At our house, we love to read. I mean, really love to read. We're definitely at the library once a week, and often twice or three times. Despite my perpetual reducing of stuff, books (usually from thrift stores) keep making their way into the house and onto our bookshelves. Probably at least half of the gifts under our Christmas tree are books each year. Adam's in a book club, I'm in a different book club. Both boys were reading before they started school, and it was definitely the way I spent a lot of my time when I was growing up. (The Anne of Green Gables (Rilla of Ingleside, especially) and Emily series' were my favourites as a kid.) Books are the main thing that need to be picked up from every possible surface as we're tidying. We love books.
We love books so much that if we're not actively reading them, we're talking about them. As we were eating supper the other night, Adam asked the boys what their top three books of this year they would recommend to other people and why. And I thought it would make great fodder for a post, and possibly even be helpful if you're looking for a last-minute gift.
And so, may I present the Grahams' 2016 book recommendations, in their own words!
- Missile Mouse - The Star Crusher (graphic novel): "I like it because Missile Mouse has to rescue a GSA (Galactic Security Agency) scientist named Ulrich. He gets sucked into an energy black hole and gets drawn into dark plasma so that he fuses with it and he destroys and entire RIP (Rogue Imperium of Planets) fleet."
- Treasure Hunters : Danger Down the Nile: "I like it because there's the Kidds kids who need to find a certain type of vase. At the end there's boars that are going to charge but a group of lions comes along and pounces at them."
- Avatar - The Last Air Bender (graphic novel): "I like it because there's the Avatar Aang, and he's the Avatar can earth bend, fir bend, water bend, and air bend."
- Land of Stories (series): "I like The Land of Stories series because it's funny, and there's magic in it. I also like this series because the author makes it so you think one thing's going to happen, but really something else happens."
- The Adventurer's Guide to Successful Escapes: "I like this book because it has magic in it, and dragons. The dragons can shoot fireballs at you to transport you to a different spot. I got to meet the author yesterday; he's from here in Yarmouth! (In a whisper) And we bought a copy for my brother."
- Treasure Hunters (series): "This book is a) a really good book because the author is a good author, b) because it's funny c) because it's kind of like a journal or d) all of the above. Answer: d."
- Birdie: "Every year my book club reads the Canada Reads finalists and I always end up with a new favourite. This year it was Tracey Lindberg's Birdie. It tackles some of the very difficult topics in First Nations communities in a really beautiful and often humorous way."
- Between the World and Me: "This podcast episode was my introduction to Ta-Nehisi Coates and it made me want to read some of his writing. Written as a letter to his teenage son, this book is a moving look into what it means to grow up as a Black man in America. I highly recommended it as a guide to help give background to so much of what has happened in the last year."
- Just Mercy: "If you borrow my copy of this book, you'll have to ignore any water stains from my tears. With incredibly touching humanity, Bryan Stevenson tells stories from his work as a lawyer helping inmates on death row. It's made even more timely by the recent votes on capital punishment in some States. You can check out Stevenson on this podcast or see his Ted Talk here."
- Bonus: Big Magic: "I actively avoided reading this when it first came out (mostly because it was popular) and had really low expectations when I picked it up. It didn't take very many pages of reading, though, before I changed my mind. This book (and the accompanying podcast) have changed the way I think about both my work as a photographer and my personal creative projects."
- 3191 A Year Between Friends: My favourite non-fiction book of the year. I had been eagerly anticipating it since the beginning of 2015, and it didn't disappoint. It's the perfect gift for a friend who lives far away, and is full of inspiration for creative projects all through the year.
- The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny - Armand Gamache series #8. This series has been my primary fiction reading for about a year, and this book was my favourite in the series so far. This is kind of a trick recommendation, though, because you really truly need to read the entire series in order in order for things to make sense. So start with Still Life, the first in the series. (And for a festive mystery mood, The Mistletoe Murder by PD James, pictured above is perfect. I'm really managing to squeeze in some extra recommendations here.)
- Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear: If you are in any way involved in any kind of creative project (and that would be everyone, I believe), this is a book that you should read. (And I am reluctant to tell people what to do.) The list of ways that fear stops us was so helpful to see in print. I actually listened to the accompanying podcast, Magic Lessons before reading the book, and you should listen to that, too. Adam read it, too, and we're now encouraging each other on in a few creative projects.