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I like Big Books and I Cannot Lie

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Imagine this: It's Christmas Eve. You've enjoyed an abundant dinner with your loved ones and exchanged gifts. You received that book you've been dying to read, the one all of your friends have been raving about. You spend the night cuddled up near the fire reading your new book, sipping mulled wine and devouring freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

This is actually an Icelandic tradition known as 
Jolabokaflod, which roughly translates to "Christmas book flood." It began during World War II, when giving books as gifts during the holidays became super popular because paper was one of the few supplies not strictly rationed. The tradition is still widely celebrated by Icelandic people today.

On a personal note, one of my resolutions this year was to dedicate more time to reading, and I'm proud to say it's one of the few I've ever achieved. I'm sharing my tips for how I found time to read throughout the year, plus a few of my favorite 2018 reads and anticipated reads for early 2019. 

From our Cariset family to yours, we wish you the happiest of holidays!


My Five-Star 2018 Books

Beartown by Fredrik Backman: I will treasure this story forever. Backman executes his portrayal of a small, hockey-obsessed, economically challenged town and its inhabitants perfectly. The characters leave you thinking about life, parenthood, loyalty, bravery, and so much more. I love the way the author effortlessly presents deep and complicated life concepts with easy and entertaining prose. Read it immediately if you haven't already -- I promise you won't regret it!
  • "We burn and bleed and cry, fully aware that the worst the sport can give us, in the very best scenario, is incomprehensibly meager and worthless: just a few isolated moments of transcendence. That's all. But what the hell else is life made of?"
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah: This story unfolds in the wilderness of Alaska, and Hannah (also the author of The Nightingale), sets the scene as a stunning and dangerous place. Similar to The Nightingale, the complexity of the characters easily draws you in, the prose is wonderful, and there's not a dull moment between themes of romance, forgiveness, dark places, broken dreams, and survival. 
  • "Mama had quit high school and 'lived on love.' That was how she always put it, the fairy tale. Now Leni was old enough to know that like all fairy tales, theirs was filled with thickets and dark places and broken dreams, and runaway girls."
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: A timely and unforgettable book inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. Sixteen-year-old Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her innocent and unarmed best friend at the hands of a police officer. As the rest of the story unfolds, Starr isn't perfect or fearless, but she's authentic and strong and an inspiration to anyone ready to change this messed up world.
  • “That's the problem. We let people say stuff, and they say it so much that it becomes okay to them and normal for us. What's the point of having a voice if you're gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn't be?” 
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens: A beautifully written coming-of-age tale and murder mystery that follows Kya, an independent young woman with an untraditional upbringing in a North Carolina marsh. Reese Witherspoon also raved about this book and recently announced she'll be producing the movie.
  • "She knew the years of isolation had altered her behavior until she was different from others, but it wasn’t her fault she’d been alone. Most of what she knew, she’d learned from the wild. Nature had nurtured, tutored, and protected her when no one else would. If consequences resulted from her behaving differently, then they too were functions of life’s fundamental core."

Next Up On My "To-Read" List

Tips for Reading More Frequently

  • Buy a Kindle: I invested in the Paperweight earlier this year and absolutely love it. It's so portable and easy to use that I can now read everywhere and anywhere, whether I'm commuting, waiting for an appointment, on a plane, or at the beach.  
  • Download the Goodreads app: This app is like Facebook for book lovers -- you can keep track of the books you've read/want to read, leave reviews, and track your friends' reading activities. 
  • Start a book club: All you need is a few bottles of wine, some cheese and crackers, and a small group of friends who also enjoy reading. Rotate hosting and selecting the book. My group spends 5-10% of the time discussing the book and the remaining time sharing laughs and gossip.
  • Make it a habit: I know life gets busy, but even on my craziest days I can usually find 10-15 minutes to read in bed before passing out -- it helps me wind down and relax. 

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