A bookworm’s favourite Christmas Snacks

Day 19 in our ChristmasCalendar2019!
Food: Food for Soul

Christmas. A time to stuff your face with everything good around the kitchen every 20 minutes and maybe cosy up by the fireplace with a good book during the breaks in-between. But what to read?? I am sharing my own personal list of books together with a brief description that hopefully does not contain too many spoilers. My picks are a bit skewed towards my fantasy-favourites – for some reason Christmas is always a “fantasy book” time for me! Still, you will find a bit of almost everything: the timeless classics I have read 10 times already and will definitely read 50 times more; some period novels (who doesn’t love a good Pride and Prejudice-like piece); some sci-fi (isn’t it fun dissecting all the things they got right or wrong) and plain old fiction (Harry Potter fans let me hear you!). I hope there is something for everyone in this list. Leave a comment with your book suggestion too!

The Neverending Story

This definitely falls under the category of “I can recite almost the entire book by heart”. This is one of my childhood favourites, teenage favourites, adulthood favourites. Maybe because it was the first “real book” I read, it also carries a sense of nostalgia. It has the perfect length to feel like a book but you will still be able to finish during Christmas break. It is endearing, cute, engaging (maybe more for under 12 but what the heck). In this book we follow the story of Bastian as he reads a book called “The Neverending Story” (Inception before it was cool!) about the Childlike Empress, her land called Fantastica and how Bastian’s story in the “real world” and the story in Fantastica intertwine. Maybe even something to read together with the kids in the family!

Classification: fantasy

A filha do capitao

This Portuguese novel by José Rodrigues dos Santos has no English translation that I could find. You will find in in Portuguese, Portuguese from Brazil, Italian (La fliglia del Capitano), Spanish (la amante francesa) and German (Die französische Geliebte).

In this novel we learn about the life of the Portuguese foot soldiers in the trenches during World War I, together of course with an impossible and dangerous romance.

Classification: time period novel, historic

The Pigeon Tunnel

I got to know John le Carre with this book. If you don’t know him, this is a perfect place to start. He worked for the Secret Intelligence Agency during the Cold War (a fancy way of saying he was a spy) and this book recollects many of his little stories from his active work years.

Classification: historic

The name of the wind 

by Patrick Rothfuss. 

If you are like me and are only happy with a thousand-page book that makes your arms ache and keeps you in suspense from beginning to end, this is the book for you! I remember having my eyes burning with tiredness, and actively having to keep them open because I just had to know what happened next! This book has ancient magic, treason, suspense, revenge. All in one.

BONUS: There is already a sequel out, “The wise man’s fear” divided in two big, fat, impossible-to-put-down volumes. 

Extra bonus: one of the characters of the books has a small spin-off story book called “The slow regard of silent things”. It is a brief explanation of who she is and how she became the character in the main story. A shorter tale in case you can’t really fit the time for a long read. Also a great read by itself, and another perfect book to read with the older kids in the family.

Classification: novel, fantasy

The elephant’s journey 

Almost all books from Jose Saramago would be a great suggestion (there are a few that are very peculiar so if you are unfortunate to have read one of those and don’t like him, I ask you to give it a chance with this one!). In this book we follow the journey of the elephant Solomon on his journey from Lisbon to Vienna, where he is to be presented as a wedding gift from king Joao III of Portugal to the archduke Maximillian. A mix of history and fiction, it is sad and endearing and an absolutely fantastic read.

Classification: time period, fantasy

The Golden Compass (also known as Northern Lights)

This one is also part of a magical, parallel world. Maybe the name sounds familiar to you because it has recently been adapted to a Netflix series, or because there was a movie of it that didn’t really take off a few years back. But the books, I promise, will deliver. In a world where a person’s soul lives outside their body in the form of daemons, we follow the journey of Lyra in search of her uncle, Lord Asriel, who has been experimenting with the “Dust” – that will turn out to be more of an adventure than she had planned for.

Classification: novel, fantasy

Mortal Engines

By Philip Reeve.

Yet another fantasy book about yet another parallel world 🙂 This one is also a great read for teenagers, and a great way to inspire the love for reading in them. It is exciting but relatively short, so will not intimidate them as a one-and-a-half-kilo book would.

This book takes place in a post-apocalyptic steampunk world, where cities had to become mobile and “eat” other cities in order to survive. The eaten cities provide materials and slave labour to the big cities (Municipal Darwinism), in a stratified society where the Engineer’s Guild has a lot of power. Knowledge from the pre-war time is scarce so old technology is highly valued. My favourite part is when they refer to Mickey and Pluto as the “Gods of the pre-war era”. Of course we follow the story of a hero (or two) as they venture throughout this odd world trying to survive.

Classification: fantasy

Millenium trilogy

This is a dark dark dark series. Very un-Christmasy, but yet such an absorbent read. We follow the life of Lisbeth, a gifted and brilliant girl but with some social skills problems. She gets involved with Mikael Blomkvist (an investigative journalist) and his latest case. It is definitely not a happy read, and definitely not for children. 

Classification: thriller

The circadian code

This book is more than an excellent introduction of the circadian concept to your non-scientist friends and family. Not only does it explain the basic circadian oscillation patterns, but it also offers great advice (some more practical than others 😉) on how to be more circadian-friendly in your daily life, with interesting case studies and examples. It debunks some long implemented myths with easy-to-follow science, as well as presenting new evidence that challenges old beliefs. It does so with respect for the science of the past, and a good example how science paradigms can change based on new evidence. With more and more research showing that a strong circadian cycle helps to combat and prevent so many diseases, it is definitely of interest to everyone, scientist and non-scientist alike!

Classification: science, science communication

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