Reading Survival Guide: Christmas 2015

To get home for the Christmas holiday, I have to take two subways (1.5 hours), wait at the airport (2+ hours), fly in the sky (6.5 hours), hop on the tube (1 hour), and hopefully not miss the train (2+ hours). You know what that means...13 hours of reading! Not to mention the mandatory time spent hiding from family members that drive you crazy. My "Reading Survival Guide" aims to give you some book recommendations that could help you cope with this hectic time.

CAN'T AND WON'T BY LYDIA DAVIS

From the "Eat, Drink & Be Literary" evening with Lydia Davis at BAM in NYC (March 2015)

From the "Eat, Drink & Be Literary" evening with Lydia Davis at BAM in NYC (March 2015)

 

Prescription: Whether she's writing about salami, frozen peas, or a train journey, whether it takes her a paragraph or a page to tell her story, there's no one quite like Lydia Davis. She pulls you in quickly and pops you out just as abruptly.

Dosage: Read 1-5 stories before bed to calm the mind. Stories do not need to be ingested in any particular order to receive the desired effect.

 

THE ICE PALACE BY TARJEI VESAAS

 

Prescription: Unn moves to a small village in Norway where she experiences an intense and disquieting connection with Siss, the leader of the schoolchildren. To clear her mind, she visits the ice palace, a waterfall that has been frozen by the vicious Norwegian winter. The descriptions of the cold, Siss's emotions, and the village residents are what set this book apart from any other.

Dosage: Read on an otherwise cheery day (or side effects may include serious gloom and sorrow), preferably in front of a fire with some hot chocolate. Do not mix with Adrift (see below).

 

THE CHOSEN BY CHAIM POTOK

 

Prescription: If you're sick of hearing about Christmas, rest assured you won't in this book of two Jewish boys (one Hasidic, one Orthodox) who become unlikely friends and together navigate 1940's Brooklyn, fathers who strongly disagree with the one another's belief system, and the onset of young adulthood.

Dosage: Read in lieu of tacky television. May require a follow-up dosage of My Name is Asher Lev by the same author.

 

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE BY J. D. SALINGER

 

Prescription: This festive tale takes place in December in New York City, and what's cheerier than a teenage boy's breakdown over the Christmas period. Holden takes the reader through the city during the most wonderful time of the year, complete with prostitutes, pimps, and plays. You can't go wrong.

Dosage: Read on any form of transportation when you don't wish to be interrupted. Can double as a gift to your sixteen-year-old cousin sulking in the corner.

 

a corner of white by jaclyn moriarty

 

Prescription: Madeleine lives in Cambridge, England and Elliott lives in the Kingdom of Cello. One day, they start communicating with one another through a crack between their two worlds, a crack that hasn't been used in centuries. Soon, the mysteries and events in each of their lives are intertwined in this extraordinary story told by an author of great imagination, intelligence, and wit.

Dosage: Read throughout the day while waiting for mince pies to bake or a bus to arrive. Will cure any headache or loss of humor. All ages.

 

Adrift by paul griffin

Paul signing copies of Adrift in Books of Wonder in NYC (summer 2015)

Paul signing copies of Adrift in Books of Wonder in NYC (summer 2015)

 

Prescription: Matt and John, two working class young men from Queens, meet the captivating Driana and her two friends at the beach. Later that night, they decide to take a boat out on the water for some fun. What follows is an adventure of clashing personalities and a brutal ocean with long-lasting consequences.

Dosage: Those aged 12 and up should read this whenever a family storm is brewing. Side effects can include loss of hearing when others are talking to you and a temporary fear of water.

 

the indian in the cupboard by lynne reid banks

 

Prescription: An unwanted plastic Native American figurine, a small cupboard found in an alley, and an old key...the ingredients for a magical recipe of drama, demands, and daring.

Dosage: Read to/with children ages 7 and up, especially those who feel they received boring presents this year.