Out of chaos, we humans make order. That is, after all, what a story is — a narrative, a tall tale, a long and funny piece of family history, a way of imposing ourselves onto a world that can be a mad mess of insanity. As the holidays arrive, that madness can be the stress of Christmas shopping, of baking endless fruitcakes and cooking huge meals, of preparing to travel through a snowstorm or to host family and friends.
So yay for the Christmas-themed book! You’ll find quite a few at the Lennoxville Library, and we’re open until Saturday, Dec. 22 at 4 p.m., to help bring a bit of calm into your life. For the very little ones, try Santa’s Jolly Belly (written by Nancy Parent and illustrated by Adam Devaney). For the slightly older, there’s Scaredy Squirrel Prepares For Christmas: A Safety Guide For Scaredies (Melanie Watt, 2012); please wear mittens while reading – you wouldn’t want to get a paper cut. Adults can follow Father Tim’s adventures in Shepherds Abiding (Jan Karon, 2003). Fern Michaels pens the marquee tale in the fiction collection Silver Bells (2008), about film star Amy Lee leaving Tinseltown for her hometown in Pennsylvania for Christmas (and meeting up with an old boyfriend). The inspirational Donna VanLiere has a Yule series, which includes 2009’s A Christmas Secret (donated to the library by Margaret Owens). David Morrell’s The Spy Who Came For Christmas features multiple shoot’em-ups in Sante Fe, and Cleveland Amory writes about how he was adopted by his superior, The Cat Who Came For Christmas (1987).
Can’t find it? Ask us!
For those who want to completely escape the holidays, there’s lots of other options. Need a primer for this season’s blockbuster Hollywood movies? Before watching Tom Cruise chew the scenery as Jack Reacher, check out author Lee Childs’ original imagining of his famously hard-nosed murder investigator. The Hard Way is available on a five-CD set (about six hours of listening time, perfect for a long drive home), and read by Dick Hill (2006). Or check out the fiction book stacks for the novels (from 2001’s 61 Hours to last year’s Echo Burning, to the newest library purchase, A Wanted Man).
That old stand-by The Hobbit is back on the silver screen, too. The library has J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic tale of Middle Earth, the evil Sauron, his magical gold ring, Orcs, and those nervy little dwarves, too. It’s in Young Adult Fiction, along with the Lord of the Rings series, and The Silmarillion (1977) and Children of Hurin (2007, edited by Tolkien’s son). You’ll also find The Hobbit on cassette in the Audio section.
Sometimes, of course, there’s more than simply a need for a few moments of calm in the middle of the holidays. Literature can help us make sense of far more tragic events. In the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting, National Post newspaper columnist Christie Blatchford wrote earlier this month: “The wisest story I’ve ever read about a mass school shooting is a work of fiction – no accident, I suspect, for it takes distance to see past the horror of such things.” She’s talking about Lionel Shriver’s 2003 novel, We Need to Talk About Kevin – also, it turns out, made into a film in 2011 with Tilda Swinton. It’s narrated by the mother of a teenaged killer. Perhaps stories can help us understand that there seems to be, sometimes, no way of making sense. We can offer our heartfelt sympathy, and count our blessings.
Certainly the holidays can be a time of loneliness or bickering. But, thankfully, for many it is also about remembering those we love (but don’t slurp your milk that way, darn it) and of busy, busy, busy-ness. A book can help us find ourselves through the words of another.
Parents will especially appreciate the way kids can quiet down (for a short while, at least) when they find a story they like. Check out our large children’s sections (a GREEN dot means non-fiction for children; other dots are for children’s fiction: suggested ages 0 to 2, RED; ages 3 to 6, BLUE; ages 6 to 9, YELLOW; ages 9 to 12, ORANGE.), plus the Young Adult novels and graphic novels. And remember, parents, to take a half-hour to read with your young one, celebrating the real meaning of the Yule season. And take a few moments for yourself, as well, for a good story.
– Eleanor Brown, Dec. 21, 2012