ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY:   What I want for Christmas

© Another Day in the Country

There is absolutely nothing more delicious than a good book review — from a friend or in the newspaper. Either way, a world of delight is opened up to you between the covers of a book — the most marvelous of inventions. I don’t really care if the book comes on Kindle or iPods or laptops or good old pen and paper, it’s the compilation of words that counts, leading me somewhere I’ve never gone before in my delightfully imaginative mind. The promise of a good book is the best present ever.

This past year I’ve read scads of books, skimmed others, perused some, thrown out a few. I buy them, borrow them, check them out by the armload from the library. My working average is about “one book out of five that’s a good read,” I tell my librarian as she checks out another stack of books. It certainly helps my national average if the book is recommended — not a sure shot but a lot better than having no recommendation, dependant on my intuition and the artwork.

At Christmas, my favorite book ever to read during the Yuletide is “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” by Barbara Robinson. Buy your own copy! This is a miraculous, delightful, funny, poignant, easy-to-read-in-an-evening book. Barbara’s written other books which are ho-hum; but this book is her crowning glory, the one she was destined to put down on paper — a treasure. It’s good to read by yourself but even better to be read aloud in the company of friends.

Another favorite of mine is by Tom Hegg, “A Cup of Christmas Tea.” They’ve had a heyday with this book because it’s a poem, short and sweet and a marketing bonanza. The illustrations are delightful and the cover design recognizable on everything from Tea to teacups. Still it’s a favorite of mine, best served with tea! Works well as a gift; but even more delightful as a reminder that the best present is your presence!

I’m a longtime fan of Garrison Keillor (of public radio fame). I was introduced to him more than 20 years ago by a friend who loved his show “A Prairie Home Companion.” Not all of his books are as easy to read as his voice is to recognize; but “Leaving Home”, a compilation of his radio stories, is a treasure. You’ll love it! It’s most fun to read in a car, to someone else. It is meant to be shared!

This summer, spending time in the Napa Valley with my convalescing daughter, I haunted the local library, delving into my favorite authors with the libraries wide selection of books. I think that almost anything Audrey Niffenegger writes is “good” but the book title I brought home to share with my sister (who is a picky reader) was “Her Fearful Symmetry.” This read is not for everyone — staunch Baptists would probably hate it. You’ve got to be a “what if,” a little woo-woo, mystical kind of reader, able to suspend “logic” and tolerate “maybe” to enjoy the journey. Jess couldn’t put it down. Neither could I. I enjoyed hearing it a second time, since we often read in the car on our way to the gym in Abilene. (And I’m wondering, with a giggle, if anyone in my readership will search for this book. You’ll have to have it ordered in, if you frequent the Marion City Library.)

If you want to do armchair traveling into another culture, “The Kite Runner,” by Khaled Hosseini is good — as is most anything he writes. Elizabeth Gilbert’s, “Eat, Pray, Love” is a great traveling companion and if you don’t read, they’ve both been made into movies.

Lee Child is one of my favorite authors and I’ve read all of his books, including his latest “A Wanted Man,” which is not my favorite because there are too many double turns. His hero, Jack Reacher, whom I love because you can rest in the fact that he’s invincible, is about to be impersonated on the silver screen by Tom Cruise which leads to a huge conflict in my mind with Central Casting. I mean, come on now, Jack Reacher is at least six foot five and Tom Cruise is a small guy. How will Hollywood manage this? I always like the books better than the movies because in the book it’s just me and the author — my show with my imagination.

If you’re nostalgic, I’ll recommend “Another Day in the Country,” by you-know-who. Whatever inspired us to have over a thousand of these books self-published is beyond me. We’ve sold half of them but there are still way to many boxes left in the closet. You’ve met the author and you probably won’t forget the title. Keep reading. I’ll try and keep writing. And, I mean it when I say, Merry Christmas! You’re the Best!

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