It is the Christmas holiday season once again, thank goodness! Most of us can now get some much-needed free time to do some bit of reading and relaxing. However, with so many books to choose from and so little time; it is easy to find yourself paralyzed by the possibilities. So, to help you find the best books for Christmas, here are some top suggestions for your to-read list:
Contemporary, Fiction, and Humor
This is a very funny coming-of-age story. On one hand, we have Will, your typical man-boy with a very strong Peter Pan syndrome. And then we have the kid Marcus who is “the oldest 12-year-old.” And this very weird and crazy friendship sets the whole book in motion. Who is going to teach what to whom? Who is the grown-up? Why don’t you relax before the fire and find out?
Favorite Quote: “Loving people, and allowing yourself to be loved, was only worth the risk if the odds were in your favor, but they quite clearly weren’t. There were about seventy-nine squillion people in the world, and if you were very lucky, you would end up being loved by fifteen or twenty of them. So how smart did you have to be to work out that it just wasn’t worth the risk?”
Mental health is a real issue, and sometimes it takes just a small thing to drive us off the edge. Meet Pat (played by Bradley Cooper in the movie adaptation) who is obsessed with his ex-wife Nikki, the one who drove him off the edge. Now Pat meets weird and odd Tiffany who just invades his personal space and is unapologetic about it. Things get very interesting and we get a tour of Pat’s mind and how he sees the world. Prepare to laugh and cry, and laugh about crying with this book.
Favorite Quote: “I don’t want to stay in the bad place, where no one believes in silver linings or love or happy endings.”
Bordering on sci-fi, this story is a real heartbreaker. We meet a mentally disabled man who writes in his journal how people treat him and how he deals with it. He became subject to an experimental surgery that causes his intellect to shoot even past that of the doctors who are treating him. Life changed like this, he is now seen differently and his circles changed. It is a book that is at times funny but at the same time heart-wrenching as it exposes the human nature of preferential treatment and hypocrisy.
Favorite Quote: “I don’t know what’s worse: to not know what you are and be happy, or to become what you’ve always wanted to be, and feel alone.”
Non-Fiction and Self-help
The end of the year is usually the best time for introspection, especially when you have time for some retrospective thinking. It is time to set your resolutions and get to see where you want to change. This is the best book for you to read. Using quotes, anecdotes, and verses from 60 different and very prominent thinkers from medieval down to modern times, Dr. W Dyer spins and summarizes great lessons to help you succeed and get through life. This book provides practical insights on topics like Love, Nonconformity, Self-reliance, Suffering, Regrets, etc. It is a book to equip you with fine resolutions for the coming year.
Favorite Quote: “Society demands conformity at the expense of individual liberty-it demands that you fit in or be an outcast”
The world is largely sold on the extrovert ideal. Being an introvert is sometimes seen as a sign of weakness. In this book, Susan Cain explores how introversion comes about (nurture or nature) and how introverts have managed to be successful throughout the ages. She explores how introverts can be helped to come out of the shadows and shine for everyone to see. It also advises teachers and mentors on how they can help introverts (who usually hang out in the shadows) flourish in a society where being gregarious is celebrated.
Favorite Quote: “But nowadays we tend to think that becoming more extroverted not only makes us more successful but also makes us better people. We see salesmanship as a way of sharing one’s gifts to the world.”
This book caused a big stir when it came out. In the midst of all the peachy-creamy self-help books about positivity and how we must strive to be happy, Mark Manson writes a book that tells you that it is okay for life to suck and that you do not have to try hard in life. Do not strain yourself, just let go. That is the gospel according to Mark Manson. Starting with the famous “Don’t Try” epitaph engraved on Charles Bukowski’s tombstone, he carries on with great humor and satire to explain the realities of existence. As the book boasts, it is really “a counterintuitive approach to living a good life.” So, when you feel like you have had enough in life, this book provides the best mode to adopt…. if you are bold enough for it.
Favorite Quote: “The more you pursue feeling better all the time, the less satisfied you become, as pursuing something only reinforces the fact that you lack it in the first place.”
One thing you can say about Bukowski: he had his way of looking at the world. This book is probably the best of his poetry collection. Mostly realistic in a tragically funny way, these poems make for a very interesting end-of-year read. They are those kinds of poems that go straight to the heart, dealing with a lot of issues like the estranged life in the city, loneliness, the past, regrets, etc. The verses just flow and you will find yourself longing for more.
Favorite Quote: “Being lost, being crazy maybe is not so bad if you can be that way: undisturbed”
Though she lived a mostly hermit-like life, Dickinson wrote very powerful poetry. With different styles and rhymes, her poetry focuses on many interesting issues; success, solitude, again, and some existential questions. She uses short and precise verses to hit you hard in the feels. These profound poems will put you in a daze, and much-needed respite from the crazy rush of life.
“Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne’er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need”
This started as a book that never was. Dean Koontz would quote from this non-existing book as epigraphs in his thrillers, driving millions of fans around the world into a frenzy searching for this book. He finally wrote it and released it, though mostly in limited copies. It’s a collection of very poignant poems that border a bit on the melancholic and chilled side.
Favorite Quote: “Life is a gift that must be given back and joy should arise from its possession. It’s too damn short and that’s a fact. Hard to accept this earthly procession to final darkness is a journey done, the circle completed, work of art sublime, a sweet melodic rhyme. A battle won.”
We have just all experienced the fear that comes with a global pandemic. When the Covid-19 chaos started, many readers thought of this book and were afraid of such an eventuality. A mutated flu wipes out nearly 99 % of the population, and that was only the beginning. Things get a bit crazier when the rest of the remaining populace (who were already scared and lost) started having these dreams. Two sides to choose in the final confrontation that might determine the fate of the human race. On one side we have the “Dark Man” and all his promises of chaos and carnal freedom. The other side is this old lady who promises peace and unity. But it is never that simple, this is Stephen King we are talking about after all.
Favorite Quote: “Show me a man or a woman alone and I’ll show you a saint. Give me two and they’ll fall in love. Give me three and they’ll invent the charming thing we call ‘society. Give me four and they’ll build a pyramid. Give me five and they’ll make one an outcast. Give me six and they’ll reinvent prejudice. Give me seven and in seven years they’ll reinvent warfare. Man may have been made in the image of God, but human society was made in the image of His opposite number, and is always trying to get back home.”
Christmas time is a time to sit and enjoy stories with family and friends. But no matter how much we share, there are stories that we all have sworn never to share, even on our deathbed. “What was the worst thing you’ve ever done? I won’t tell you that, but I’ll tell you the worst thing that ever happened to me…. the most dreadful thing.” This is how the book starts, a book of four aging men whose past has come back to haunt them. The terror is real, tense, and palpable as they retell the sins of their past. It is a book to give you a real Christmas scare.
Favorite Quote: “…nobody can protect anybody else from vileness. Or from pain. All you can do is not let it break you in half and keep on going until you get to the other side.”
Here is a villain who loves to drive children to his favorite place called Christmas land, a very terrifying place out of this world with all the terrifying amusements and theme parks. Charles Manx and his 1938 Rolls-Royce with the vanity plates NOS4A2 (short for “Nosferatu” meaning vampire in archaic Romanian) is a villain who hides in the obvious. But little Vic can see through all that façade. In this one, Joe hill spins a wonderful horror story that was turned into a TV show. If you love yourself a good Christmas scare then this one is a must-read.
Favorite Quote: “Was there any human urge more pitiful-or more intense- than wanting another chance at something?”
Fantasy and Sci-Fi
Everybody loves a good heist and a gentlemanly thief. This has been proven by the popularity of the TV shows Money Heist and Lupin. Now here comes a heist story to top them all, with a little bit of magic too. Locke Lamora is your typical Oliver Twist, an orphan who got taught the art of thievery. But he is the thief who stole too much and very much enjoyed pulling stunts while at it. He grew up in a crew that called themselves The Gentleman Bastards. These are not just your regular thugs, but a crew that uses wits and brains to pull out feats with very high stakes. But darkness looms now, faced with a relentless opponent without any moral qualms. Locke and his crew face odds and stakes they have never faced before. Did I mention there is magic too?
Favorite Quote: “There’s no freedom quite like the freedom of being constantly underestimated.”
Rothfuss is a bard, the guy has a way with words. If you want to be transported into a world where there is good storytelling and a good story, this is the place to start. We have your typical bartender who knows exactly what brew you might need, but the guy is more than what he seems. Hiding in such a small town, Kvothe cannot get to shake his past while playing bartender. The past catches up with the present, even in such backwater towns where nothing ever happens. He is forced to re-tell his past when ghosts of the days of yore come knocking. This is only just the beginning of the tale of survival of an orphan much like our own Harry Potter who grew up to travel places where no man ever ventured.
Favorite Quote: “You have to be a bit of a liar to tell a story the right way.”
We are now living in a digitalized world; we do not know what the future will be like. Now here is a sneak-peak into a future where virtual reality is now the status quo and where pop culture still reigns. Wade was your typical geek, an old soul, a solitary kid who enjoyed his escapism in games. He then stumbles upon the first clue of this lucrative game that promises a lot of fortune. Suddenly everyone is on his trail. His secretive and solitary life will no longer be the same as everybody wants to know this kid, and not for all good reasons. He did not realize the complexity of the world he had just stepped into. He had to keep all his wits about him just to survive. This is good action-filled read is now a major motion picture directed by Steven Spielberg.
Favorite Quote: “Going outside is highly overrated.”
There you have it folks, a short and manageable list of interesting books for Christmas. Do you feel like there is a classic book out there that everyone should read? please drop us a message and tell us about it.
written for Globalwriters Publishing by David