Sunday, December 13, 2015

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Christmas books and some Kindle links for cozy Winter reads

I am certain by now you can tell that I am making every attempt to really celebrate this Holiday Season.  It started with taking in the Beauty of October, saw me through our Thanksgiving Feast, and will continue until the first weekend in January when we have a belated Christmas dinner with our son and his wife.

Why?  Well, it is my attempt at coming against the darkness through sparkling.  Huh?  In case you haven't noticed, the world is quite unsettled.  We hear the rumblings of war in the Middle East and terror showed up in Paris.  We are appalled at evil finding its' way into an office Christmas party in a California city.  

For some of us, that darkness has permeated into our homes, for everyone has a Holiday Season when life is far from perfect.  Most of us know someone who is suffering this Season which is to remind us of our Savior and our Salvation.  Life is not fair.  Life can be so... hard.

It isn't Heaven, yet.  But that does not mean we cannot bring light into the darkness.

I embrace the good stuff of the Season in many ways.  I love Christmas movies and Christmas music and Holiday Menus and getting together with people I haven't seen in ages (like friends and former neighbors Sheila and Suzie!).  However, a very favorite way for me to celebrate... and this will come as no surprise... is to lose myself in a Christmas book.

Now, I have written many times of my love for re-reading favorite books.  They are like old, beloved friends.  They are warm and cozy and never ever surprise me with unexpected endings.  They are much like my favorite red flannel housecoat (a Christmas gift from Stephanie the year Elisabeth was born) or the ancient pair of SAS sandals I keep on the boot mat for walking out to check the mail.  When there is no snow, of course.

The characters in much loved books are my friends and quite honestly, I have forgotten at times that they are not real.  I suppose they are very real to those of us who love them. I do read new books now and then at Christmas but they are few and far between.  As it turns out, this year all my books are re-reads.

I don't make a contest of it, should I not get through all of them during the Season, I keep those unread on the coffee table to finish at my leisure.  For never do I want to turn something that is a delight into another form of burden.  Especially during a Season when there is often too much to fit in, anyway.

What am I rereading this year?  Well, I started with some Goudge.  For is there a better place to begin?  After perusing once again A City of Bells, I am now starting The Sister of the Angels.  It is the small sequel that is all about Christmas.  It is quite... magical.  Narnia magic, you know.

I once again have Elizabeth Goudge's A Christmas Book on the re-read stack.  It is another book I found used on Amazon at a very inexpensive price.  Since I am not an actual collector and I will accept a book in "good" condition, I've been able to find some older books at very good prices.  Especially library discards. 

A Christmas Book contains sections from Goudge's various books which are related to Christmas.  Her books provide both a magical sense about them while at the same time they are Christian based.  This is a great book for one to keep out to read "just a little at a time".

For the first time during the Christmas season... but a book already read... I included I Saw Three Ships.  Which is actually a small Christmas story.  I find Goudge's "mystical magical" side not unlike that of Lewis and Tolkien.  Since this story is based on a legend, it leans very much in that direction.

Christmas at Fairacre contains three wonderful Christmas stories by Miss Read.  I already owned a beautiful vintage copy of No Holly For Miss Quinn.  But I didn't have Village Christmas and the Christmas Mouse so I was quite happy to find this book a few years ago, with all three books in one volume.  These stories, about Christmas in an England that is now far past, are as peaceful as stopping for afternoon tea with a friend.

My remaining fiction re-read is one of my all time favorites, Shepherds Abiding by Jan Karon.  It is a stand alone Christmas story from her Mitford series and I think my very favorite of them all.  I love Father Tim, his wife, his town, his dog as big as a Buick (and no, I have not read the latest Mitford book, yet!).

My only nonfiction re-read this year is Winter Song: Christmas Readings by best friends Madeleine L'Engle and Luci Shaw.  It is a combination of short prose and poetry for the Advent season.  If you enjoy reading either of these writers (and especially if you love both as I do), you will also re-read this book every December (or July).  ;)

All of these books bring peace to my heart and in their own ways, remind me of what and Who Christmas is all about.  As with any very well written book, they feed the sparse soul with great Beauty.

I'm including links to Amazon for further information.  But also as a Christmas treat... I have included links to two of my all time favorite trilogies that are being offered at extremely good prices.  

While I much prefer old fashioned hold-in-your-hands books, one of the wonders of the Kindle is being able to read books that were once very difficult to find and if you could, most often priced out of reach for people on a limited budget.  It is quite nice that so many favorite books are now being reprinted in paperback and/or offered for the Kindle.

I don't know why the D. E. Stevenson trilogy that begins with Vittoria Cottage is so inexpensive for the Kindle but it is my favorite Stevenson series.  The first book takes place in England and the second two mostly take place in Scotland.

The Oxford Chronicles is also a favorite trilogy.  The first book begins on the day C. S. Lewis passes away.  It is the story of a family who loved Lewis and were greatly influenced by him and his friends.  The third book of the trilogy partially takes place as a prequel in WWII but it is also quite wonderful and tells us the back story of the parents in the family.

