When I encountered The Bookish Christmas tag at Scifi and Scary Book Reviews (*the tag was created by callummclaughlin.wordpress.com), I couldn’t resist jumping into the bookish fun. Without further ado, here is my bookish Christmas list.
Father Christmas: Name a book you received as a child that you treasure to this day.
“The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles” by Julie Andrews Edwards. This book was given to me for a holiday (I can’t recall which … Christmas, birthday, maybe Easter) and ran away with my imagination. The characters learn to travel to magical Whangdoodleland using only their imaginations. With some influence from the book, my imagination turned our backyard into a similar magical kingdom.
The ghost of Christmas past: Is there a book or series you like to revisit each year at Christmastime?
I don’t have any regulars that I return to each year. (I’m too busy piling new titles onto my Christmas list; this year I’m angling for the complete works of Shel Silverstein.)
Christmas tree: Name a series that reaches new heights with every entry.
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman: This series was the first to make me analyze accepted truths about myself, my faith, and the world around me. It also ran away with my imagination (that cliffhanger where Lyra sets off for the city in the sky!) and my emotions (the scene in the third book when Lyra and Pan get separated … my heart ached all day).
Friends and family: Name a book with fantastic characters.
The Enchanted Forest Chronicles. (Technically that’s four books, but who’s counting?) The names alone are memorable: Cimorene, Kazul, Mendanbar, Zemenar, Telemain. Cimorene is especially memorable to me because she was the first princess to turn the “damsel in distress” formula upside down for me. The first book opens with Cimorene running away from home to be a dragon’s princess. Most dragons had to go to the effort of kidnapping their princesses, but Cimorene volunteered for the job of being a dragon’s personal housekeeper. The books don’t shy away from turning gender roles on their heads, either. Kazul may be a female dragon, but she gets crowned King of the Dragons.
Decorations: Name a book with a gorgeous cover you would proudly display on your shelves.
Any of these handcrafted book covers by Latvian designer Aniko Kolesnikova. Imagine if someone wrote a book of original fairy tales and Kolesnikova designed the cover. Forget mass market paperbacks — I would love to display a one-of-a-kind book like this on my shelf. (Although there are plenty of mass market paperbacks I’d be happy to add to my shelves, too.)
I’m also a sucker for any antique-looking fairy tale cover. One day I’ll have a home library lined with dusty smelling volumes that look like this:
Christmas cards: Name a book that carries a great message.
“Bridge to Terabithia.” Friendship and imagination. Those are two of the most important elements as we grow up. Friendship and imagination both shape us and lead us to self-discovery.
Ice and snow: Name a book that you were hoping to love but which ultimately left you feeling cold.
“Hatchet.” This Newbery award-winner was published the year I was born, and by the time I was in elementary/middle school, my teachers couldn’t get enough of it. My class was assigned to read it, and it’s one of the only assigned books that bored me to the point of skimming chapters. (I couldn’t bring myself to skip chapters completely.) Brian’s trials in the book were interesting, and certainly realistic. (It was one of the first books to address a character’s need for bowel movements.) But the plot never hooked me. At risk of gender stereotyping, the reason may be that the book was too “boyish”; I loved the survival story in “Julie of the Wolves.” Maybe male leads don’t resonate as strongly enough with me.
Christmas lunch: Name a book that was big and intimidating but oh so worth it in the end.
I don’t think I’ve ever been intimidated by a book’s size. Although I vaguely remember being intimidated by the small font size of “Where the Red Fern Grows” in fourth grade. That book was very much worth the eye strain, though. It became one of my favorites as a kid — I read it every summer in elementary and middle school.
Mince pies: Name a book you found sweet and satisfying.
“A Long Way from Chicago” by Richard Peck. Grandma Dowdel can be gruff, but she’s also endearing. And the end of the book is sweet without leaving a sickly syrupy aftertaste in your mouth.
Presents: What book do you wish you could give everyone to read?
“The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles.” Oh wait, have I mentioned that one already? It’s worth mentioning again. It’s that good.