• The cover of the book A Tale for the Time Being

    A Tale for the Time Being

    For Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being, I referenced Murakami and Buddhism.

  • The cover of the book Station Eleven

    Station Eleven

    For Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven, it was “a beautiful post-apocalyptic page-turner.”

  • The cover of the book Levels of Life

    Levels of Life

    Julian Barnes’ Levels of Life was “a meditation on love and loss.” And so on.

  • The cover of the book The Night Before Christmas

    The Night Before Christmas

    After dinner on Christmas Eve, my family gathered in front of the fire in my sister’s living room. The babies had been put to bed. My five-year-old son and six-year-old nephew cuddled on the couch with my dad, who read aloud from a tattered copy of The Night Before Christmas, a Christmas Eve tradition in our family since he was a child.

  • When “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!” closed out storytime, the Jolabokaflod gates opened. I handed out gift-wrapped books to all of the adults (the boys got their own children’s books to open). We passed each wrapped book around the room so that everyone could read the tags, then placed them on the coffee table.

    I gave instructions: everyone choose a book that you’re drawn to, and open it. If you’ve already read it, you can trade with anyone else in the room who holds a book that you’d rather read. I beamed as I watched my family open books that I had loved reading. Shockingly, no one had chosen a book they’d already read, so the White Elephant clause wasn’t invoked. We talked about books as the embers died down, and then everyone went to bed with a new book in hand.

    This year, we’re changing the rules a bit. Everyone will bring their own blind date book to the party. I won’t be the sole Santa in the room, and I’ll learn something new about the people I know best: I’ll get to discover what they loved reading most this past year.

    What a gift.