Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas and children's books for December

This entire month is incredibly full of academic reading!  I'm currently finishing up my last term paper, a historiographical survey of  English Reformation musical scholarship, but when I turn that in, I'm not really on vacation, since I need to get back to studying for my doctoral qualifying exams in January.  My paper included not only a survey of over twenty musicology books, but also perusal of perhaps thirty more historical or literary books on similar genres in order to suggest further research directions.  It sounds a little overwhelming, and perhaps it has been, but at the same time, it's been quite a luxury to spend two full weeks thinking only about the English Reformation!  Here's a sample of my reading material for this project: all of these books came in for me at the library in a single day last week!

I'm one of those odd graduate students who, when confronted with a lot of reading, likes to do even more of it in my free time.  My brain is awfully full of academic thinking, so recently, I've been craving children's and young adult fiction, especially my old favorites, the science fiction and fantasy genres.  Silly me, it took me several days of longing for children's fiction but being unwilling to order it through ILL (I make those poor people work hard enough, bringing in obscure theology and history books!) before I finally remembered that we do in fact have a public library!  So here's the source of my ongoing happy dance (and much joyful, relaxing, nostalgic reading):
In case the titles are hard to see, I have the sixth through eighth books in the Artemis Fowl series (I've never read the last one, which just came out this year, and am really looking forward to it!), Tuck Everlasting, Shannon Hales's highly acclaimed Princess Academy (with thanks to Amy at Sunlit Pages for the recommendation!), Harriet the Spy, three of the Dear America diaries, Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic quartet, and Among the Hidden (the first in the Shadow Children series, which I loved as a kid but only ever managed to read a few).

And of course, it's just about to be winter break, which means it's almost time for my annual winter break Bronte novel - one can't study constantly, after all!  And since some of you lovely bloggers have been posting great seasonal recommendations, I checked out a few wintery and Christmassy books too.  Finally, I've been dying to reread The Lord of the Rings, and while it won't bother me at all to put it off until next year, I pulled out my copy just in case it caught my eye this month.
In this pile is the aforementioned LOTR, Agnes Grey (time to finally give Anne Bronte a try!), G.B. Stern's Ten Days of Christmas, a collection of George Herbert poetry, Nancy Mitford's Christmas Pudding (though it may not actually have much to do with Christmas; I can't recall the review), Eowyn Ivey's The Snow Child (thanks to Simon for introducing this novel to us), and finally, Alice Thomas Ellis's The Inn at the Edge of the World, which Jenny at Shelf Love wrote about way back in 2011 - Jenny, it's been on my to-read list ever since and I'm delighted to read it this Christmas season!

I've actually already read a few of these children's and Christmas books - such an exciting stack of library books couldn't go untouched for long.  I hope to post a batch of short reviews soon.  In the meantime, I wonder: what are you reading this December?  Have you picked out any great seasonal books to try?  Are there some reading traditions you always stick to at this time of year?  Have you ever read anything drastically out of its season?  (I did that once - I read Jove Jansson's The Summer Book in the dead of winter, shivering under a blanket on my couch, and loved its ability to transport me to a different climate.)


  1. It's nice to see someone else reading George Herbert right now. ;)

    1. I've never read him before, but bits of it keep getting mentioned and I've loved everything I've heard. Since I know next to nothing about the man and his poetry, I'd love to hear whatever wisdom you can share!