Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday: The Ten (only 10!?) Books I Hope Santa Brings Me!

I know I've been MIA for a while, but life has sorta swallowed me up the past few weeks. But I'm making an appearance for this special holiday Top Ten Tuesday! The top ten books I hope Santa brings me this year are:

1. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. I must say I have officially been bitten by the buzz from this book. I must have it-there will be no waiting for the paperback!

2. Room by Emma Donoghue. This sounds so original and engaging-I must have it.

3. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. This would take a Santa miracle because it hasn't been released yet in English translation, but Santa can do anything, right?

4. A Dance with Dragons by George RR Martin. While we're on the subject of miracles, could Santa get Martin to finally finish this book already? I've been waiting like 5 years. 

5. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I read the review in Bookmarks magazine and am completely intrigued. 

6. World Without End by Ken Follett. If Santa brings it to me I just might get to this book.

7. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. Another book to feed my obsession with the court of King Henry VIII

8. Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay. Samurai and fantasy-ooo it sounds good!

9. The Egyptian by Mika Waltari.A richly written novel of 14 century BC Egypt. Right up my alley

10. The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Having them all together in one set will greatly increase my chances of reading these books, which have been recommended to me over and over.

So there they are! Please please please bring them Santa!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits by Les Standiford

I've kick started my holiday reading with a closer look at the classic tale which we all know and love, A Christmas Carol, and getting to know the man behind the story a little better. It turns out that Dickens was actually in a bit of a crisis at the time when inspiration struck him to write his "Little Carol". He was practically broke and had baby number 9 on the way (for a total of 10 children before he divorced his wife-nice.), plus a host of other family issues. Plus his popularity was dwindling, decreasing from the heights of The Pickwick papers with his current periodical, Martin Chuzzlewit. So because of that his publishers were thinking of docking his pay, not very good timing for everything to happen at once. But it took a speaking engagement in the factory swelled hovel that was Manchester for him to spark the idea that would become his greatest achievement: A Christmas Carol. He realized the need to say something on behalf of charity and goodwill toward men, and he certainly succeeded! This book has been called the most perfect case made for charity outside of the Bible. It has been retold in movies, plays, musicals, and been reformatted into hundreds of different editions. True enough, one can hardly have a Christmas without this classic Carol!

I really enjoyed this book because I love reading about the background and origin of things, and the writing style is charming and entertaining. You can tell the reverence the author has for Dickens, and he has really done his homework in getting the facts. And the chapters on the sheer impact of this novel are astounding! A big recommend from me for all fans of Christmas books, especially the Carol. Now I need to go re-read the novel!

About the author: Standiford is the author of the critically acclaimed Last Train to Paradise, Meet You in Hell, and Washington Burning, as well as ten novels. Recipient of the Frank O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, he is director of the Creative Writing Program at Florida International University in Miami, where he lives with his wife and three children.

Other Books to Consider: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom, Loving Frank by Nancy Horan