Brr! December 21st has arrived and you know what that means: it’s the first official day of winter. Ah yes, the season of staying home entirely guilt-free to sit on the couch and eat cookies for three months straight. Winter is also the ideal time to snatch up a new book list and have yet another excuse to never leave home! So grab a blanket and cozy up with these four new recommendations from our friends at the Brooklyn Public Library (and make this homemade hot chocolate recipe while you’re at it!).

Want more book recommendations?

Try your hand at The Brooklyn Public Library’s Book Match service.
They’ll team you up with your own personal librarian and a custom list of books to match your tastes!

west elm x BPL — December Reading List
Book Recommendations by Abby Garnett.

This list reflects my anything-goes reading habits over the past few years. I’ve always been a fairly adventurous reader, but as an adult I truly treasure recommendations from friends for pushing me out of my comfort zone. I credit my book club—hey, book club!—in which we rotate selections each month, for expanding my worldview and getting me to read a wider variety of genres. I tried to include a variety of writing styles here, but these are all titles that I found exceptionally engrossing, and that transported me to a specific time and place. As the weather gets colder and the days darker, these are books in which you can immerse yourself.

Undermajordomo Minor
by Patrick deWitt
A fanciful, hilarious, romantic, and uncanny bildungsroman following a young man, Lucy Minor, a lovable bumpkin—and compulsive liar—who seeks his fortune through employ at a distant castle. Reporting to the majordomo, Lucy soon finds that the Baron of the castle is mad, the country plagued by interminable skirmishes, the castle full of frightening unknowns, and the neighboring town populated by thieves, along with a fair maid who may be Lucy’s true love. As he did with his darkly comic Western The Sisters Brothers, deWitt has lots of fun with genre here and employs a sometimes macabre sense of humor. Wholly original, this will scratch an itch both for well-trodden tropes and mind-expanding surrealism.

Kristin Lavransdatter
by Sigrid Undset
This set of three novels set in medieval Norway follows Kristin from a small child to a wife, mother, and manager of her husband’s estate. Written by the Norwegian Nobel laureate Sigrid Undset, Kristin’s story provides an amazingly detailed account of life in 14th century Norway, from the quotidian (how people dressed, how they celebrated, the complex dynamics between men and women) to the larger political tensions that plagued the nation. Its intimate view of Kristin’s journey to womanhood and conflicted Catholic faith makes this a definitive piece of historical fiction and a beautiful, compelling character study.

Social Creature
by Tara Isabella Burton
Gossip Girl meets The Talented Mr. Ripley in this thriller, which takes aim at wealthy young New Yorkers and their Instagram-ready lives. There’s almost too much to relate to in Louise, a downtrodden late-twenties transplant who is barely scraping together rent for her apartment in Sunset Park, and more than enough entertainment to be had in Lavinia, the gorgeous, performatively free-spirited socialite who takes Louise under her wing. The story starts out light and voyeuristic as the duo flit from party to party, and ends up dark and voyeuristic as Louise makes decisions she can’t take back. Once I picked this one up, I was along for the ride.

The Blinds
by Adam Sternbergh
I read this highly enjoyable noir/western/sci-fi hybrid when a friend chose it for a book club, and it turned out to be a real crowd-pleaser. It’s about The Blinds, a dusty closed community in the least populous part of the Texas desert where all the inhabitants have agreed to have their memories erased. Are they criminals? Witnesses to crimes? As Sheriff Calvin Cooper begins investigating a suicide and a murder, each resident is forced to question their own past, and the real nature of the place they’re stuck in. A fun and fast-paced read, full of twists and turns and startling revelations, and easy to envision as a TV show (it was optioned for a TV series in 2017, so here’s hoping we’ll see it soon!)

west elm x BPL — December Reading List

west elm x BPL — December Reading List

Abby Garnett is a children’s librarian and Assistant Branch Manager at the Cypress Hills Library, where she enjoys singing and sharing her love of children’s literature during her weekly storytimes. When she’s not at work, she loves reading (of course), playing music, going to the movies with her husband, and hanging out with her cat named Panda.

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