Melanie Jeschke writes beautifully and makes one feel they are in Oxford along with the Inklings.  I read the books in paperback but they recently came out in Kindle format at a very inexpensive price.

While not Christmas related in themselves, they make for cozy Winter reading!

Now... to return to Sister of the Angels, along with perhaps a cup of hot tea.

Amazon links:*
Christmas at Fairacre... here.
Shepherds Abiding... here.
Winter Song: Christmas Readings... here.
I Saw Three Ships... here.
A City of Bells...  here.
The Sister of the Angels... here.
A Christmas Book... here.

Favorite Books now in Kindle*

The Drumberley Trilogy by D. E. Stevenson
Vittoria Cottage... here. ($3.99)
Music in the Hills... here. ($3.99)
Shoulder the Sky... here. ($3.99)

The Oxford Chronicles by Melanie Jeschke
Inklings... here. ($2.99)
Expectations... here. ($2.99)
Evasions... here. ($2.99)

Added Note:  Should you be in search of wonderful vintage titles... my friend, Lanier, has an online bookstore.  Her bookstore link is... here.  She talked about her bookstore recently... here.

*Most links to are Associate links.  Which means I receive a very tiny percentage of each sale.  It cost neither of us anything but a little extra time.  You can enter your Amazon shopping by clicking on any link or on any item in the Amazon Widget.  I thank you.

Image:  Artist, John Sloan


Brenda Leyland @ Its A Beautiful Life said...

A lovely seasonal post ... I so enjoyed seeing what you are reading and I thank you also for the heads up on a few books I've never read. It was here on your blog that I first heard about Elizabeth Goudge -- oh my, I do enjoy her writings -- I'll now look for those Christmasy reads of hers.

Wishing you a beautiful day. Happy reading!
Brenda L.

Linda said...

Brenda, thank you for this post. I was feeling burdened and irritable today, but your words, "never do I want to turn something that is a delight into another form of burden," really spoke to me. I just ordered Vittoria Cottage and plan on allowing myself to set aside the to do list and be refreshed today.
Linda Nichols

suzanne said...

God bless you miss brenda. You bring your own salt and light to us with your blog and I am so grateful for that.

Mary said...

Your pictures keep getting prettier and prettier, Brenda :). I save them all! Thanks for the suggested reading - I'm looking forward to giving them a read. And, I've been saving my Christmas edition of Victoria magazine for the middle of the month before I look at it....almost there!
You are a blessing with a capital "B". So glad I found your blog! p.s. We live about 2 hrs from San Bernardino ;*(. I'm so thankful my husband is retired from law enforcement and we pray for our brothers in blue constantly.

Sherry said...

just 'bought' vittoria cottage for $0! kindle version.

your posts are always so well thought out, brenda.
thank you for taking the time to share your heart,
interests, and links to excellent literature and more. :)

tealady said...

I was an late leaner to learn how to read but let me tell you when I did I read anything I could get my hands on, still do. My reading is my medication, my relaxation and my vacation time.

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

I love book talk.

I have a treasure of a used book store here and if there are books your looking for, send me a list and I'll keep my eye out for them!

I'll need to add a few of these to my own list. I often re-read Shepherd's Abiding each Christmas as well. I agree that many of these books and characters are old friends!


Vee said...

Your discussion of these stories is almost as good as the read itself.

jlt said...

I loved this post! I have almost all of those same Christmas books on my coffee table, too. I've added a few others from the library, including two from Victoria magazine.

Thank you for the links to the trilogies. I have two of the Stevenson books, but haven't yet found the third so I can now complete my trilogy. Years ago on the last Christmas I had with my mother, she gave me the first of the Oxford trilogy. I never thought to check for more and am so pleased that the story was continued.

The light in darkness idea of Christmas helps so much in my thinking about and preparing for the holiday. Thanks for your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

LOVE the Goudge/Miss Read titles you've mentioned! I'm not going to give up in encouraging you to read the Louisa May Alcott Christmas Treasury! I think you would love the short stories it contains as well! Here is a link:

And another for, where I find some of the BEST prices for these out-of-print titles:

Happy Christmas reading! -Joy

Rachel H said...

Last Christmas I worked my way through a book of Christmas short stories that my beloved Uncle Bill gave me years ago. My favorite was a story by Truman Capote. I can't recall the title at the moment, but it is about a little boy who helps his aunt make fruitcake. It was also made into a movie starring Patty Duke. Very sweet story!

Terra said...

We share some similar tastes including Miss Read and I want to read the D.E. Stevenson and the Goudge books you suggest. I recently bought Inklings, the first in the trilogy. As a Christmas gift I will get Christmas at Thompson Hall and Other Christmas Stories by Anthony Trollope. Reading to look forward to.

Anonymous said...

I know I've already left a comment, but someone I know posted this on FB this a.m., and I thought you would love it:

In Iceland, books are exchanged on Christmas Eve, and you spend the rest of the night reading. People generally take their books to bed along with some chocolate. How cozy and wonderful does that sound?

(More fun facts: Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country, and new books are typically only published during the Christmas season- the frenzy is called "Jolabokaflod", or the Christmas Book Flood!)