12 Holiday Reads to Cozy Up With This Christmas

It’s that time of the year again and I’m here for some cozy Christmas reads! I’m at work and decided to do a little research about some of the best reads during the holiday season. Enjoy!

1. Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien

5661151 “Every December an envelope bearing a stamp from the North Pole would arrive for J.R.R. Tolkien’s children. Inside would be a letter in strange spidery handwriting and a beautiful colour drawing. They were from Father Christmas, telling wonderful tales of life at the North Pole.

From the first note to Tolkien’s eldest son in 1920 to the final poignant letter to his daughter in 1943, this book collects all the remarkable letters and pictures in one enchanting edition.”

Read more about it here on Goodreads.

 

 

 

2. One Day in December by Josie Silver

image “Two people. Ten chances. One unforgettable love story.

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic… and then her bus drives away.

Certain they’re fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn’t find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they “reunite” at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It’s Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.

What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.”

Read more about this book on Goodreads.

 

3. Little Women by Louisaa cj May Alcott

“Grown-up Meg, tomboyish Jo, timid Beth, and precocious Amy. The four March sisters couldn’t be more different. But with their father away at war, and their mother working to support the family, they have to rely on one another. Whether they’re putting on a play, forming a secret society, or celebrating Christmas, there’s one thing they can’t help wondering: Will Father return home safely?”

Listen, I couldn’t NOT include this book. The new movie comes out this Christmas too!

Read more about in on Goodreads.

 

 

4. A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote

23472571. sx318 “Truman Capote’s boyhood Christmas memoir, rereleased with a beautiful new packaging.


The classic story of Truman Capote’s childhood Christmas ritual is more endearing than ever in this newly redesigned package.

In celebration of A Christmas Memory‘s enduring appeal, this repackaged edition retains Beth Peck’s evocative watercolors and Capote’s original text. First published in 1956, this is the story from Capote’s childhood of lovingly making fruitcakes from scratch at Christmas-time with his elderly cousin, and has stood the test of time to become known as an American holiday classic.”

Read more about in on Goodreads.

 

5. The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

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“One dollar and eight-seven cents is all the money Della has in the world to buy her beloved husband a Christmas present. She has nothing to sell except her only treasure — her long, beautiful brown hair. Set in New York at the turn of the twentieth century, this classic piece of American literature tells the story of a young couple and the sacrifices each must make to buy the other a gift. Beautiful, delicate watercolors by award-winning illustrator Lisbeth Zwerger add new poignancy and charm to this simple tale about the rewards of unselfish love.”

This is one of my favorite short stories ever. I remember doing this story in my junior high thespian’s group and I never forgot it.

Read more about it on Goodreads

 

6. Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory

44300636. sy475 “From the New York Times bestselling author of The Proposal and “rising star in the romance genre” (Entertainment Weekly) comes a dazzling new novel about a spontaneous holiday vacation that turns into an unforgettable romance.

Vivian Forest has been out of the country a grand total of one time, so when she gets the chance to tag along on her daughter Maddie’s work trip to England to style a royal family member, she can’t refuse. She’s excited to spend the holidays taking in the magnificent British sights, but what she doesn’t expect is to become instantly attracted to a certain private secretary, his charming accent, and unyielding formality.

Malcolm Hudson has worked for the Queen for years and has never given a personal, private tour—until now. He is intrigued by Vivian the moment he meets her and finds himself making excuses just to spend time with her. When flirtatious banter turns into a kiss under the mistletoe, things snowball into a full-on fling.

Despite a ticking timer on their holiday romance, they are completely fine with ending their short, steamy affair come New Year’s Day. . .or are they?”

Read more about it on Goodreads.

 

7. My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins

21531436. sy475 “If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by twelve bestselling young adult writers (Holly Black, Ally Carter, Matt de La Peña, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins, Laini Tayler and Kiersten White), edited by the international bestselling Stephanie Perkins. Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or Kwanzaa, there’s something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love.”

