Friday, December 11, 2009
So I wrapped presents for an hour straight yesterday and I can officially say: I'm done! Well, almost. I have one more itty-bitty thing to wrap, but I'm not counting it. I can do that. It's my tally.
Anyway, as I think I've already shared, we're pared back Christmas at the Baart house this year. Not that it has ever been a big, extravagant ordeal, but somehow it made sense to simplify even more in 2009. So why did it take me an hour to wrap our presents??? Mostly because we love the little things. Books, slippers, games for the family... Five to ten dollar items that quickly become treasures. I'm all about the small stuff, but I have to admit that whileI adore scented lotions, boxes of gourmet chocolate, and bottles of special wine, nothing fits the gift-giving bill more perfectly in my mind than a good book. Don't have all your shopping done this year? I have a few good ideas for you. The following are some of my favorite reads of 2009. There's a little something for everyone...
For Anyone & Everyone
After the Leaves Fall (Nicole Baart)
Judy Moody's little brother James (Stink) is the perfect misfit and a source of great delight for my boys. Though my youngest is only three, he loves the slapstick gags and cartoonish pictures. And my six-year-old is riveted by the storyline. A great way to introduce slightly older kids to reading.
For the Family Theologian
The Furious Longing of God (Brennan Manning)
A self-proclaimed ragamuffin, recovering alcoholic, and former monk, Brennan Manning offers wisdom, insight, and moments of grace in this beautiful, beautiful book. I wept throughout, and felt like a changed women when I turned the final page.
Land of a Hundred Wonders (Lesley Kagen)
A perfectly delightful story about Gibby, a young woman who is NQR (Not Quite Right) after a tragic accident kills both her parents and leaves her suffering the side effects of a traumatic brain injury. Determined to become QR (Quite Right), this tenacious, self-proclaimed reporter finds herself enmeshed in a small town tangle of lies, deceit, and murder. This is a fast, fun read that reminded me of a grown-up Nancy Drew. (However, be forewarned that this book is not rated G. Some language and sexual references might make it inappropriate for your mother.)
For Your Erudite Older Sister
The Master Butcher's Singing Club (Louise Erdrich)
Gorgeous prose and a story steeped in heartbreak make this book a powerful read. It's epic in scope, and so hauntingly well-told that I ached reading it in parts. Our main character, Delphine, is caught in the middle of impossible relationships where she is both exquisitely loved yet agonizingly alone. A must read. (Also not rated G.)
For Your Hubby
In the Woods (Tana French)
This creepy, psychological thriller kept me turning pages into the wee hours of the morning. That's no small feat--I like my sleep. When a young girl is murdered near a small town in Ireland, Detective Rob Ryan is put on the case. It doesn't take long for him to realize that the case he's working is frighteningly similar to his own childhood horror--a night twenty years ago when two of his best friends went missing and he was found blood soaked and incoherent, with no memories of what had transpired. Though the ending of this book is a little to vague for my liking, the book itself was compelling enough for me to consider it a great read.
For You (& Me)
The Help (Kathryn Stockett)
I haven't read this book yet but my agent (and numerous others) told me that it's hands down one of the best books she's read in a long time. It's on my list, but I haven't put down the dough for it quite yet. Maybe it'll be a little Christmas present to myself.