A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote

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I’m not one to re-read books. One of the reasons for this is that I always have so many books in my TBR pile, that I must keep moving forward. However, there is one particular book, which is more of a short story really, that I re-read every year around Christmas. What is even more special, perhaps, is that every year I have the pleasure of reading it aloud to my grandmother, Mary. Each year we enjoy it more so, even though we could recite many of the passages by heart. For over 15 years, we have been reading A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote. It is our own Christmas tradition, a Christmas memory I hope to pass down to my children and to their children as well someday.

When people think of Capote’s work, most likely they think of In Cold Blood, a famous story with a very graphic murder scene. However, A Christmas Memory, is a personal memoir based upon Truman Capote’s young life. A Christmas Memory is about as different as can be genre-wise from In Cold Blood. The story tells of a young boy named Buddy and the time he spent with a beloved, much older relative before he was sent away to boy’s school as a teenager. (The far left book cover photo above shows a young Truman Capote and his older relative and friend.)

The story is set in Alabama during the Great Depression. Buddy, age 7, and the older Miss Sook, who was in her 60’s but had a child-like mind, lived in a house with other distant relatives who didn’t approve of them or pay much attention to them. Though they had the essentials (food, water, shelter, and clothing), Buddy and Miss Sook lived a no-frills, but enjoyable lifestyle, delighting in simple pleasures such as collecting ingredients and then making fruitcakes in the winter, playing with their old dog, Queenie, and even killing flies in return for pennies from the other relatives in the house. Perhaps their favorite time of the year and fondest memories are during “fruitcake weather” when they focus all their time, energy, and scant funds to making fruitcakes to send to friends, acquaintances, and even some people they have never met. My personal favorite is Mr. Ha-Ha Jones, who donates some liquor in exchange for “one of them fruitcakes.” Another poignant memory is making gifts for one another every Christmas, where they always realize that their friendship with one another is better than any gift money could buy. The story is pretty short, but it is filled with descriptive details which allow readers to close their eyes and easily imagine the scenes throughout. This is one of the reasons it is such a great read-aloud book. The writing is beautiful, raw, and it flows seamlessly from one scene to the next. If you haven’t ever read this story, I would highly recommend it. There is actually a movie out now, but the book is so much better! Read it before you watch the film.

The first time I had ever heard of A Christmas Memory was back in high school. Our English teacher read it aloud to our class, and I am so thankful that she did. Something about the story really resonated with me. I was at a used bookstore a few months later and happened to find a copy of it. My grandma and I have always talked about books and both love literature, so I shared it with her one year and we have read it every Christmas season since then! Reading this with my grandma every year is something we look forward to and enjoy so, so much. In recent years, other family members have listened in a few times, including my oldest son who is now 7 years old, Buddy’s age during the time of the story.

My grandma has always encouraged me to write, even from when I was little writing her poems and notes (which she has no doubt kept safely preserved in a box all these years). I’ve always had a special, close friendship with my grandma and she is so dear to me. And literature and the written word have always been a big part of our bond. For both of these, I am truly thankful. Below is a picture of my grandma with each of my sons when they were very young.

Is there a book or story that holds a special place in your heart? One that you have read multiple times? Please let me know in the comments!

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Winter Storms by Elin Hilderbrand

9780316396769_c4658Winter Storms, which will release on October 4, 2016, is the third and final installment in the Winter Street trilogy, which is Elin Hilderbrand’s annual Holiday Nantucket story of the Quinn family. I look forward to more time with the Quinn family every season, but just like Christmas festivities each year, the story always ends far too soon.

The Quinn family is never short on drama, especially near the Holidays. This season, however, it’s the Quinn women who are keeping us on our toes. The youngest Quinn sibling, Bart, is still missing, captured as a prisoner of war in Afghanistan. Bart’s family has not lost hope that he is alive and will be home someday, but their busy lives on Nantucket continue. Margaret is planning a Christmas wedding to her long time beau, Drake. Meanwhile, her daughter Ava’s love life is a bit crazy. Ava is dating two men, Nathaniel and Scott, but is unable to decide which one she should settle down with permanently. She’ll take a trip with Margaret, where she’ll meet another potential suitor, and as they say, three’s a crowd. Who will win Ava’s heart, or will it be too late? Will she swear off men for good and decide to only worry about her own happiness? Or can she have both love and happiness in the future?