 

 

8. Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

7741325 ““I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own”

 

9. Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

3300121 “David Sedaris’s holiday collection is new again with six more pieces, including a never before published story. Along with such favorites as the diaries of a Macy’s elf and the annals of two very competitive families, are Sedaris’s tales of tardy trick-or-treaters (“Us and Them”); the difficulties of explaining the Easter Bunny to the French (“Jesus Shaves”); what to do when you’ve been locked out in a snowstorm (“Let It Snow”); the puzzling Christmas traditions of other nations (“Six to Eight Black Men”); what Halloween at the medical examiner’s looks like (“The Monster Mash”); and a barnyard secret Santa scheme gone awry (“Cow and Turkey”)”

 

 

10. Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle

33290383. sy475 The New York Times bestseller!

Sparkling white snowdrifts, beautiful presents wrapped in ribbons, and multicolored lights glittering in the night through the falling snow. A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks. Thanks to three of today’s bestselling teen authors—John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle—the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and breathtaking kisses.”

 

11. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

“‘If I had my way, every idiot who goes around with Merry Christmas on his lips, would be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. Merry Christmas? Bah humbug!’

Introduction and Afterword by Joe Wheeler
To bitter, miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, Christmas is just another day. But all that changes when the ghost of his long-dead business partner appears, warning Scrooge to change his ways before it’s too late.

Part of the Focus on the Family Great Stories collection, this edition features an in-depth introduction and discussion questions by Joe Wheeler to provide greater understanding for today’s reader. “A Christmas Carol” captures the heart of the holidays like no other novel.”

 

12. Amazing Peace: a Celebration by Maya Angelou

In this beautiful, deeply moving poem, Maya Angelou inspires us to embrace the peace and promise of Christmas, so that hope and love can once again light up our holidays and the world. “Angels and Mortals, Believers and Nonbelievers, look heavenward,” she writes, “and speak the word aloud. Peace.”

Read by the poet at the lighting of the National Christmas Tree at the White House on December 1, 2005, Maya Angelou’s celebration of the “Glad Season” is a radiant affirmation of the goodness of life and a beautiful holiday gift for people of all faiths. ”

 

 

Are you reading any holiday books this season? Have you read any of these? I’d love to know! 

Find these at your local bookstore!

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Banned Book Recommendation | DAY FOUR

It’s banned book week! This week, September 22nd-28th, I’ll be sharing with you some banned book recommendations. If you don’t know what a banned book is, here’s a little definition: A banned book is one that has been removed from the shelves of a library, bookstore, or classroom because of its controversial content. I’ll be highlighting one book per day and telling you why they’re banned.

Here’s the tag for all my banned book week posts!

99561Looking for Alaska by John Green

Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . . .
After. Nothing is ever the same.”

Why is it banned?

John Green will forever fight against the book being banned. This book being banned is quite shocking because I’ve read it and couldn’t exactly come up with a reason on why it was taken out of schools and challenged over and over again. It’s banned for reasons like:

  • inappropriate language (cursing)
  • use of drugs + alcohol
  • pornography
  • “unsuitable for age group”

If you want to watch John Green talk about these, he has an entire video about it on the Vlogbrothers! Here’s the link. It’s a great video!

For more in-depth reasons on why it’s banned, here’s a few paragraphs I got from this website. You can see their sources there.

“2008 – New York – Challenged, but retained for the 11th grade Regents English classes in Depew despite concerns about graphic language and sexual content. The school sent parents a letter requesting permission to use the novel and only 3 students were denied permission.

2012 – Tennessee – Challenged as required reading for Knox County High Schools’ Honors and as Advanced Placement outside readings for English II because of “inappropriate language.” School Superintendent Dr. James P. McIntyre, Jr. said that a parent identified this as an issue and the book was removed from the required reading list. He didn’t say whether the book was still in the schools.

