Season's Readings
from MISD Library Services

In keeping with the traditional holiday song, The 12 Days of Christmas, Library Services would like to gift you with 12 book recommendations. These are some of our favorite reads and we hope that you will find a reading treat among them to give yourself over the holidays.

For the 1st book of Christmas,
some good friends gave to me...
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

During a summer party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is happily dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and watches as her mother speaks to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime. A crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy—her vivacious, loving, nearly perfect mother.

Our take: Kate Morton's books always have two things that we love: an English country setting and a dark secret from the past. This is one of her best.

For the 2nd book of Christmas,
some good friends gave to me...
Defending Jacob by William Landay

When a teenaged boy is found dead in the woods near prosecutor Andy Barber’s suburban home, naturally he takes on the investigation, as he has countless homicides before. But the case may be Barber’s undoing: in an unexpected swerve, Barber’s own 14-year-old son, Jacob, is accused of the murder.

Our take: Family crisis, suspense, guilt and betrayal!! What more could you want? William Landay was a former district attorney and knows exactly how to write about crime. Defending Jacob was a New York Times bestseller a couple of years ago. This is a book that stays with you long after you put it down.

For the 3rd book of Christmas,
some good friends gave to me...
Go Down Together by Jeff Guinn

Forget everything you think you know about Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker. Previous books and films, including the brilliant 1967 movie starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, have emphasized the supposed glamour of America's most notorious criminal couple, thus contributing to ongoing mythology. The real story is completely different -- and far more fascinating.

Our take: This book IS fascinating. For those who live in the Dallas area, it is so interesting to read about familiar places and try to picture what those areas looked like in the 1930s. Mary also connected on a personal level, remembering her granddaddy's stories about going to see the bodies of Bonnie and Clyde laid out in the funeral home! With newly revealed information from surviving family members, this book was extremely well-researched and written.

For the 4th book of Christmas,
some good friends gave to me...
Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell

On a clear night in late June 2005, four U.S. Navy SEALs left their base in northern Afghanistan for the mountainous Pakistani border. Their mission was to capture or kill a notorious al Qaeda leader known to be ensconced in a Taliban stronghold surrounded by a small but heavily armed force. Less then twenty-four hours later, only one of those Navy SEALs remained alive.

Our take: You may have seen the movie but the book is so detailed and gives such vivid descriptions of the life of a US Navy SEAL and one momentous mission. Read the book!! It gives such pride in our armed forces and the sacrifices they make for us every day!

For the 5th book of Christmas,
some good friends gave to me...
If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love—music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind?

Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it's the only one that matters.

Our take: Skip the badly reviewed movie version and read this wonderful YA novel instead. So, so good!

For the 6th book of Christmas,
some good friends gave to me...
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes
by Mem Fox

This is a gorgeously simple picture book for very young children, and once you finish the rhythmic, rhyming text, all you’ll want to do is go back to the beginning . . . and read it again! The luminous watercolor illustrations of these roly-poly little ones from a variety of backgrounds are adorable, quirky, and true to life, right down to the wrinkles, dimples, and pudges in their completely squishable arms, legs, and tummies.

Our take: This has become Debbie's favorite to gift for new babies and is PERFECT as the bedtime "go to" book. It would make a great Christmas gift for anyone with small children.

For the 7th book of Christmas,
some good friends gave to me...
18 Minutes by Peter Bregman

Based upon Peter Bergman's weekly Harvard Business Review columns (which is one of the most popular columns on, receiving hundreds of thousands of unique page views a month), 18 MINUTES clearly shows how busy people can cut through all the daily clutter and distractions and find a way to focus on those key items which are truly the top priorities in our lives.

Our take: We are suckers for a good productivity blog or book - always tweaking our organizational methods and looking for better ways to keep track of all we have to do. This book is written in short little chapters that have great ideas for how to stay focused and not get bogged down with time wasters - like maybe reading productivity books? ;-)

On the 8th day of Christmas,
some good friends gave to me...
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—"Cupid Day"—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night.

However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined.

Our take: This Young Adult novel is available as an audio book from the Digital Library. The reading is well done and pulls you in quickly. Think a dark "Groundhog Day".

On the 9th day of Christmas,
some good friends gave to me...
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called "Le Cirque des Reves," and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway--a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love - a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per-formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Our take: How to describe this book? Richly imagined, haunting, hypnotic, beautiful, totally original. We've really never read anything else like it.

On the 10th day of Christmas,
some good friends gave to me...
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette's brilliant and charismatic father captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn't want the responsibility of raising a family, so the Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.

Our take: You may remember this book being in the news recently. It was on the Highland Park controversial book list that some wanted to ban. It is heartbreaking and hopeful and reminds us that we never know what our students live through at home.

On the 11th day of Christmas,
some good friends gave to me...
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of color. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time.

Our take: This is one of the best books we read this year. It broke our hearts and we used up lots of Kleenex with this one! You've been warned.

On the 12th day of Christmas,
some good friends gave to me...
Getting Things Done by David Allen

In Getting Things Done Allen shows how to:

* Apply the "do it, delegate it, defer it, drop it" rule to get your in-box to empty

* Reassess goals and stay focused in changing situations

* Plan projects as well as get them unstuck

* Overcome feelings of confusion, anxiety, and being overwhelmed

* Feel fine about what you're not doing

From core principles to proven tricks, Getting Things Done can transform the way you work, showing you how to pick up the pace without wearing yourself down."

Our take: The new year is almost upon us with new year's resolutions right behind! If you have "get more organized" on your list, this book is for you. We read it several years ago and still use many of the methods like the "2-minute rule". If a task takes less than 2 minutes, do it and move on.

We hope that one of these books of Christmas finds its way to your home this holiday season. If you have a book for us, leave it in the comments below!

Merry Christmas and Happy Reading!

Comment Stream

3 years ago

Two of my very favorite books are on here; Lone Survivor and Me Before You. Both will require an extended amount of time in a comfy chair as deciding where to stop will be difficult. Even KNOWING how each one will end didn't detract from the plot. Looking forward to reading The Glass Castle! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you, Library Services!!

3 years ago

Thanks so much for all of the wonderful suggestions.

3 years ago

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart is the book I'm sharing with all my friends. I have an autographed copy and the authors wrote "Please lie about this book." You should read it -- and that's no lie!

3 years ago

I love the book suggestions! Thank you!!

3 years ago

Thank you for not only the suggestions and blurbs but also your take on the reads. I will add 18 Minutes, The Night Circus, The Glass Castle, and Me Before You, to my Must Read List.