Book Bites: Hug a Book Today

It's the time of the year for family gatherings, cherished friends, and cozy afternoons snuggled up with a good book. Our shelves are brimming with great new reads, and we know that one of them is the perfect fit for you, no matter your literary taste. Cozy read-aloud? Historical fiction? Coming of age, clever mystery, or tear-jerker? We've got 'em all, with a fun holiday rom-com thrown in, to boot. Discover you next favorite below — read on!

Ages 4-8

How to Send a Hug by Hayley Rocco; illustrated by John Rocco

This is a hug wrapped up in a book! With darling illustrations, How to Send a Hug shows the excitement in both sending and receiving letters. A wonderful book for any child! And one which might even inspire the reluctant adult writer.
— Kimberly

READ because this is a sweet and timeless reminder that we love sending and receiving letters.
PASS if you dislike supporting the US Postal Service.
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Adult Fiction

The Last Party by Clare Mackintosh

Everyone hated Rhys Lloyd. As the former star singer and now owner of the newly developed SHORE on the banks of a Welsh lake, he is everything that the locals and the residents hate. But there is more going on here. His body washes up in the lake after a raucous New Year’s Eve party. Who did it? And why? Ffion from the local PD and Leo from the English side of things pair up to solve the mystery.
— Valerie

READ if you love a clever, complicated detective pair.
PASS because it starts getting dark at 5:00 these days and you get spooked easily.
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Now Is Not the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson

Full of art and misfits, this is a coming-of-age story as only Kevin Wilson could write. One dull, hot Tennessee summer, teenagers Frankie and Zeke share a creative spark and create a poster emblazoned with an enigmatic phrase. This anonymous act spirals into a chaotic string of copycats, questions, panic, and destruction. Twenty years later, a journalist writing about the “Coalfield panic” discovers that Frankie was one of the responsible parties and forces her to confront the past. A warm and resonant novel about growing up, identity, and the power of art.
— Noah

READ because this is even better than Wilson's last book, Nothing to See Here.
PASS if you like dull coming-of-age stories with flat characters.
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Before Your Memory Fades by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Another lovely set of stories in the series that began with Before the Coffee Gets Cold. There is a second cafe in Japan that also has a seat that allows one to travel in time as long as the rules are observed. The stories of why people choose to sit in the chair and what comes of their journeys are so dear. Tender and heartwarming.
— Jennifer K.

READ if you're looking for a book you can cuddle up with and read through the night.
PASS if you're new to this series and want to read them in order.
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The Boy and the Dog by Seishu Hase; translated by Alison Watts

Late one night, a man finds a stray dog outside a convenience store in Sendai, Japan. The dog is malnourished but alert, clearly intelligent and well-trained, wearing a collar bearing the name “Tamon” with no contact information for the owner. The man realizes the dog must have become separated from his family during the tsunami and decides to keep him. This man becomes the first of a series of owners in this dog’s five-year journey to reunite with his family. Six complicated human stories are strung together with the common thread of caring for and being cared for by this exceptional dog.  
— Jennifer K.

READ because this is a gorgeous reminder of just how extraordinary dogs are.
PASS if you think there's nothing special about dogs (get away from us).
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We All Want Impossible Things by Catherine Newman

Ash and her best friend Edi have known each other since pre-school and have a forty-year friendship built on the foundation of their trials and triumphs: bad boyfriends, college, travel, marriage, infertility, children, and the food and drinks that go with these occasions. When Edi is diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer and the end nears, the heartbreaking decision is made by her husband Jude to have Edi live her final days at a hospice near Ash’s own house in order to spare Edi’s young son, Dashiell. Edi's physical needs, the emotional toll of attempting to say all the things, express all the love, wrap up all the loose ends and be the force of strength and goodness falls to Ash, whose own collapse is described in horrifying, yet fascinating detail. Edi and Ash’s hilarious stories of past travels and private jokes create a road map for all of us all who grapple with endings that are never quite clear, always too soon and certainly messy. Humor woven throughout the novel helps balance the heavy themes. Hard to put down, despite knowing exactly how it inevitably ends.
— Raquel

READ if you are a fan of Meg Wolitzer, Maria Semple, or Jenny Offill.
PASS if you're more in the mood for some frothy holiday fun (see end of list!).
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Gilded Mountain by Kate Manning

Richly researched and richly told. Sylvie Pelletier's French Canadian family moves to Colorado for work in the marble mines. The disparity between the wealthy owners and the mine workers is drawn out in great detail. Sylvie is hired to be the secretary for the owner's wife, which is an eye opening experience for a smart teenager. Many stories run through this fine historical novel, including the ramifications of the Civil War, unions, and the "taming" of the wild west. For fans of Lisa See!
— Valerie

READ because Manning is an epic, thoughtful storyteller.
PASS if you prefer to ignore past and present issues of wage inequality.
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Kiss Her Once for Me by Alison Cochrun

Ellie's luck has seemed to run out after she lost her dream job and can't afford rent with her current barista position. That is until Andrew approaches Ellie with a drunken proposal to enter a fake marriage that would allow him to receive his trust, of which she would receive a small percentage. Ellie reluctantly agrees and finds herself getting ready to spend Christmas with his family. What she didn't expect was to run into her one night stand from last Christmas. Will Ellie be able to keep her secrets and feelings to herself?
— Ayah

READ because you're in need of a well-written queer holiday rom-com this holiday season. 
PASS if you have a heart made of ice.
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