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!

A Fifty Year Silence by Miranda Richmond Mouillot


I really enjoyed this book. It was in part a memoir and also in part a diary of the author’s historical journey to discover the details of her grandparent’s relationship during World War II. The author was never sure why; but her grandparents had not spoken to each other in 50 years. She decides to try to write their history and find out what happened by moving back to a small village in France where they once purchased a home and lived for a short time. However, in the process, the author discovers more about herself and finally allows herself to begin living in the present in order to love and be loved. The author weaves rich historical detail throughout the story, which makes for a beautifully written story. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of WWII fiction, historical fiction, memoirs, or family historical research.

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

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.

Foxcatcher – by Mark Schultz

Foxcatcher by Mark Schultz , according to the cover is “the true story of my brother’s murder, John du Pont’s madness, and the quest for Olympic gold.” I received an advanced reader’s edition of this book in exchange for a review. The book will be published on 11/18/14 by Dutton. Additionally, the movie will be released in November 2014, as well. Steve Carell stars in the movie as John du Pont and Channing Tatum as Mark Schultz. As always, I would recommend reading the book prior to seeing the film!

The story is interesting, and ultimately has a very sad ending, with the loss of Dave Schultz, multiple time Olympic and World champion wrestler. The author, Mark Schultz, gives great play by play detail into each and ever wrestling match he competed in during his own journey for Olympic gold and World championships. If a reader doesn’t really like sports, they may find the wrestling a bit too heavy on the description. However, I am not a sports lover and I felt the book was very well written. The relationship between Mark and his brother Dave is an example of the unbreakable bond of brotherhood. For fans of memoir, true crime, or even fiction, I would recommend this book.