Books are easy to put on the wish list, easy to buy and usually welcome. There’s a bookworm or two among the CLEW contributors as well, and this is what they suggest Santa brings for Christmas.

Dan Franch recommends:

The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain. This was Twain’s last book, not completely finished when he died. It takes place in Middle Ages Austria and describes some kids who meet the Devil and learn a completely new way of thinking about life’s occurrences. Throughout the book Twain turns the idea of morality and tragedy on its head, giving the Devil the power that many people often give God. The results are seemingly horrendous, but not necessarily so…

Dan is a CLEW columnist, and he also writes about having the blues.

Heidi Nesttun-Sunde recommends:

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. Alaska, 1920: A brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart – he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm, she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone, but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.

Heidi gives us fantastic expat tales, from Alaska and other places. This book was chosen for the Sexy Shoes Book Club – not a bad idea either!

Lisa Fuchs recommends:

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. A story about the people on the island Guernsey after WWII. It is completely written as letters going back and forth between the main characters, and those letters tell the story of the book. Totally cute and funny and interesting. It’s a hot topic dealt with in a very nice way. Great gift for a woman of any age – teenager to grownup. (more recommendations after the illustration…)

Blink by Malcom Gladwell. A fascinating book about communication and what we know without knowing. I love his writing style – telling short stories as examples and then looking deeper into them to explain what really happened. This is a bit of a geek book (which is why I like it – I am actually quite a geek) and suits any geek over the age of 12. My son has read it too and was as fascinated as I was (but then he is a mega geek). It is not fiction – but it is still light reading in easy English.

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. A book about death but also very much about life. Amazing. I cried many tears reading it and have reread it several times because of the wisdom it shares. It’s a true story and it touches. A book for grownups or older teenagers. Again, my son read it but found it too heavy / depressing, so he stopped half way. He was just 12 at the time and that was maybe too young for this subject. Easy reading in sense of language though.

Lisa writes about gluten free food and takes photos (and now we also know she’s a bit of a geek!)

Miranda van den Heuvel recommends:

The signature of all things by Elizabeth Gilbert. After the successful story of her mess of a life (Eat, Pray, Love), Gilbert has returned to fiction and produced a bible of a book. I am usually not good with so many pages, but this one I did not want to end. It is the story of Alma, a smart girl who falls in love with mosses and the wrong men. The book is full of history, love, the unspoken, the difficult life as a woman in the 19th century, the evolution of species and how nature and things in it are really just like life: in constant change. It is the perfect read (or gift) for the holidays.

Miranda talks to creative people in Luxembourg in her column “Lëtz Create”.

Unni Holtedahl recommends:

The Fault in our Stars by John Green. About a sixteen year old girl and a seventeen year old boy who fall in love, and about the wisdom of youth. What makes their love story special, and what makes these two so wise, is that they are both terminally ill with cancer. Green deals with cancer in a direct and often funny way, which makes it all the more poignant, hitting you right where it should. Achingly beautiful. For young adults and all other adults.

Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder series by Jo Nesbø. Readers all over the world will know Jo Nesbø’s tough detective Harry Hole from books like The Snowman and most recently Police. But did you know that he has also written three hilariously funny book for children about Doctor Proctor, a crazy professor waiting for his big break, his next-door neighbour Lise and her peculiar little friend Bulle, and the  twins Truls and Trym Thrane who are usually up to no good. With these books, Nesbø has been compared to Roald Dahl, and in them he deals with the importance of being who you are.

Unni  is a bit here, there and everywhere on CLEW, writing and editing. 

Happy Christmas reading!