My Favorite Books for the Holidays


Welcome She-Writers and others, and Happy Holidays to all. I've read some great books this year, and recommend a number of them.

First is a YA favorite, Grave Mercy, His Fair Assassin, by R.L. LaFevers. This is a cracking good read about a young woman in 1500s Brittany who finds herself in a convent of nuns who train young women to kill in the service of a dark lord. Yeah, it's a page turner, and was named one of Publisher's Weekly's top ten YA books for 2012. And, it's the first of a trilogy. The second book will be out in early 2013.

Wild, From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed, recounts Strayed's three-month trek along the spine of the California and Oregon Sierra Nevada, encountering bears and lost toenails, and, more important, herself.

Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn, is a gripping read that will keep you guessing whether the young woman who disappears on her wedding anniversary is dead. I would have preferred a different ending, but you can't have everything you want.

Here are some other favorites I've read this year: The Two Kinds of Decay, by Sarah Manguso; You'd Better Not Die or I'll Kill You, by Jane Heller (for anyone who has ever had to take care of someone else); Just Kids, by Patty Smith; and Moon Tiger, by Penelope Lively.

If you are a poetry fan, you might enjoy my friend and fellow poet Melinda Palacio's new collection, How Fire is a Story, Waiting. It's exquisite.

Finally, if you like philosophical musings, I highly recommend Robert Grudin's Time and The Art of Living. Grudin considers all manner of topics – love, relationships, politics, good, evil, morality, achievement, memory, art, growth and age . . . all in relation to time. He tackles what time is, how we relate to it, how we perceive it. It’s an elegantly written treatise on how to live, given the realities of space and time.

What are some of your favorite reads from 2012?

As an addendum, here is a list of GalleyCat's Most Overlooked Books from 2012.