Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Christmas List

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Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday! Today, we're talking about the books I'm hoping to find under the tree on Christmas morning. Will Santa bring these books? Probably not, but I can dream, right? Here are 10 books I'm desperate to read right now.

🎄  Books On My Christmas List  🎁

The Valancourt Book Of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories by Tara Moore (Editor)

Classic Short Stories

During the Victorian era, it became traditional for publishers of newspapers and magazines to print ghost stories during the Christmas season for chilling winter reading by the fireside or candlelight. Now for the first time thirteen of these tales are collected here, including a wide range of stories from a diverse group of authors, some well-known, others anonymous or forgotten. Readers whose only previous experience with Victorian Christmas ghost stories has been Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol will be surprised and delighted at the astonishing variety of ghostly tales in this volume.

Why I want to read it: I love Christmas. I love ghost stories. I love the Victorian era. I'm pretty sure this book was made for me. I need it!

You by Caroline Kepnes

Adult Thriller

When a beautiful aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

Why I want to read it: Normally, thrillers aren't my thing, but I'm obsessed with the Netflix show. Joe is so disgustingly creepy that I can't look away. I want to know how the TV show compares to the novel.

The Death Of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

Adult Historical Horror

Practical, unassuming Jane Shoringfield has done the calculations, and decided that the most secure path forward is this: a husband, in a marriage of convenience, who will allow her to remain independent and occupied with meaningful work. Her first choice, the dashing but reclusive doctor Augustine Lawrence, agrees to her proposal with only one condition: that she must never visit Lindridge Hall, his crumbling family manor outside of town. Yet on their wedding night, an accident strands her at his door in a pitch-black rainstorm, and she finds him changed. Gone is the bold, courageous surgeon, and in his place is a terrified, paranoid man—one who cannot tell reality from nightmare, and fears Jane is an apparition, come to haunt him.

By morning, Augustine is himself again, but Jane knows something is deeply wrong at Lindridge Hall, and with the man she has so hastily bound her safety to.

Why I want to read it: It has vibes of Rebecca, Jane EyreBluebeard, and Doctor Jekyll And Mr. Hyde. That's a lot of vibes. It sounds like a compelling mystery with a lot of potential for action and terror.

Everyone Dies Famous In A Small Town by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

Young Adult Short Stories

In this book, the impact of wildfire, a wayward priest, or a mysterious disappearance ricochet across communities, threading through stories. Here, ordinary actions such as ice skating or going to church reveal hidden truths. One choice threatens a lifelong friendship. Siblings save each other. Rescue and second chances are possible, and so is revenge.

Why I want to read it: The author's other book, The Smell Of Other People's Houses, is one of my all-time-favorite historical fiction novels. It's vivid and well-researched with believable characters. I'm excited to see what Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock can do with short stories.

How To Stay Sane In An Age Of Division by Elif Shafak

Adult Self-Help Nonfiction

Ours is the age of contagious anxiety. We feel overwhelmed by the events around us, by injustice, by suffering, by an endless feeling of crisis. So, how can we nurture the parts of ourselves that hope, trust and believe in something better? And how can we stay sane in this age of division?

In this powerful, uplifting plea for conscious optimism, Booker Prize-nominated novelist and activist Elif Shafak draws on her own memories and delves into the power of stories to bring us together. In the process, she reveals how listening to each other can nurture democracy, empathy and our faith in a kinder and wiser future.

Why I want to read it: This sounds like a book that the whole world needs right now. I might need it even more than the average person. Just dealing with my family makes me feel like I'm going insane. I need all the help I can get.

The Five: The Untold Lives Of The Women Killed By Jack The Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold

Adult True Crime Nonfiction

Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers. What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888. The person responsible was never identified, but the character created by the press to fill that gap has become far more famous than any of these five women.

For more than a century, newspapers have been keen to tell us that ‘the Ripper’ preyed on prostitutes. Not only is this untrue, as historian Hallie Rubenhold has discovered, it has prevented the real stories of these fascinating women from being told.

Why I want to read it: This book has been everywhere in the past few years. Reviewers rave about it because it focuses on the victims of a famous crime instead of on the killer. It's a fresh take on true crime. The victims are treated like real people instead of like props in the killer's story. I'm interested to see what the hype is about.

English Monsters by James Scudamore

Adult Literary Fiction

When ten-year-old Max is sent to boarding school, his idyllic childhood comes to an abrupt end. Away from the magical freedom of his grandfather’s farm, a world of unfathomable rules and arbitrary punishment awaits. But so too does the companionship of a close-knit group of classmates.

Later, as Max and his friends face down adulthood, a dark secret from their schooldays is revealed, drawing them together in unforeseen ways. Who knew what, and when? And who is now willing to see justice done, regardless of the cost to themselves?

Why I want to read it: Has anyone actually read this book? I feel like it flew way under the radar. I want to read it because it reminds me of Donna Tartt's The Secret History. I love that novel and want more stories about pretentious boarding school students who do terrible things.

