Saturday, December 3, 2011

Your Favorite Book For Christmas . . .

by Lorna Barrett / Lorraine Bartlett / L.L. Bartlett

When writing a mystery, it's best not to introduce too many coincidences in your storyline.  It's just not plausible, right?

The other day, USA Today ran a story on authors and the favorite book they ever received for Christmas.  The top picture was of author Chris Bohjalian holding up a copy of "The Joyous Season" by Patrick Dennis.

Holy coincidence, Batman--I'm reading that exact book now!

Mind you, this book was originally published in 1964.  I first read it while in high school.  I think I must have read that book about 40 times over the past 30 years (and 25 of them were during my four years in high school).  Yet another comfort read.  And yet I hadn't picked it up in at least 20 years.  For some reason, I reached for it the other night.  And then came the USA Today article.

Mr. Bohjalian received it as a Christmas git when he was in sixth grade.  He described it as a "hilarious and underappreciated 1965 tale of one Manhattan family's near-implosion--and Mom and Dad's near-divorce--in the holiday season.  It's narrated by the family's acerbic, insightful and precocious 10-year-old son, Kerry (which he tells us, 'is short for Kerrington, for cripes sakes').  Imagine Holden Caulfied with a sense of humor."

I will admit there are things that date it, but if you can overlook that (example:  people who smoke all the time, which they did in 1964), it's still quite a funny book. And when it comes to discussing divorce, the situations portrayed are just as contemporary as they are today.

Other authors mentioned their favorite Christmas book gifts:

Janet Evanovich:  The Black Stallion  (she still has it)
Dean Koontz:  The Wind in the Willows
James Patterson:  Ulysses
Patricia Cornwell:  How The Grinch Stole Christmas

I've received MANY books for Christmas and I reread a lot of them over and over again.  But the one that stands out in my mind is a Merriam-Webster dictionary I received in 1971.  I asked for it because when I'd watch Star Trek reruns, I didn't always know what they were talking about.  When I heard a new word, I wrote it down and wanted to look it up.

I still have that dictionary (and many more by now), and it's still my favorite.

What favorite book did you receive for Christmas?