Mrs' Top 5 Books of All Time!

When I’m deciding how many stars a book I’ve read deserves, I use the five books listed below as my base. These are the five books that have impacted me the most in my 25 years of reading and the stories I consider to be five out five stars.

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White -- A true children’s classic, I’ve read this book more than 50 times. I even had a small rubber piglet named Wilbur that I carried around in my pocket for longer than I care to admit. It is the first book I remember picturing vividly in my head as I read. I would daydream about living on a farm and imagined that all the animals I encountered could talk to each other. That spark it ignited in my imagination is still present and I am constantly comparing the feeling I get from books I read now to the feeling that Charlotte’s Web gave me.

Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger -- I’ll be honest. This is literally the only book I read in it’s entirety in high school. The story of a young boy and a famous baseball player is told wholly with news clippings, telegrams, letters, and even ticket stubs. I was intrigued by the fact that the author wasn’t simply telling me what a character’s thought process was, what they looked like or how they acted. It felt as tho the characters themselves were telling me who they were through their letters, and events they went to and participated in. I was instantly drawn to the unique writing style that felt more personal than even some biographies that I’ve read. I haven’t found many stories told in this way since, but I am always looking.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen -- I can’t quite remember the specifics of why this book left such an impression on me. It ticked off a lot of things that I like in a story. I am a sucker for stories told from the point of view of a character who is getting older and reflecting on all his or her adventures in life. I love love stories between not only two people, but between people and their animals too.  What I do remember is that for months after reading this book, I longed to be reading it again. Every book I picked up following this book didn’t get finished for a long time because it didn’t move me the way Water for Elephants did.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern -- This book had my imagination on fire in a similar way to how it was when I first read Charlotte’s Web, but also in a completely deeper and more striking way. The world in The Night Circus was magical in a way that felt real. It was dark, edgy, sensual and provocative. There were worlds within worlds that made me thoroughly believe that the world I am in, is not the only world there is. It had me looking at the most ordinary objects with a curiosity that I had not known since I’d read The Littles or Charlotte’s Web. It had me believing in magic so strongly that I am still convinced it exists.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr -- This was the book that made me realize how much I enjoy historical fiction. I love learning about a time in our history through the lens of a fictional story and I especially loved learning more about WWII. But what really hooked me was how Doerr described scenery, smells, sounds, and emotions in such a beautiful and innocent way even while the sad and devastating war plot was always lurking in the background. I forced myself multiple times to put it down and read it slower because I knew it would be one of those books that I would crave reading, long after I had finished.

Nomadic Christmas Traditions

After 29 years of deliberation, I have finally made my decision: Christmas is my favorite holiday. The lights, food, songs, and general jolliness bring out the happiest me. I feel like I am walking on clouds for weeks. This Christmas was especially magical for me and Rob- being in a city where our dream of a white Christmas could come true. Never mind the fact that on Christmas Day the temperature here was the same as in San Francisco, the point is that it could have been a white Christmas. Singing "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas" a long with Frank on Christmas Eve took on a whole new significance. Festive Empire State Building

This year was also the first year that Rob and I would be apart from our families for the holidays. We started a tradition last year of waking up in our own bed on Christmas morning so Christmas day wasn't going to be the problem. The days surrounding Christmas were going to be tough. I imagined fake smiles and stifled crying from both of us as we tried to convince the other that we had made the right decision by staying in NY for the holidays. Luckily I was wrong. We handled it like champs (with only some slight pangs of regret when we video chatted with our families on Christmas) because we have a solid list of traditions and we adhered to all of them, plus a few more this year. This ensured that our homesickness didn't overwhelm us and turn this into our first and last nomadic Christmas.

Mr. & Mrs.' Old Traditions

We bought a tree on the sidewalk of 8th Ave and decorated it with lights and our favorite ornaments we had brought from CA. We hung up our 'Rob' and 'Sonja' stockings and mistletoe from Trader Joes.

Tiny tree for a tiny apartment

We watched all of our favorite holiday movies- Serendipity, Love Actually, Elf. We listened to our favorite Christmas albums- The Kingston Trio, The Roches, She & Him, Christina Perri and Frank Sinatra. Rob dubbed Christina Perri's version of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas as the Christmas song of 2014. We slept in on Christmas day, made bananas and strawberries look like a candy cane for breakfast, and ordered Chinese food for dinner.

Christmas Day Brunch

Mr. & Mrs.' New Traditions

5th Ave Snow Flake

We started some new traditions this year to add to our list. I baked up a lot of delicious cookies and candy to give to our new NYC friends. We strolled down 5th Ave and took in the beautiful window displays.

We added Die Hard, Family ManThe Holiday, Christmas Vacation and Christmas in Connecticut to our holiday movie list. We sang Christmas carols at the church next door to our tiny apartment on Christmas Eve, and went ice skating in Central Park on Christmas Day.

Central Park Ice Skating

We definitely missed our families and all the traditions that come with being with them over the holidays, but we thoroughly enjoyed our first nomadic Christmas.

What traditions do you and your loved ones take part in every year to make the holidays even more special?