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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Top 6 Books to Read over Christmas Break!

With Winter Break looming, a lot of people are swearing (for what feels like the millionth time) to pick up one or more good books and be a total bookworm over the break.  Too often though, we get caught up with friends, food (this one especially!), and all the television that seems to have accumulated on the DVR/Netflix queue.

1. "Katherine" by Anya Seton
For those looking for an excellent historical fiction novel that incorporates a little bit of everything, "Katherine" by Anya Seton is perfect.  It really does have everything, I'm not lying: forbidden love, romance, exotic destinations, battles, heartbreak, bloodshed- the list goes on.

For those that are huge history nerds (like myself), it's really fascinating to get a good look at the life of a secretly influential woman- from her line came royals like Henry VIII.  Her children by John of Gaunt were labelled the Beaufort's- a descendent of this line eventually placed her son Henry VII on the throne of England.  Pretty distinguished for the descendent's of a sheltered convent girl!

2. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

"Lolita.  Light of my life, fire of my loins.  My sin, my soul.  Lolita."

Penning those immortal words, Nabokov could have hardly known he was in the process of writing a modern classic (and my favorite, all time book).  Although controversial, it's lyrical beauty is astounding, and enchants those brave enough to read it.

I'm already on my second copy (although I could say that about many books, including "Katherine"), and this book goes everywhere with me.  Whenever I'm asked what I would bring if I was stranded on a desert island, this book is always my number one answer (although it's tied with a cellphone that has reception & the number of the Coast Guard!).

(I also heartily recommend the 1997 movie version starring Jeremy Irons.  In my non-professional opinion, it's far more true to the book, and spirit of the story than the original Kubrick version)

3. Pillars of the Earth/World Without End/Fall of Giants

Basically, any of Ken Follet's historical novels.  Depending on your reading speed and the length of your break, this may take you longer than expected.  Believe me, it's well worth it.

World Without End is sort of a sequel to Pillars of the Earth, so if you only have time to read one, pick "Pillars".  Both take place in the Middle Ages, and are absolutely fantastic.

Fall of Giants is about WWI, so it's much more modern- something that isn't usually a plus for me, but works for this book.

(Pillars of the Earth has a miniseries, which as a fan of the book, I didn't particularly care for.  It also deviated from historical fact more than I would like.  If you're not totally fanatical about one or both of those, then I recommend it as well.)

4. Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin

Less of a lighthearted book, but something that everyone should read at some point, even meat eaters.  I believe wholeheartedly that one should be informed about the choices they make, and the food that you put into your body is something that impacts every part of you.

5. The Crimson Petal and the White

I love the Victorian era, but I rarely find modern novels about the time period that I actually enjoy.  I really like classics, but there's already two on the list, and I didn't want to overload it with Dickens, Collins, and Gaskell (although, Oh my God, yes.  Those three ROCK).

The Crimson Petal and the White is the story about a prostitute named Sugar and her journey through London Society.  It can be a little difficult to explain because there's so much going on, but it's a thoroughly enjoyable-although dark- novel.

I've also heard that somebody is making/has made a miniseries of this starring Romola Garai (my favorite modern actress) as Sugar.  If anyone has seen it, let me know how it is!

6. The Golden Tulip by Rosalind Laker

Less well known than the other books, this one is no less good (at least in my opinion).  It centers around a young woman painter named Francesca, who is apprenticed by the painter Johannes Vermeer(!!!).  Unfortunately for her though, her father's gambling addiction leads their family into serious debt that could threaten her future happiness.

I basically love anything with Vermeer in it, like "Girl With a Pearl Earring" or many of the other novels that involve him, but this is definitely one of my favorites.

I really think one of my favorite things about Winter Break is the opportunity to do so much uninterrupted reading.

 How about you? Do you have a winter reading list (I'll post mine later, these are just suggestions for anyone interested)?


  1. Definitely want to read #1 & #2! I've been totally slacking on reading historical fiction!

  2. I can't recommend number 2 enough:) They're all fantastic though:)



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