Sunday, December 21, 2008

Favorite Holiday Books.

With the holiday season upon us, I thought I'd share some of my favorite holiday books. (they're mostly Christmas. I can't say I've read any Hanukkah or Kwanzaa books, sorry. It wasn't intentional. If you read any good ones, let me know in the comments)

by Charles Dickens

I guess this one seems obvious. Well, I think the reason I love it so much is because as a language arts teacher, we read this book every year in all my classes. Each time I read it, I discovered more beauty, humor and genius in the language.

Here a just a few of my favorite parts:

The first paragraph! What a way to begin a book:
"MARLEY was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner." (somehow, that cracks me up)

NEXT: When the men come to collect for charity to help the homeless, Scrooge suggests that if they have nowhere to live then they should go live in the prisons.

So, the man says, "Many can't go there; and many would rather die." And Scrooge hits him with "If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."
Wow...really tells the reader what kind of man Scrooge is, huh?

THEN: When Marley comes to inform Scrooge of his fate later that night, Scrooge notices the chains Marley is dragging behind him:

"You are fettered," said Scrooge, trembling. "Tell me why?"

"I wear the chain I forged in life," replied the Ghost. "I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?"

Then Scrooge denies any wrong doings and tells Marley - he was such a good man of business, where Marley replies with:

"Business!" cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. "Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"

Wow - Marley has learned his lesson, for sure. Scrooge is next.

And I could go on & on. There are more creepy parts, more sad parts, as well as more funny and happy sections. But, I think you get my point. It's a lovely, lovely friend worth visiting each holiday season. By the way, I know most people prefer the George C. Scott version of the movie, but my personal fav is the Patrick Stewart version. (I love him) He'll always be Scrooge to me.

FAVORITE non-YA Holiday Books
Every few years, Mary Higgins Clark & her daughter Carol do a Christmas book. They began the tradition by having characters from each of their own popular books meet each other during the course of a holiday mystery. (they're both mystery writers, if you aren't already acquainted with the authors). Then every few years, they write another book with this combination of characters. They are always amusing, suspenseful and just plain fun to read during this time of year. The most recent in this series was just published a few weeks ago. It's called DASHING THROUGH THE SNOW. I'd recommend reading all of them, but it's certainly not mandatory to enjoy the fun. (the books are totally appropriate for teens)

Another non-YA holiday book that I really love is THE CHRISTMAS TRAIN by David Baldacci. I haven't read any of his other books, but one Christmas, some years back, this book caught my eye when I was browsing for a holiday treat. I read it, loved it, and since it still sticks with me after all these years, that says something. Here's a description from the author's website:

"Disillusioned journalist Tom Langdon must get from Washington to Los Angeles in time for Christmas. Forced to take the train across the country because of a slight "misunderstanding" at airport security, he begins a journey of self-discovery and rude awakenings, mysterious goings-on and thrilling adventures, screwball escapades and holiday magic. He has no idea that the locomotives pulling him across America will actually take him into the rugged terrain of his own heart, as he rediscovers people’s essential goodness and someone very special he believed he had lost."

Like I said, it's been a few years since I've read it, but I still remember it being really heart-warming and perfect for the holiday season. (it's on the shelf in my library, so totally appropriate for teens)

Last, but certainly not least, my favorite YA Holiday book
LET IT SNOW by Green, Johnson & Myracle. I just reviewed this a few weeks ago, so I'll just refer you there for more info. It's a humorous and lovely holiday gift.

Any good holiday book you can recommend? Let us all know in the comments!