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Books/My Culture

The 10 Books You Should Read this Christmas Break

On my days off, you can usually find me at Barnes and Noble, coffee in hand, ready to get lost in an unknown world. There is something so dreamy about exploring a land unlike our own and getting lost within that fantasy. There is something so transformative about learning life lessons through the eyes of someone I’ve just met. I read not just to be entertained, but to grow – to learn from the admirable characteristics of heroines, to avoid the mistakes of villains. To be transported to a place I will never go back to but will soon not forget.

“We read to know that we are not alone” (C.S. Lewis).

This winter, while you cozy up to your fireplace with that large cup of hot cocoa and rest from the busy school year, take a little journey through a new world. Challenge yourself to learn from someone (perhaps a little weird, wild, or quirky) that you’ve never met before, and enjoy a perspective you would’ve never dreamed up on your own.

Below, you will find 10 of my favorite books this year. Pick up one, two, or all, but whatever you do this Christmas Break, take that noggin of yours on a delightful ride!

1. If you’re in the mood for a Dystopian Fantasy, read The 5th Wave.

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From the first sentence on, this book had me hooked. Rick Yancey does a brilliant job of transporting the reader to a world in which humanity must fight to hold onto its home and friends must fight to hold onto one another. Enjoy exciting action scenes and excellent character development.

2. If you’re in the mood for Historical Fiction (and enjoy the WWII time period), read The Book Thief.

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Uniquely authored by the “character” of death, Markus Zusak creatively portrays what it was like for a young child to grow up in warring World War II Germany. Utilizing the power of imagination and curiosity, the reader takes a profound journey (often emotional at times) with Liesel, the book’s protagonist.

3. If you’re in the mood for a classic, rich with lessons about life and family, read To Kill a Mockingbird.

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I admit, this is a selfish add. To Kill a Mockingbird is hands-down one of my favorite modern-American novels. Harper Lee captures the Finch family in such a captivating way. From issues of race and law, to simply what it means to grow up to be a good person, this story is a classic for obvious reasons: The story remains timeless.

4. If you’re in the mood for Science Fiction (particularly space travel) or just love Science in general, read The Martian.

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Hands-down, one of my favorite books I read this year. Raw with humor, Andy Weir brilliantly portrays what it may be like for a scientist to get stuck on Mars alone, and the creative ways he must utilize his knowledge of math and science (specifically botany – random I know!) to get home. Special bonus: The Martian is now a movie! Starring the ever-talented Matt Damon.

5. If you’re in the mood for good Fiction with tons of Christian symbolism, read Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

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Get ready to become enchanted by the world beyond the wardrobe. The Chronicles of Narnia is truly an inspired story of the joy of childhood, the power of faith, and the love and protection of God. Double special bonus: This is just one book in a series AND these books have been made into movies! #win

6. If you’re in the mood for an inspiring Spiritual Memoir, read My Sisters the Saints.

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Okay, this one is probably a little more geared to the female reading audience (sorry, guys). My Sisters the Saints is a walk through life with the author, Colleen Carroll, as she recounts pivotal moments in her life and how the stories of specific saints really encouraged her to grow. Written in a relevant way, this book will leave you recounting those same memories in your own life and perhaps saying a prayer or two for the intercession of these incredible female saints.

7. If you’re in the mood for a comedic and honest Religious Autobiography, read Something Other than God.

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This book is a real delightful treat. Jennifer Fulwiler’s honesty and humor drive this entire autobiography. Throughout the entire book, I found myself buckled up right next to her, attentively listening to her eventful journey from Atheism to Catholicism. Raw and light-hearted she really gets to the heart of what it means to search for truth – sometimes hard and awkward, but incredibly rewarding.

8. If you’re in the mood for a Daily Devotional, read 33 Days to Morning Glory or 33 Days to Merciful Love.

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I’m a huge fan of both of these devotionals – one guiding you through a consecration to Mary, the other to Divine Mercy. Fr. Michael Gaitley writes with such beautifully profound insight and love for both of these devotions and does such a brilliant job of not only offering you the prayers but also the history.

9. If you’re in the mood to be empowered by the challenge of saying “yes”, read Year of Yes.

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You may know Shonda Rimes as the producer of some pretty scandalous shows (no pun intended), but what isn’t scandalous is her hilarious re-telling of the year she decided to say “yes” to everything. Although not entirely practical to apply to one’s own life, I found this mentality to be a great reminder that there is a real reward and freedom in taking a chance on the doors that open in our lives. Also, I found this book to be easily devourable.

10. If you’re in the mood for a good laugh and a quick read, pick up Tweet Inspiration.
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This gem of a little book is quick-witted and fun. Just look up @LT_TheBiblegeek on Twitter and you’ll know this little book has real potential to uplift you any time you need it. It’s filled with some of Mark Hart’s best sequences of 140 characters, but doesn’t lack the depth to inspire and draw you more deeply into your faith.

For more suggestions or ideas on what to read this winter break, don’t hesitate to take a look at our bookstore!

About the Author

Rachel Penate

I am a Wisconsin girl at heart who has a slight obsession with the band Switchfoot. When I was little I dreamed of becoming a professional figure skater, but instead found myself studying Education. Currently I reside in the great, yet terribly hot state of Arizona, and serve as Assistant to the Executive Vice President of Life Teen. I love most: my job, the ocean, running half-marathons, my sweet daughter Cecilia, husband Robbie, and above all — my Lord. Follow me on Instagram @r_penate and Twitter @LT_rachelp.