2013

Colorado – Parents of Fort Lupton Middle and High School challenged the books use in a 9th grade classrooms for sexual and alcohol content

Tennessee – Banned as required reading for Sumner County schools by the director of schools because of a sex scene that was “a bit much” and  “inappropriate language.” The book was retained in the libraries.

2014 – New Jersey – Challenged in the Verona High School curriculum because a parent found the sexual nature of the story inappropriate.

2015 – Wisconsin – Challenged, but retained in the Waukesha South High School despite claims the book is “too racy to read.”

2016

Kentucky – Marion County parent complained about book being included on 12th grade english, “calls the novel “filth” and lists his fear that the book would tempt students “to experiment with pornography, sex, drugs, alcohol and profanity.”” The book was removed from circulation until the school committee reached a decision. “Another resident has written to the local paper describing the novel as “mental pornography” and detailing the number of times the “‘f’ word” is used (16) and the the “‘sh’ word” is used (27).”

New Jersey – Challenged, but retained in the Lumberton Township middle school despite a parent questioning its “sexual content.””

 

Have you read Looking for Alaska? Are you excited for the Hulu show? Let me know your thoughts!

 

Over on my Tumblr, I asked you guys to share with me the banned books that make you MOST angry. Here’s the link to that post!

 

To hear my thoughts elsewhere, follow me on social media: Goodreads | BookTube | Instagram | Twitter

Books You Probably Didn’t Know Were Banned

This is an archived post. This original one has been deleted since it was on my old blog. Enjoy!

Guess what all of these books have in common? They’re all banned.

 Banned books are books or printed writing that has been removed from libraries, schools, bookstores, etc. due to controversial content. A book can be challenged by a parent whose child is attending a school and has a book on their curriculum/in their library. While these books do become banned, there’s a large population of people who disagree. 

Let’s talk about some books you probably didn’t know are banned (and you’ll definitely upset at the reasons why). 

  • Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky 

If you’ve read Perks of Being a Wallflower, you can probably guess the reasons why it’s banned. There’s sexual explicit content constantly throughout the book but it still remains an important read. This book was banned for several different reasons but the main ones being:

  • homosexuality
  • date rape
  • glorification and use of drugs and alcohol
  • sexual content (masturbation)


Yes, books are being banned for homosexual content in 2017 and 2018. Unfortunately. 

  • Looking for Alaska by John Green

John Green will forever fight against the book being banned. This book being banned is quite shocking because I’ve read it and couldn’t exactly come up with a reason on why it was taken out of schools and challenged over and over again. It’s banned for reasons like:

  • inappropriate language (cursing)
  • use of drugs + alcohol
  • pornography 
  • Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

I literally had no clue that this book was challenged and considered a banned book. I’ve read this book twice and I genuinely love it. But, it’s considered a banned book. Here are the reasons:

  • profanity 
  • pornography


If I remember clearly, Eleanor and Park is far away from smut. But, it was pulled from schools for it’s “vile” and “nasty” language and it’s “trash” content. (You’ve got to be kidding me, right?)

  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

I’ve read Sherman Alexie’s work in school before and never had a problem with it. I’ve also owned this book for years and had no idea it was banned. It remains on several lists of banned books and has been challenged multiple times. But, why? 

  • excerpts on masturbation
  • vulgarity
  • racism
  • anti-Christian content
  • encouraging pornography

Yes, you heard that right. It was banned and a reason stated that it was due to it’s anti-Christian content. 

  • Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone by J.K. Rowling

Now, I knew this book was banned for ridiculous reasons. But, there’s still some people out there who have no idea. If you’ve read Harry Potter and didn’t know it was banned, I’m assuming you’d be clueless as to why it’s a banned and challenged book. Well, it’s for things like:

  • inappropriate language
  • glorifying magic and the occult
  • violence
  • religious reasons

Basically, I grew up hearing that Harry Potter is a banned book due to it’s glorification of witch craft. Again, yes, you heard that right. *sigh*

  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give was published in 2017 and remained on the New York Times young adult best-sellers list for weeks on end. It’s won the National Book Award for young people’s literature and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award in fiction. It was one of the most talked about books of last year and to this date. It’s clearly inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and covers the very important current topic of police brutality. It’s even currently being turned into a film. But, it’s been recently banned.

