. I have given this book to many friends and family members over the years, and it is also a book I reread myself every Christmas season.

Keeping in theme with a book the whole family can enjoy, I highly recommend The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson. A child’s telling of life with the Herdmans (six siblings “heading for hell by way of the state penitentiary”) who accidentally become involved in the Christmas Pageant is a must read. In my opinion, this book is meant to be read aloud whether to a class or family; there is something about letting the story unfold in a mind as it is heard that heightens its impact for younger readers. Reading it aloud also allows them to see your unguarded reaction to the unexpected. Even when I read it to myself (allot an hour or so), I laugh out loud, snicker and weep.

Jan Karon did not intend Shepherd’s Abiding to be an independent book in her Mitford Series, but says as the story unfolded, it needed to stand on its own legs. It is a sweet story that takes the reader away to the fictional town of Mitford, with Father Tim and his endearing friends. My friend, Patty, shared that she takes out her Mitford books and rereads the seasonal chapters whether it be Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter. She said reading these portions allows her a visit with characters she has come to love, and awakens her heart to the season at hand.

I also recommend Finding Father Christmas, followed by Engaging Father Christmas, written by Robin Jones Gunn. Each has a strong storyline that happen to take place during the holiday season. In the first, Melinda Carson travels to London to find her father, only to find a deeper place of belonging. Her story continues when she returns to spend Christmas with her boyfriend, where family complications ensue. Gunn’s writing is always palatable to me. I find myself invested without being overwhelmed by characters in dire circumstances, and in the end take away heart truths.

Mary Higgins-Clark paired up with her daughter, Carol Higgins-Clark, to write several mysteries taking place around Christmas: Deck the Halls, The Christmas Thief and Dashing Through the Snow, to name a few. Each is a pleasant read. I find I like the characters, sincerely invest in the storyline, and know it will all work out in the end.

Francine Rivers wrote The Lineage of Grace series, the story of each woman named in Matthew’s accounting of Christ’s lineage, ending with Mary. Unafraid: Mary tells of a young woman’s walk without fear through what should have been the scariest scenario a fourteen-year-old Jewish girl could imagine. Powerful and perspective giving in a way that lets the worries of matching packages and bows take their rightful place.

So, much like the seasonal music that will abound following that famous turkey dinner, the above are but a few available seasonal reads that reflect the holidays at hand. Do you have a favorite you would like to add? Leave a comment, so we can all share.

Gift Suggestions
The gift suggestions are listed by genre, and come from several friends—both male and female—that like to read. Hope this makes your gift giving a bit easier. In this day and age, you can give a list of suggested books, attached to the gift card the recipient might prefer.

Devotional
Starting/Ending Your Day Right Devotional (boxed set) by Joyce Meyer
Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers
Health Food by Kenneth Hagin

Historical/Biographical Stories
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas
The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda & the Reaction to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright
Open by Andre Agassi

Self-Help/Motivational/Business
Poke the Box by Seth Godin
Rework by Jason Fried
Deliver Happiness by Tony Hseih
From Good to Great by Jim Collins
Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson
Effective Coaching by Myles Downey
Getting More by Stuart Diamond

Travel
Foreign to Familiar by Sarah Lanier

Novels
The Price of a Child by Lorene Cary
Chasing Fireflies by Charles Martin
Kite Runner & A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hossieini
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Room by Emma Donoghue
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

*Originally published on Destiny in Bloom*

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