One Librarian’s Holiday Reading List

by Kristen Jaques, Head Editor, INALJ Maine

One Librarian’s Holiday Reading List 

KristenJaques2It is said that some dedicated professionals have a hard time learning not to “bring their work home with them.” As a public librarian and book hoarder, I am no exception. While my lovable, zany patrons will not be getting my home address any time soon, our library’s cherished collection of books is different story. During a recent move, I was confronted with the fact that I have at least twenty library books checked out that really should get returned. I’d like to read them all first, since I checked each one out for a reason, but with work, an adult education auto repair class, a “stuff”-storm of personal drama, library adult programs back in full swing, INALJ in the evenings, and the holidays fast approaching, my time for reading has dwindled. In order to sort the books according to which ones need to be read and which ones should be returned immediately, I decided it would be enjoyable to thematically select just a few of the books I associate with each of the upcoming holidays, and channel my reading efforts primarily toward these. Here is my list of books I am looking forward to reading in the upcoming months.


The Walking Dead series, by Robert Kirkman – A library in a neighboring town has a surprisingly complete collection of these graphic novels, and I’d decided to check them out even though I’d fallen behind on the TV show. I love the faster pace of the books. While the TV show adds a lot of plot, I thought it was exciting that by the time I reached the end of The Walking Dead: Volume 2 – Miles Behind Us, I had surpassed plot events that it had taken at least a season and a half of hour-long episodes to see. I am currently reading The Walking Dead: Volume 8 – Made to Suffer.

Highlights from the Goosebumps series, by R.L. Stine – I follow Scholastic’s Facebook page, and they recently showed an advertisement for the Goosebumps books. I am an easy sell. It brought back memories of how much I lived for this series when I was in grades 4-6, and how I would skip buying lunch at school on the days when I knew a new Goosebumps book was being released, so that I would have extra money to buy the book at a small bookshop on the way home from school. After watching TGIF, I would stay up late into the night reading my new Goosebumps book. My own public library still has the whole series, even though the more mature Fear Street series was unfortunately deleted a long time ago. I checked out a few that I don’t remember as well, including: Welcome to Camp Nightmare, Be Careful What You Wish For, Piano Lessons Can Be Murder, and You Can’t Scare Me.

Rage, by Stephen King, from The Bachman Books: Four Early Novels – I learned about the existence of this 1977 novel about a school shooting when King referenced it in his 2013 Kindle single Guns, an essay about gun control. When similar school shootings occurred in real life after this Rage’s publication, Stephen King regretted it so much that he requested and recommended that the book go out of print, with a fair amount of success. Used and new editions are selling online on for hundreds of dollars. Our library happened to have the original edition of The Bachman Books, which included this novel. Later editions of The Bachman Books have since been released which do not include Rage. I am mostly curious to investigate this book because I want to evaluate the content for myself.


Dinner with the Smileys: One Military Family, One Year of Heroes, and Lessons for a Lifetime, by Sarah Smiley – I love books that give me a glimpse into the intimate lives of real families and am very excited to read this book about a woman who invites 52 miscellaneous guests to have dinner with her and her young sons over the course of their father’s yearlong Navy deployment. While the holidays are generally about family, sometimes the most joyful part of being a family is opening your door to include others.    

The Returned, by Jason Mott – From what I’ve read about this book, it sounds like an interesting tale of families and individuals adjusting to a new reality, in which people they have lost in the past are returned from the dead to live among them. It seems fitting to read this book as I prepare to celebrate holidays in which I will undoubtedly find myself remembering those who are no longer with me. 

Christmas (but I am very open to recommendations of great books for other equally important winter holidays!)

A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens – An unexpected favorite book of the past several years. I re-read this book, or at least watch a play or film version every year, and resolve to be a better person, less of a Scrooge, if you will. A Christmas Carol somehow inspires me to stay on the right moral track by making me feel a range of overpowering emotions – remorse for my self-centered youth, forgiveness for some of my less kind and generous moments, relief that I still have time to make up for past (and sometimes current) wrongs, and the desire to be a positive force in the lives of others. I’m pumped. 

A Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin – This book may or may not have anything to do with the holidays, but I am looking forward to reading the whole series this winter. I will hopefully have a lot of time on my hands once I am living by myself in the house where I will be house-sitting for six months.  I’m thinking snow days and hot chocolate. I have so many friends who love this series, but I have put it on the back burner for over a year due to its length. Of all of the library patrons, Goodreads friends, Facebook friends, and other acquaintances I know of who have read these books, I have yet to hear one person describe a negative, less than enthralling reading experience, so I really should tackle these soon.  

Anyway, for those of us who have reading goals to wrap up during the remainder of the year, it’s crunch time. What special books are you looking forward to reading around the holidays?