One of the best things about the cooler months, in my opinion, is the opportunity to curl up by a fire. Watching television or movies by firelight isnít nearly as sentimental as reading a book while wrapped in a blanket in front of the fire. And not just any book will do. A fire book should be light enough to be fun to read while deep enough to make it interesting and meaningful. The thickness of the book doesnít matter, but you should be able to get into the story and stay there for a few hours to take full advantage of the firelight and ambiance. I recommend a few of my favorites for your fireside reading this fall and winter:
The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things
If the title alone doesnít sell you, this novel by Carolyn Mackler is a great teen read because it is so real. Virginia, the fifteen-year-old main character is a larger than average girl with larger than average problems. Her best friend just moved away, sheís larger than sheíd like to be and canít seem to live up to her familyís expectations. Her family is perfect, and if she wasnít part of the picture, the Shreeves family would be literally picture perfect Ė until things fall apart one day. Virginia learns a lot about staying true to herself and how itís the size of the soul and heart that matter most.
If You Come Softly
A short book, and therefore pretty easy read, If You Come Softly
by Jacqueline Woodson examines the underlying pressures and stigmas still very much associated with interracial couples. A white Jewish girl and a black boy meet at an elite private school. The two fall in love immediately and exist in a perfect state of love and happiness until the world gets in the way. This book is deceptive. It might be short, but it is full of huge issues and extremely deep subject matter. You can expect it to linger in your mind for days, if not months after you finish the story. It is a very powerful book that you have to experience and process.
First Part Last
Another powerful book, First Part Last
by Angela Johnson is the story of a teenage father. Told with the first part last, the book takes you on a journey through a teen pregnancy, the birth of his daughter and his efforts raising his daughter alone as a teenage father. An extremely powerful story, Iíll admit I was breathless at parts and cried more than a few tears. Donít let the strong language of the book put you off, it makes the story so much more real, and this is a very real story indeed.
If you havenít already read it, Speak
by Laurie Halse Anderson will overwhelm you with its story. A girl slowly falls mute during her freshman year of high school. Her parents rarely speak to her, instead leaving post-it notes on the door as they leave for work, and her entire school hates her for calling the cops on a summer party. Sheís alone and canít bring herself to speak, but only she knows the real reason why.