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

Young Adult Fantasy

Imagine an America very similar to our own. It's got homework, best friends, and pistachio ice cream.

There are some differences. This America has been shaped dramatically by the magic, monsters, knowledge, and legends of its peoples, those Indigenous and those not. Some of these forces are charmingly everyday, like the ability to make an orb of light appear or travel across the world through rings of fungi. But other forces are less charming and should never see the light of day.

Elatsoe lives in this slightly stranger America. She can raise the ghosts of dead animals, a skill passed down through generations of her Lipan Apache family. Her beloved cousin has just been murdered in a town that wants no prying eyes. But she is going to do more than pry. The picture-perfect facade of Willowbee masks gruesome secrets, and she will rely on her wits, skills, and friends to tear off the mask and protect her family.

Why I want to read it: Look at the cover! It's so pretty! I want to read more fantasy, but I'm ridiculously picky about the genre. I'm always on the lookout for "light" fantasy, not the medieval stuff with elves and 100-page battle scenes. Elatsoe sounds like my type of fantasy: Quirky and elf-free.

Burn by Patrick Ness

Young Adult Alternate History / Fantasy

Sarah Dewhurst and her father, outcasts in their little town of Frome, Washington, are forced to hire a dragon to work their farm, something only the poorest of the poor ever have to resort to.

The dragon, Kazimir, has more to him than meets the eye, though. Sarah can’t help but be curious about him, an animal who supposedly doesn’t have a soul, but who is seemingly intent on keeping her safe.

Because the dragon knows something she doesn’t. He has arrived at the farm with a prophecy on his mind. A prophecy that involves a deadly assassin, a cult of dragon worshippers, two FBI agents in hot pursuit—and somehow, Sarah Dewhurst herself.

Why I want to read it: Well, this just sounds bizarre, doesn't it? It's historical fiction, but with dragons. I'm interested to see how the author blends the real world with fantasy elements. Also, most of my bookish friends love this novel and keep recommending it to me. I should probably cave to peer pressure and read it.

The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Adult Historical Nonfiction

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her enslaved ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions.

Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave.

Now Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells; from Henrietta’s small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia—a land of wooden quarters for enslaved people, faith healings, and voodoo—to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells.

Why I want to read it: I can't pass up medical nonfiction! I read a lot of medical books, but I've somehow missed this classic. It first came out in 2009, and people are still talking about it. It does sound fascinating. Doctors and scientists get a lot of credit for medical discoveries, but what about the ordinary people who give the scientists data and body parts to work with?

Buy it on Amazon

Buy it on Book Depository

Which books are on your holiday wish list?

Are you giving any books as gifts this year?


  1. I haven't heard of any of those books, but I've read a Patrick Ness book. There is something really fun about Christmas ghost stories.

  2. I hope Santa treats you well this year!

  3. I love the idea of Victorian Christmas ghost stories. How fun! The only one I've read is A CHRISTMAS CAROL, but it's my favorite, so...

    Happy TTT!

  4. Thrillers are not my thing, but I'm also obsessed with the Netflix adaptation of You. I'm so curious how the books compare!

  5. I have read Elatsoe (pretty good), Burn (not my type of book), and Henrietta Lacks (excellent) so I hope you enjoy!

  6. What a great list. So many pretty covers. Victorian ghost stories sound amazing. Hope you receive some of these. Happy holidays!


  7. The Henrietta Lacks book sounds really interesting, as does The Five, I love books about women from history that don't get the attention they should. I really enjoyed the TV version of You, but I wasn't as keen on the book, I hope you enjoy it more.
    My TTT: https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2021/12/21/top-ten-tuesday-347-the-christmas-movie-book-tag/

  8. I hope to read YOU by CAROLINE KEPNES as well, next year.

    Happy Holidays!

  9. I loved the Hitchcock book. I hope you get it and love it too.

  10. I have The Five - it's one I really need to read in 2022.

    Lauren @ www.shootingstarsmag.net

  11. I hope all your Christmas wishes come true!

  12. I highly recommend the audiobook for You!

  13. The Five sounds good. I love just about anything to do with Jack the Ripper.

  14. You is fantastic - I especially loved the audiobook edition! :)

    Check out my TTT

  15. Nice list! I haven't watched You, but I read the book this month and it's my favourite book of the month so far. I hope you get the chance to read it soon!

  16. I hope Santa brings you lots of books this year!

  17. The Victorian ghost story sounds interesting and I've only read Dicken's Christmas ghost story. By the way, I highly recommend Les Standiford's book, "The Man Who Invented Christmas," which is about Dicken's "A Christmas Carol"

    Now I know why I generally prefer living in small towns :)

    I hope you had a Merry Christmas.

  18. Hope you got some of these! I loooved Burn, and Everyone Dies Famous was really good too! I am interested in Jane Lawrence too, and the Henrietta Lacks story is SO interesting (and sad, frankly), so I look forward to hearing your thoughts on that one if you do in fact get it!

  19. How'd you do? Did any of these come through for you?

    Happy holidays, AJ!