As Patrick is  to be released from prison, Jennifer is in over her head with a major pain pill addiction. Everyone was amazed at how Jennifer kept herself and her family together while Patrick was incarcerated, but what they didn’t know is that Jennifer was barely functioning without the help of an old acquaintance-turned-dealer supplying her pills. Will Jennifer ever be able to redeem herself once the Quinns find out that she really isn’t perfect? How can she face her mother-in-law, Margaret, to whom she admires so greatly?

With weddings and celebration on everyone’s mind, Kevin decides to take the plunge and marry Isabelle on Christmas eve at the Inn. They pray that by some miracle, Bart will be home to join in the festivities. But as they receive a bit of good news, a whopper of a winter storm strikes, threatening to keep the Quinns from reuniting at the Inn for the wedding and Christmas. You’ll have to read to find out who will make it to the wedding, as well as who Ava will choose or not choose to be her leading man. I can honestly say that this has been one of my all-time favorite series. The Quinns are a rather likable bunch, even with their flaws, and I admire the way they treat each other with respect and love throughout the trials they face. It’s also really cool how they embrace those that aren’t actually family, but feel like family – such as George, the Santa Claus. There is truly never a dull moment in the Winter Street Inn!

Thank you to Little, Brown, and Company for an advanced copy of this book.

The Mistletoe Promise – by Richard Paul Evans

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Wow! This is a powerful little book by one of the greats, Richard Paul Evans. I read the book in one evening, because I couldn’t put it down. At times, I laughed out loud at the arrangement (the Christmas season promise) that was set up by two lonely individuals, Elise and Nicholas. And, of course, I cried during much of it. Richard Paul Evans has a knack for writing stories that you could imagine happening in any family, especially in this story as both Elise and Nick’s tragedies could easily be found on the evening news. The beauty of this book is that no matter how terrible the tragedy, an individual can overcome grief with love and companionship of another with a similar set of circumstances. This book doesn’t include any negative language or steamy scenes. The romance is hinted at, but not explicit. Make sure you are prepared for crying, because I can almost guarantee you it will happen. However, I didn’t say the crying was because of bad things. Much of the book is very touching and heartwarming. Your favorite librarian says: Read It!!

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you enjoy reading these fabulous book as much as I do.

Merry Christmas to you and your families.

The 13th Gift – by Joanne Huist Smith


The 13th Gift is a true story of one family’s difficult Holiday season after the untimely and sudden death of their husband/father. The story is interesting, as it includes a bit of mystery which builds as Christmas day approaches. The book had me laughing out loud as well as crying at times. This is a wonderful story for those who love Holiday novels, but also for anyone who has lost a loved one and had a hard time going through the Holiday season without their loved one present. The author writes exactly how she and her children are feeling in the wake of the loss of their husband/father. The Christmas “miracle” the family experiences is really quite moving and humbling. The greatest message is that anyone can be giving and any day can be like Christmas. What a great book!

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Winter Street – by Elin Hilderbrand

Winter Street was wonderful. I picked it up and read it cover to cover in one marathon reading session because it was so good. Elin Hilderbrand has a knack for hooking the reader with real family drama that the reader must keep reading to find out the outcomes. In years past, Starbucks lattes have been known to throw me into the Holiday spirit. However, this year, I can say for certain that it was Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand. After finishing the book, I just want to make a Christmas dinner and decorate cookies with my mother. The book had many humorous moments that left me laughing out loud. Also included was some romance, but not over the top romance. I love the way Elin weaves in a little romance without being too “Fifty Shades”-ish. Even though the plot weaves back and forth between family members, the story is seamless and intriguing the whole way through. The ending leaves us hanging quite a bit, but that simply means there is hope for a forthcoming series. That makes me happy and excited. Thank you, Elin, for writing such wonderful stories.