I use Grammarly for english proofreading because the longer you look at a word, the stranger it looks, and sometimes you really need a second opinion before you hit that publish button!
Is it too early to start thinking about finding the perfect gift for all of the bookworms on your holiday gift giving list? I don’t think so; in fact, a quick glance at my Google Calendar tells me there are only 9 Saturdays between now and Christmas Day – and only 5 weeks from now until Hanukkah begins!
Since the holidays are quickly approaching, I thought this would be a good time to look back over the books I have read this year and pull together my favorites to get you started on your literary gift-giving quest.
To start off, here are two books (one fiction and one non-fiction) that combine two seemingly unrelated topics: gorillas and autism. Actually, both are great books, and I would recommend them to any serious reader even if these aren’t their usual subject matter!
1. Three Weeks in December by Audrey Schulman – I read this book for my book club earlier this year and was completely enthralled by it. The book follows the stories of two separate people who spent time in Africa almost 100 years apart. Although their circumstances are very different, they are each on a journey of personal discovery that leads them to some surprising places. This is definitely a great choice for someone who likes to be whisked away to distant lands through their books.
2. Songs of the Gorilla Nation: My Journey Through Autism by Dawn Prince-Hughes – This was another book club selection, prompted by the first one as it also covers the subject of gorillas through the eyes of someone on the autism spectrum. In this memoir, Ms. Prince-Hughes shares with us her life story as it relates to discovering her neurological differences as well as how she was able to relate to and find meaningful work with gorillas. Fascinating look into both the world of gorillas and the uniqueness of the human mind.
This next one is the lightest read of the bunch and was great fun!
3. The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig – For the reader on your list who is always on the hunt for a new series with lots of titles to devour, this is one they might have overlooked. I know I hadn’t come across it until my college roommate recommended it to me, and now I am on the sixth book already! The series rests on a modern-day graduate student who has come to England to work on her thesis involving the activities of aristocratic spies during the Napoleonic era, and each book focuses on the adventures and romances of a different spy while also giving us glimpses into the ongoing academic and romantic saga of our modern-day researcher.
Next up, two great contemporary novels that explore the meaning of family and connection:
4. The Shortest Way Home by Juliette Fay – This is the third novel by an author that never fails to offer a realistic while still hopeful look into the importance of rediscovering and maintaining our connections to family. Loved it!
5. The Repeat Year by Andrea Lochen – This was a super fun read about a woman who goes to sleep on New Year’s Eve 2011 and wakes up on New Year’s Day – 2011! As she relives an entire year of her life, she struggles to make better choices and hopes that she will get things right the second time around. Perfect light read with a deeper meaning for the time of year when we are all reflecting on how our lives are going and wondering what we could have done differently over the past twelve months.
For those who prefer non-fiction, here are two of my favorite reads from this year on the subject of faith and how it impacts our lives:
6. WEIRD: Because Normal Isn’t Working by Craig Groeschel – My pastor preached a sermon series inspired by this book earlier this year, so I picked it up based on his recommendation and was both impressed and challenged by it. Groeschel deals with everyday situations and questions we all face and talks about how our faith in God could affect the way we respond to these challenges. He has a very approachable writing style and I had no problem finishing the book in a pretty short time frame. (I mention this because it is common for me to start out very interested in a non-fiction book only to have my interest wane after a couple of chapters, but that was definitely not the case here!)
7. The Zippered Heart: Healing for the Secrets We Hide Inside by Marilyn Meberg – I was introduced to Marilyn Meberg recently through the New Life Live radio program which I listen to daily and was intrigued to know more about where she was coming from on matters of faith and psychology. After a bit of looking around, I picked up this book from the local library. And Wow! I am glad I did. She is not afraid to tackle the things we usually prefer to keep secreted away deep inside, even hiding them from ourselves much of the time. But she approaches each topic with such clarity and mercy – I highly recommend this book for the Christian woman in your life!
And finally, a pair of stories that give a couple of new twists to the classic Robin Hood Legend. Both of these were well done and offered a new take on the old story that any fan of historical fiction or fairy tales would appreciate!
8. Robin: Lady of Legend (The Classic Adventures of the Girl Who Became Robin Hood) by R.M. ArceJaeger – What if Robin Hood were a woman? This was a fresh twist on the old tale, and I greatly enjoyed it. I liked the writing so much, in fact, that I have sought out more of this author. I would also recommend the short story A Stepmother’s Story: The TRUE Tale of Cinderella!
The Ghost of Sherwood: A New Robin Hood Tale by Wilson Harp – This look at the Robin Hood story takes it even farther – all the way to the idea that the outlaw was actually the invention of the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham! The historical setting felt very real, from the physical setting to the way the culture and politics worked at the time. There is also a good mix of action and humor within the overall story, especially as the sheriff keeps digging himself deeper as he is trying to extricate himself from the situation he has created. This is another author I have become a great fan of; he has even written a novella in the Silo Saga Kindle world, called The Law Man.
Well, I hope this short list of titles has given you some ideas for the perfect holiday gift for the bookworm in your life. If you have other suggestions, I would love to hear them. Please leave me a comment with the titles you think I should be putting on my own list this year!