Book Bites: Holiday Reading & More

The year’s winding down and the holidays are picking up. What does that mean? More time to read! This week, we’re featuring new books for all ages, including two that are perfect for the holidays: A sweet picture book about community bonds and a tender novella that screams “future Christmas classic.” Break out the blankets, cozy up to some cocoa, and read on.

Ages 4-8

Red and Green and Blue and White by Lee Wind; illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky 

Most of the houses on Isaac's street are decorated with red and green for Christmas, but Isaac's house is decorated in blue and white for Hanukkah. When Isaac's front window is broken in the night, his friend Teresa comes up with a way to support Isaac and his family. A lovely reminder of how easy and kind it can be to support members in your community.

READ because this lovely true story is full of real holiday spirit.

PASS it around to some friends when you’re done.

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Attend our virtual event with the creators on December 6!

Ages 8-12

Liars' Room by Dan Poblocki

Stella and Alex think their new stepbrother, Simon, is a liar. They recently moved in together in a rambling old house and he's always making up stories about seeing ghosts. They dismiss them as tall tales, but the stories get more insistent.

They decide to investigate and find out sinister truths about their house, a former school for misbehaved boys. Can they bring peace to the spirits? Told in chapters that alternate between the three children and Zachary, Simon's big brother, the accounts fail to add up, and you will begin to doubt all the narrators.

READ this suspenseful supernatural mystery if you’re not ready to let go of spooky season just yet.

PASS if you’re in full-on cookies-and-cocoa mode already.

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Ages 12 & Up

Huda F Are You by Huda Fahmy

Before Huda and her family moved to Dearborn, Michigan, she was always the girl in the hijab. But now she's far from the only hijabi in her high school and she must redefine herself. Will she be the athlete, the academic, the feminist? This charming graphic novel follows Huda through high school as she begins to determine who she is and negotiates disturbing microaggressions from one of her teachers as well as typical school challenges like a first crush. A slice of life graphic novel that's accessible to anyone who has been a teenager!

READ because this is charming and cheeky — and poignant and heartfelt.

PASS if you don’t like funny, fast-paced, and thoughtful books.

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Ages 13-18

If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales & Cale Dietrich

Narrated by Zach and Ruben, two of the members of Saturday (a boyband on par with One Direction, NSYNC, etc.), this is a behind the scenes look at the pressure filled world of a boyband. Each of the four members feels the stress from paparazzi, from management, from family members. Ruben has wanted to come out for years, Angel is sick of being the cute one, Jon wants to keep everyone happy and Zach is realizing he's queer and in love with Ruben. This YA novel is a great fit for fans of Casey McQuiston and anyone who's been a fan of a boyband.

READ if you’re a fan of Phil Stamper, Mackenzi Lee, or Caleb Roehrig.

PASS if you threw out all your siblings’ NSYNC CDs and replaced them with Iron Maiden or Pantera.

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Adult Fiction

Beasts of a Little Land by Juhea Kim

In Juhea Kim's debut novel spanning 1917-1965, the complexities of love and loss in Japanese-occupied Korea are revealed in the lives of the deprived, the wealthy, the powerless and the powerful. Jade, sold into servitude by her starving family, becomes a courtesan and actress and secretly befriends orphaned Jung-Ho who becomes a gang leader out of necessity and a revolutionary in the Communist Party. Their friendship ebbs and flows but remains a powerful bond in this epic novel. 

READ because this is an incredible debut that will stick with you for a long time.

PASS if you’re the rare person who can spot a great multi-generational family saga on the shelf and think, “Nah, not for me.”

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The Anomaly by Hervé Le Tellier; trans. Adriana Hunter

The premise of this genre bending crime/fantasy/sci fi/human drama (can that all be in one book?) is that in March 2021, a French Airliner flying from Paris to Kennedy Airport encountered a rough patch of turbulence. We learn the back stories of some of the passengers in short poignant chapters. In June of 2021, the pilot of the same airliner flight calls in to report that they encountered terrible turbulence and that their equipment was not working. The plot kicks into high gear when air traffic control realizes that this is the EXACT SAME PLANE, CARRYING THE EXACT SAME PASSENGERS. The authorities move to bring the plane down to an air force base, and scientists get in on trying to figure out the how and why. It's thrilling and heartbreaking. Unputdownable!

READ because look at that review! Plus, it was chosen as one of our best books of the year.

PASS if you have somewhere to be in the next eight yours. You’ll want to do this one all at once.

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Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

It is 1985 in a small Irish town. Bill Furlong has much to be thankful for in the weeks leading up to Christmas. His family of five girls are thriving. He is a well respected boss of his coal and wood delivery business. But when he makes a discovery while delivering to a local convent, he begins to question many things. In the following days, he makes a big decision to save a young girl, not much older than his own. This quiet novella gives us a message of hope in desperate times. 

READ this sweet, tender novella because it’s perfect holiday reading.

PASS if you live just north of Whoville and *hate* the holidays.

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Adult Nonfiction 

Lightning Down by Tom Clavin

Joe Moser, a Wisconsin farm boy, joins the Air Force during the Second World War. He and another 150 airmen (British, French, and American) are shot down and captured during the waning years of the war. They are sent to Buchenwald expecting Geneva Convention treatment as airmen. What happens to them is gut wrenching. As the months pass, it seems they will die at the hands of the SS. Their savior is a Luftwaffte officer. The stories told are awful but necessary.

READ because this is a gripping POW saga that will earn its place on any WWII shelf.

PASS if you don’t want to tackle anything too serious until after the holidays.

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