  • foul language 
  • “normalized sexual activity”
  • use of drugs

Despite the banning, the book still remains in some schools and is taught to be a very important book. The author herself even spoke out about the banning on Twitter but remains inspired to write.

As you can see, books that are banned are usually significant in their times. They discuss topics that we should be exposed to and understand. It’s unfortunate that these books are banned and considered wrong to parents and others, but people still have access to them. If you look at your own bookshelves, I’m sure you’ll find several if not many books that are already banned or being challenged. Can you guess why?

If you guys know any books that you think I’d be shocked to hear they’re banned, let me know!

I’ve listed some sources I’ve used below but feel free to correct me if I misspoke on anything!

Sources:

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TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN [REVIEW]

This is an archived review. For the original post, here’s a link to my old blog.

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“It all begins with a fugitive billionaire and the promise of a cash reward. Turtles All the Way Down is about lifelong friendship, the intimacy of an unexpected reunion, Star Wars fan fiction, and tuatara. But at its heart is Aza Holmes, a young woman navigating daily existence within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

In his long-awaited return, John Green shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity.”

Edition: Hardcover
Page Count: 288 pages
Publish Date: October 10th, 2017
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
ISBN13: 9780525555360

My Rating: 5/5 stars ★★★★★

 

TW: This book does portray OCD in a very realistic way so if that’s something you’re uncomfortable reading, I would stray away from this book.

 

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

All spoilers in this review contain BOLD brackets around the text like this [EXAMPLE]. Feel free to skip around these to avoid spoilers. 

Review

I’ve been thinking about this book a lot. The day after I finished it, it’s the only thing I thought about. I thought about it so much and how it impacted me, it was hard to handle. I told myself I’d write a review when I’m comfortable coming back to it with my feelings all together. They’re not and I don’t think they will ever be? This isn’t a bad thing. In fact, I love it when books make me feel this way. These are the books that become my favorites. I’ve sat down and recorded a few videos of myself talking about it because no one had finished it yet and I needed to figure out what I’d say in my review. I had so many things to say, definitely on the spoiler-y end, but if I have to say anything, it’s that it was real and I loved it.
John Green has always written books that interested me. From Paper Towns and the wanderlust angst, to The Fault In Our Stars and the love it showed me. But they felt like stories to me. These books just felt like books and nothing more. I’d re-read them occasionally and meet with the characters again. With Turtles all the Way Down, I feel like I’m stuck with Aza. I’ll think about this book a lot. Whenever I’m having a “thought spiral,” I’ll probably think of the ending and maybe I’ll try to calm down. John Green has mentioned that this book is personal to him and you’re able to see feel that whenever you’re reading it.
Before I get too deep into personal thought, let me talk more about the book itself. We follow Aza, a girl struggling with OCD and her best friend Daisy, as they decide one day they’re going to try and solve the mystery of the billionaire who recently went missing in their town in order to receive the reward. A long the way, Aza gets in touch with the billionaire’s son, Davis, who she used to be friends with as a kid. Aza’s OCD is very much shown through her constant fear of disease or specifically, C Dif. Feel free to look it up. It’s complicated.
While I am going to talk about the characters and plot individually, I want to talk about her OCD and anxiety first. It’s obviously something very important to this book as we follow her life having OCD and we’re in her head a lot, just like she is in hers. You get to see the broken down rawness of her OCD a lot in the first chapter, which is a brilliant idea. Props to John because we refer back to that first chapter through out the entire book whether it’s mentioning the disease itself or her story life metaphor. The thoughts she has going on in her head are hard to read. I’m not going to lie to you. It’s difficult and frustrating because you feel like it’s your mind. It’s how mental illness should be displayed. John Green doesn’t dumb it down and he doesn’t make it look easy. It’s not romanticized, it’s unbearable. This aspect is important to me in a novel because the romanticization of mental illness is YA literature has been around for so long and as someone with mental illness, I want something real. The only reason this book was tough to talk about afterwards was due to the fact it made me think of my own anxiety. While she does have OCD and I can’t mention if he directly states anything about having anxiety, it’s definitely there in her actions at some points. There’s a scene that stood out to me and my anxiety where she tells him about a mathematician,

