When the holidays come to mind, we mentally prepare for the festivities— what to wear, what gifts to buy, what dates are the best for travel, what recipes to make— and then when vacation arrives we understandably just want to relax. It’s a lot of work prepping for the holidays! During our downtime, we want to curl up, hopefully with some fuzzy socks on our feet in a chilly neighborhood, make a cup of tea and read. Now, there’s the dilemma. In this perfect spot with finally a moment to ourselves, what are we going to read that’s going to be interesting enough to keep the pages turning?

Here’s a curated list of fiction and nonfiction in a wide range of excellent topics that won’t leave you guessing if these books are a good buy. Take one less thing off your holiday To-Do list and select one – or several – of the books below to read this holiday season.

Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson

Out Stealing Horses has been embraced across the world as a classic, a novel of universal relevance and power. Panoramic and gripping, it tells the story of Trond Sander, a sixty-seven year old man who has moved from the city to a remote, riverside cabin, only to have all the turbulence, grief and overwhelming beauty of his youth come back to him one night while he’s out on a walk.

To the Wedding by John Berger

With the sensuous eye and profound sense of history that has made him one of the most acclaimed novelists writing in English, John Berger tells the story of a wedding. But this wedding takes place in a Europe that is approaching the end of the century, a place where everything has changed— and not even the certainties of love are exempt.

The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean

A modern classic of personal journalism, The Orchid Thief is Susan Orlean’s wickedly funny, elegant, and captivating tale of an amazing obsession. From Florida’s swamps to its courtrooms, the New Yorker writer follows one deeply eccentric and oddly attractive man’s possibly criminal pursuit of an endangered flower. Determined to clone the rare ghost orchid, Polyrrbiza lindenii, John Laroche leads Orlean on an unforgettable tour of America’s strange flower-selling subculture, along with the Seminole Indians who help him and the forces of justice who fight him.

The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton

Winner of the Pen/ Ernest Hemingway Foundation Award. “Ms. Hamilton gives Ruth a humble dignity and allows her hope—but it’s not a heavenly hope. It’s a common one, caked with mud and held with gritted teeth. And it’s probably the only kind that’s worth reading about.” —New York Times Book Review

The Boat Runner by Devin Murphy

When war breaks out, Jacob’s world is thrown into chaos. The Boat Runner follows Jacob over the course of four years, through the forests of France, the stormy beaches of England, and deep within the secret missions of the German Navy, where he is confronted with the moral dilemma that will change his life— and his life’s mission—forever.

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

They carried malaria tablets, love letters, z8-pound mine detectors, dope, illustrated Bibles, each other. And if they made it home alive, they carrived unrelenting images of a nightmarish war that history is only beginning to absorb. Since its first publication, The Things They Carried has become an unparalleled Vietnam testament, a classic work of American literature, and a profound study of men at war that illuminates the capacity, and the limits, of the human heart and soul.

A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul

In this “brilliant novel” (The New York Times) V.S. Naipaul takes us deeply into the life of one man— an Indian who, uprooted by the bloody tides of Third World history, has come to live in an isolated town at the bend of a great river in a newly independent African nation. Naipaul gives us the most convincing and disturbing vision yet of what happens in a place caught between the dangerously alluring modern world and its own tenacious past and traditions.

The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson

Telling the story of two sisters— Olivia, a hotshot Hollywood producer whose life is unraveling, and Maddie, an unflaggingly optimistic, seriously ill midwesterner whose idealism has always driven Olivia crazy— The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters offers a startlingly poignant reminder of how hope can grow in even the darkest places.

Tinkers by Paul Harding

An old man lies dying. As time collapses into memory, he travels deep into his past where he is reunited with his father and relives the wonder and pain of his impoverished New England youth. At once heartbreaking and life affirming, Tinkers is an elegiac meditation on love, loss, and the fierce beauty of nature.

Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes

As spring becomes summer she revives her lush gardens, meets the challenges of learning a new language, tours regions from Sicily to the Veneto, and faces transitions in her family life. Filled with recipes from her Tuscan kitchen and written in the sensuous and evocative prose that has become her hallmark, Bella Tuscany  is a celebration of the sweet life in Italy.

If you’d like to share your review and/ or comments of one of the books mentioned above or have a must-read you’d like to recommend to the community, email me at heather@silgon.net.