It’s December! Celebrate the holiday season with your loved ones and enjoy the recommended titles below.
Sue – Circulation
Breakfast at Tiffany’s: A Short Novel and Three Stories by Truman Capote, Fiction Capote
This collection includes “A Christmas Memory,” a beautiful short story set in the early 1930’s that tells of Truman Capote’s tender and loving relationship with Sook Faulk, a distant cousin of his. Capote spent his early childhood in Monroeville, Alabama, with four cousins – three sisters and their brother, while his parents were divorcing and fighting over custody. Sook was more than 50 years older than Capote and simple-minded. The two developed a strong relationship that greatly influenced Capote. The story tells of the last Christmas they spent together before Capote was sent off to school. It is written in an enchanting, evocative language that gives you a feel for the time and place and shows you how deeply Capote and Sook bonded and really captures their personalities. The story describes Capote and Sook’s experiences during the Christmas season, including gathering the ingredients for their annual fruitcake baking, flying kites, cutting down a Christmas tree and decorating it with homemade ornaments, exchanging homemade gifts at Christmas, and generally supporting one another against life’s injustices, as they were both considered misfits in society. It is a touching story that will leave you feeling warm and cozy. Sook is such a loving and gentle woman with an innocence and kindness that makes me wish I could have known her in real life. It is a perfect story for reading aloud each Christmas. There are two other stories Capote wrote about his life with Sook, not included in this volume, but worthy of reading: “One Christmas” and “A Thanksgiving Visitor.”
The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog by Dave Barry, Fiction Barry
This short novel is laugh-out-loud funny in parts and also tender and nostalgic. The book is narrated by Doug Barnes, a junior high student in 1960, and it revolves around his church’s annual Christmas pageant. This year Doug is playing a shepherd. He and his buddies enjoy pulling pranks that drive the director of the play crazy. His little brother and sister are playing angels in the pageant and Judy, the girl Doug has a crush on, is playing Mary this year. This Christmas season has been somewhat melancholy for the Barnes family because their beloved dog, Frank, is elderly and is not doing well. On the night of the pageant, a series of events come together to create happy endings all around. A warm, feel-good Christmas read.
Miss Read’s Christmas: Village Christmas and The Christmas Mouse by Miss Read, Fiction Read
Miss Read (the pen name of Dora Saint) wrote two charming, old-fashioned series about English country life: The Fairacre series and the Thrush Green series. These two novels are part of the Fairacre series and are published in one volume as a special Christmas edition. In Village Christmas, the conservative residents of Fairacre are not as welcoming as they could be to a new family in the village: Mrs. Emery, her husband, and their three young daughters. Mrs. Emery dresses flamboyantly and is too familiar according to the older residents of the village. But then something happens on Christmas Day that brings the village together and acceptance of the Emery family. In The Christmas Mouse, Mrs. Berry lives with her widowed daughter and two granddaughters. Late on Christmas Eve, she receives two unexpected visitors. Mrs. Berry’s actions towards these two intruders exemplify the Christmas spirit in this gentle read.
Melissa – Technical Services
The Mistletoe Promise by Richard Paul Evans, Fiction Evans
In order to combat the loneliness and questions that come with being single during the holidays, two work associates agree to accompany each other as boyfriend and girlfriend to holiday events. They draw up a contract that details what is to be expected, and the contract ends on Christmas Day with no strings attached or hard feelings. As the two get to know each other, however, they find that not only do they enjoy each other’s company, but that this unusual agreement may have brought together two people who understand each other as no one else can.
James Taylor at Christmas by James Taylor, CD 781.72 Taylor
Call me crazy, but Christmas music is lovely to listen to all year round. Christmas music inspires the warmth and generosity of the holiday season, and I see no reason to delegate such wonderful attributes to only one-twelfth of the year. That said, James Taylor’s holiday album is simple and sincere, smooth and endearing.
Chris – Technical Services
Remember starring Christopher Plummer and Martin Landau, New DVD Remember
Remember is a movie I will not soon forget. It stars two well know elder actors, Christopher Plummer and Martin Landau, as Auschwitz survivors looking for revenge and retribution.
Dagmar – Circulation
Skipping Christmas by John Grisham, Fiction Grisham
With the upcoming holiday season upon us, many may have mixed feelings about all the fuss that is often associated with Christmas. Especially if you are a new empty nester like Luther and Nora Krank. Their only child, 23-year-old daughter Blair, fresh from graduate school, was inspired to dedicate the next two years of her life helping others. Her assignment with the Peace Corps took her to Lima, Peru. This was the first time in her young and sheltered life she would spend Christmas away from home. This was quite hard on all of them, especially on her mother Nora. The father, trying to come up with a solution, decided to skip Christmas that dreadful year altogether. No need to shop in crowded malls for unwanted presents, no big annual party, not even a Christmas tree. The decision was made to sail on December 25th on a Caribbean cruise instead. It was a good plan, but, as the Kranks later discovered, it was not that simple to follow through. Skipping Christmas was much harder to do and had many more consequences than they had previously imagined. The story, which is now being hailed as the new modern Christmas classic, offers a “hilarious look at the chaos and frenzy that have become part of our holiday tradition.”
You Want It Darker by Leonard Cohen, New CD 781.63 Cohen
On October 17th, the New Yorker published a lengthy article, “Leonard Cohen Makes It Darker,” celebrating Leonard Cohen’s 82nd birthday and his latest album, You Want It Darker. Cohen, who is known for such iconic songs as Hallelujah, If It Be Your Will, and Suzanne, made his last recording already quite ill. As he put it, his situation was bleak and the discomfort acute. His son Adam sensed that Cohen’s “recovery, if not survival, was dependent on …getting back to work.” The new record opens with the title track, You Want It Darker, and in the chorus, the singer declares: “Hineni, Hineni, I’m ready my Lord.”
Hineni, as I later learned, is Hebrew for “Here I am,” Abraham’s answer to the summons of God to sacrifice his son Isaac. According to the New Yorker, “the song is clearly an announcement of the readiness, a man at the end preparing for his service and devotion.” Leonard Cohen died the following month in November 2016.
Chris – Circulation
Doctor Who, The Complete First Series starring Christopher Eccleston, DVD Dr. Who 2005- Season 1
The British television staple Doctor Who was fully revived in 2005 after being canceled in 1989 and spawning a TV movie in 1996. This time around, Christopher Eccleston portrays the Doctor (the ninth iteration of the character). He brings an intensity and brooding nature to the role, appropriate to the plot and themes of the show, along with the signature whimsicality of the Doctor. The Doctor is a time-traveling alien (who just looks like a human) that stumbles into enemy plots to change the course of history or take over the universe. Some are just out to stop his meddling. But being the last of his kind and traveling through the whole of space and time can get lonely. So he comes to Earth and chooses a worthy companion, Rose Tyler, a shop girl from London, to travel with him and reveal the wonders and perils of the universe to her. A science fiction classic, Doctor Who is made for the whole family, though it can get a bit scary for the younger viewers. The Doctor is always ready to teach a life lesson in humanitarianism, compassion, empathy, and the power of well-reasoned thought over violence. Jump aboard the TARDIS and take a trip to Victorian Cardiff, London, in 1941, the present day, the near future, and the end of the world.