What are you wishing for this Christmas? When I was a kid in Maine, our family awaited with great anticipation the arrival each fall of the Sears & Roebuck Christmas catalogue. It featured clothes, furniture, and home goods as well as sports equipment and toys for every taste and budget. What an incubator for the imagination! They called it the Wish Book, and I always had my personal wish books too.
After the holidays finished, my younger sister and I snipped paper dolls and dollhouses out of the Wish Book and played with them all winter long. We set up house on the living room floor and turned the cut-out characters into wish books of another kind: Story worlds. Quite possibly I apprenticed as a storyteller by transforming catalogue models into plots and protagonists.
And ever since I learned to read, books have topped my Christmas wish list. First, it was Dr. Seuss and The Bobbsey Twins. Later Nancy Drew… This year, a library bag of Agatha Christie from another sister takes the grand prize. Just about the best gift I can imagine is a bookstore gift card.
This reminds me of the suggestion I heard a couple of years ago about what you should give and/or get for Christmas:
- Something you want – This is the fun part. I admit I’ve never been one of the satisfied souls who can’t think of a single thing they want. I always wish for a new tin for my collection 😊 — or jellybeans or peanut butter fudge…
- Something you need – No problem with this practical category either. We can always use a car or computer or coffee pot, right?
- Something to wear – Here’s where your socks, PJs, and mittens come in. And underwear if you don’t believe in Santa, so they say!
- Something to READ – Last but far from least. In our family, we’d add something to write in, too—a diary, journal, or notebook. Can I encourage you to put BOOKS near the top of your list?
What wish books have made my list this year? This is a matter of individual preference, of course, but I enjoy a wide variety, something for every area of personal interest and/or study. Besides the Bible, I usually rotate daily through a five-book reading list which at any given moment includes some or all of the following:
- Devotional/Spiritual Life – Top choice of 2021 for me: Whisper by Mark Batterson and Women Finishing Well by Chris Syme. First for 2022: Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers by Dane C. Ortland.
- Self-Care/Personal Growth – Most inspiring in 2021: The Chilean Kitchen by Pilar Hernández & Eileen Smith and The Original Design for Health by Dr. Mark Shannan. Next up for me in 2022: How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind by Dana K. White and The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.
- Writing Ministry/Craft/Research – Most helpful in 2021: In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin and The Successful Author Mindset by Joanna Penn. Coming up for me in 2022: The Magic Words by Cheryl Klein and some of Isabel Allende’s novels set in Chile.
- Educational/Bestsellers & Classics/Recommended – Most interesting reads of 2021: The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman, The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim, and In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. Catching my eye for 2022: A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage, How Soccer Explains the World by Franklin Foer, and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.
- Just for Fun/Mystery/Reader’s Choice – Best of 2021: The Fifth Avenue Story Society by Rachel Haucke and ? I’m picky. 2022 sampler: The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray, #3-5 of Dani Pettrey’s Submerged series (Christian romantic suspense), the next in Katherine Reay’s Jane Austen spin-offs, and anything by Anne Perry, Ellis Peters, or Katherine Hall Page.
All of the above sounds random, even to me. I write fiction, but fill up on lots of nonfiction too. You’ll see some old books and some new ones. Some I’ll soon forget, some I’ll continue to chew on for months or years to come. Most probably won’t make top picks of the decade. Fewer still will impact my mind and heart forever.
But how time flies when you’re reading, right? I can’t say I ever get (or get to) enough books. We can’t possibly read everything that calls to us. So many books, so little time, sigh…
If you share that “obsession,” let me add here a couple of hot tips from my publisher:
- Buy from your Book Wish Lists early – Apparently there’s a worldwide shortage of paper and ink at present, plus a generalized situation of distribution delays. You can read about the current challenges for the publishing world on Lisa’s post, “Distribution Disruption and the Christmas Dilemma.” The early buyer gets the book this holiday season!
- Buy ebooks – Lisa’s (and my) helpful hint for coping with the shortage of print books is… Learn to love digital books. No way could I read as much as I do where I live without my e-reader or digital reading app.
Yes, I know. I love print books too. We’ll probably always crave the feel of paper and the smell of ink. BUT they’re going to become more expensive to produce and take longer to deliver. We need to open up to the faster and (usually) cheaper gift alternatives. Believe it or not, you might even start to prefer them. Lisa has come up with some great ideas on how to enhance ebooks as gifts, too.
‘Tis the season, my friends...
I just returned from a community tree-lighting and carol sing—the first I’ve experienced in several decades. For me, a moment of home cultural nostalgia. I apologize for disappearing-in-action over these past weeks.
Between all the celebrations, I’ve been traveling and gathering material for more stories. And next Christmas I hope to see Pursuit of the Pudú Deer and Legacy of the Linnebrink Light (next in my Desert Island Diaries series) among our wish books, in print and digital.
If you’ve read Destiny at Dolphin Bay, I’d be grateful for the gift of a short review or even just a rating on my book’s page at Amazon. And please, I’d love for you to share your Wish Books, too.