“I told him about this mathematician Kurt Gödel, who had this really bad fear of being poisoned, so much so that he couldn’t bring himself to eat food unless it was prepared by his wife. And then one day his wife got sick and had to go into the hospital, so Gödel stopped eating. I told Davis how even though Gödel must’ve known that starvation was a greater risk than poisoning, he just couldn’t eat, and so he starved to death… He cohabited with the demon for seventy-one years, and then it got him in the end.” (pg. 203)

I wish I could thank John personally for this. His writing style is so unique because of all these littles things and metaphors he’ll add in order to explain something that just make so much more sense than if you were to simply explain it. That’s one of the beauties of this book.
Now while this book does follow a mysterious plot, I think the most important and climatic scene in the book is Aza dealing with her OCD at the end of the book. Obviously, John mentions how “Mental illness is a story told in past tense” but THIS ONE ISN’T. Aza even talks about how she feels like she’s in some kind of story and how she’s the author and this isn’t past tense. [SPOILER: The climax to this book was definitely the part: where she’s in the hospital after the car accident and she swallows the hand sanitizer. I hate even thinking about putting hand sanitizer near my mouth and so does Aza but she does it anyway because she’s scared and she feels like she has to and so she does. This scene was absolutely heartbreaking because she rather die from drinking hand sanitizer than the possibility of actually getting C diff (the disease she talks about).]

Now, this book had excellent character development. I actually felt this book to be very character based and very much in their heads so the development is great. I’ve mostly already talked about Aza’s character development but now I want to quickly talk about Daisy. Daisy was honestly my favorite from the start. She’s a fanfic writer who’s dedicated to writing Star Wars fanfic and is actually quite popular online. She has some really good parts that just had me laughing out loud so I’m going to share some. There’s this scene where she’s talking about a boy who possibly likes her and she says he’s that vast boy in the middle,

“The whole problem with boys is that ninety-nine percent of them are, like, okay. If you could dress and hygiene them properly, and make them stand up straight and listen to you and not be dumbasses, they’d be totally acceptable.”

or even the scenes where she’s talking about drawing the short stick and having to wear the Chuckie costume. That minimum wage teenage job struggle is real. (lol)

While I found her character hilarious and a great sidekick, the ending was pretty sad. [SPOILER: It hurt to read her fanfic when Aza realized there was a character very much like her and it was almost insulting. Yet, I think I understand Daisy. Yes, it was wrong but it can be hard to deal with people with mental illness but it’s never okay to treat them unfairly for it. She used her fanfic as an outlet and never thought Aza would make the connection. It hurt even more when she told Aza that “You don’t even really know me. What’s my parents’ names?” One of the worst parts is when she quoted Mychel,

“…you’re like mustard. Great in small quantities, but then a lot of you is. . . a lot.” 

which is even more heart breaking because a few pages beforehand, she thought, “I now saw myself as Daisy saw me– clueless, helpless, useless. Less.” ]

To finally wrap this up, (this review has been unfinished for awhile because wow, it was a lot), I really loved this book. I still stand by everything I said. I think this is John Green’s best book and I am nervous/excited for the movie version. If the ending of this book made me feel a certain way for days, I don’t know what the movie version is going to do to me.

If John Green is writing another book, I have no idea how it’s going to be as raw, relatable, and revolutionary as this one.

 

Have you read this book? Are you planning to? Let me know!

If you would like, here’s a little button to add it to Goodreads: Related image

 

 

 

Buy this book at your local bookstore